According to former US Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O’Neill, who is often associated with this phrase, politicians are wise to remember that no matter how compelling national policy might seem, voters are most compelled by those local issues that affect them most directly. For this article, I’d like to re-appropriate that adage for our faith and life together as the baptized in the church which is called to be involved in politics of every local time and place on behalf of God’s kingdom, which Jesus brings near and vindicates by his resurrection from the dead. For indeed, there are compelling political matters local to every time and place, and God has a perspective and interest in all of them.
Within that context, we the baptized in recent months have been involved with the politics of health care and immigration and jobs and gun culture and race relations, to name a few. And while the community of the baptized may hold a variety of political opinions on any particular issue, we form those opinions from the same foundation of God’s mercy and grace that seeks abundant life for all:
- God, in whose image, all people are created.
- God, whose way of life is illumined by the Ten Commandments that extol the love of God and neighbor as oneself.
- God, who enfleshes that life in the person of Jesus who came to serve rather than be served, giving his life to reveal eternal life for all the world.
- God, who establishes government for the sake of pursuing this way of life in a broken world, especially on behalf of the weakest among us.
- God, who encourages cooperation and participation from the citizenry within governments pursuing that goal.
Indeed we pray as much, at least every week and more, in the second and third petitions of the Lord’s Prayer: Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as in heaven.
And as Martin Luther teaches in the Small Catechism: In fact, God’s kingdom and will comes on its own without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come to us … whenever God breaks and hinders every evil scheme and will—as are present in the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh that would not allow us to hallow God’s name and would prevent the coming of his kingdom, and instead whenever God strengthens us and keeps us steadfast in his word and in faith until the end of our lives. This is God’s gracious and good will.
As such, we the baptized do not advocate any particular policy or candidate as the godly policy or candidate. Instead God’s way of life informs the policies and candidates we advocate, confident that no matter the chaos we encounter within the cosmos God has ordered, Christ Jesus and his resurrection give us hope through the cross of salvation that arises from the turmoil, assuring us that indeed God’s kingdom comes. (That’s the message I am getting from our new sanctuary artwork right now. What message are you getting?)
The current political dilemma of families seeking asylum from persecution and violence along the southern border of our country has in recent weeks raised special concern among the baptized for the wellbeing of families and children within that dilemma. And given the regard God’s way of life has for all families and children, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has joined voices with many other Christian and non-Christian faith traditions advocating on their behalf. You can read more about that advocacy here: http://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/7935.
Please know that I am praying for you and your own participation as the baptized amid this and all of the other politics that are local to us here and now:
- That you may keep yourselves informed from a variety of trustworthy and reliable sources.
- That you may find comfort and a healthy perspective through God’s Word of hope in worship, scripture and faithful dialogue.
- And that God might shape your lives of faith and mine to be fruitful vessels for the heavenly kingdom that comes indeed, through Christ Jesus our Lord.