Faith and Politics
This class is called “Faith and Politics” which usually means there is a question about whether or not faith should influence politics and if so, how.
While I agree with the “How?” question, the “Should” question is a mute point.
No one can accurately say they don't have a faith perspective. Everyone believes in something and that “something” colors their worldview on everything, including politics.
• Why do we care about a leader’s history, training, experience, what they read, say or do? Because those things tell us about the “inputs” that we know will influence their “outputs” as our leader.
• It gives us an idea of what they put their faith in, because regardless of whether they are deistic, agnostic or atheistic, they/we all have faith in something. If not a “higher power, then it’s something in the world around us or ourselves
• AND what we really believe is shown in our actions.
So what do my actions say about what I believe and how did what I believe influence me in politics? I’ll tell you my story and you are free to interpret it through your own!
Personal story of politics.
• No interest but others pushed and prepped.
• Finally relented and prepared with study, prayer and memorizing scripture.• Answered “call” when husband, elders, and party all asked.
• WHY? Acts 26:17-18 “Sending you to them to open their eyes”
I realized then that this wasn’t going to be primarily about how I voted but how I acted. Did I love my neighbor as much as I loved myself?
I’ll start with how my faith guided how I treated others.
• There are lots of stories of both success and failure.
• Since we all see lots of examples of Christians failing to “love our neighbors as ourselves”,(as have I!) I’ll share a couple of successes.
(Pricey story). “Janet” is a very liberal democrat.
• Became friends and spent time together, even when awkward, especially as we both moved from minority to majority.
• First to call when her sister became ill.
• Protected her trust as she cared for her sister when we had a veto opportunity.
• One of few at funeral and got her estranged relative to attend as well.
The story of “Janet” fits well with Matt 22:18-19 “Love the Lord your God………And love your neighbor as yourself.”
But……..Scripture also commands us to love our enemies.
Matt 5:43-45 “You have heard that is said, love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your father in heaven. He causes the sun to shine and the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
(Hager story). “Sam” is a very conservative Republican.
• As soon as elected he decided I was his obstacle to success.
• Even his assistant told me I had a very large target on my back and others could see that he had it out for me.
• I won’t tell you all the ways he made my life miserable, as it is still a sensitive spot for me.
• Yet, God enabled me to not speak ill of him and to treat him with the same respect I gave to others.
• People didn’t understand it, and sometimes I resented that I couldn’t exact vengeance.
• Still, I prayed for him regularly and God occasionally prompts me to pray for him now that I am gone.
These stories show how my faith impacted the way I treated others. But it doesn’t stop there.
How I voted also mattered. You can probably see now that following Christ made me confusing and to many. This was true not only because of how I treated friends and enemies, but also because, how I voted didn’t always line up with everyone’s expectations!
Dominion and care for environment-
• Dominion mandate as understood by Adam/Eve.
• Mosaic law highlighting balance between use and abuse
• Jesus and Revelations demonstrating care and respect for creation as a gift of God to be fulfilled in the new heavens and new earth.
• R’s didn’t understand how I could place environmental concerns at the same level as traditional Republican issues. A number of them were interested in safeguarding the environment, they just didn’t rank it as highly as tax reform
Role of government and role of church in caring for others.
• OT and NT demonstrate the role of the church in caring for the poor, widowed, fatherless, homeless and oppressed. Is 58: 6-11 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen…” James 1:27 “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this….”
• One reason He gave the caring function to the church and not government was so that she could reflect the love of the shepherd for his flock. A love that guides, provides and protects them individually as part of his flock.
• Government is the “king” and is charged with ensuring justice, freedom from oppression and protection from enemies.
• By placing primary provision for the poor under the government, especially with tight restrictions on intermingling faith, we run the risk of creating the false idea that government is our shepherd instead of God.
• We also allow the church to get lazy, neglect her calling and become selfishly weak.
• D’s who knew I had been foster parents and was very charitable, misjudged my desire to empower the private sector as caving to Republican desire to “cut the size of government” or to force an end to “entitlements”.
So my faith directly impacted how I did my job as a legislator.
Let’s imagine what it would have looked like if I had tried to separate the two and leave Christian faith at home….
• What would I have used to help me determine how to treat others? The examples I saw around me every day???
• And how would I have decided my stance on various issues? Vote with the majority? Follow the polls???
As I said at the beginning, we all have faith in something and whatever that is directly impacts how we treat others and the issues we care about. You cannot separate faith from politics.
In fact, God cares so much about faith and politics that he commands us to pray for our governmental leaders!
Why pray for our leaders?
II Chronicles 7:14 “If my people….”
I Tim 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
Romans 13:1 “Everyone must submit himself....
What should we pray for our leaders?
Mutual care and cooperation- Matthew 22:18-20 “Love the Lord your God with……..
Criminal Justice- I Peter 2:13 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men; whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
Freedom from oppression- Is. 58: 6-11 “Is not this the kind of fasting...
Wisdom- James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
What happens if I don’t cover my leaders with prayer? (A final word from history.)
Exek 22:30 “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.”
I would like to close with two quotes.
The first sums up my view of the relationship between faith and politics and the second was a great personal guide for me as I followed my calling as a politician.
Christians should never expect to further the cause of Christ through the political process. We do not have a divine mandate to use politics in the work of God… I believe that today's Christian depends too much on our governmental leaders to uphold our Christian heritage. The Christian heritage we reverence is not a product of our government. It rests in God's people and our individual testimonies. God is our refuge and our help, not a flawed government with flawed leaders."
by Robert L. Cobb
-Administrator, News For Christians Dot Com
The greatness of Christian exiles is not success but service. Whether we win or lose, we witness to the way of truth, beauty, and joy. We don’t own culture, and we don’t rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy, for the good of man and the glory of Jesus Christ.
-Pastor John Piper
Acts 26:17-18 I am sending you to them to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light in from the power of Satan to God. So that they may receive forgiveness of sand the place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
Matt 22:38-40 Jesus replied love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.
Is 58:6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”
II Chron 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Romans 13:1 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”