Posted on January 19, 2010 - by Jamie Wamsley
What I’m about to do is the blogging equivalent of pulling the pin and tossing a live hand grenade – but I honestly wish that weren’t the case.
I’m going to talk about religion AND politics. At the same time. Crazy! I know.
Here’s the deal, I love politics - I would quickly self-identify as a political junkie.
I am also a follower of Jesus Christ.
And I think those two spheres intersect one another in a significant way.
I wish these subjects (especially both mixed together) were much less explosive. I think that earnest and sincere dialogue around competing ideas is really important – I know how sharpened I am through conversations with people that think differently than I do.
But they are explosive and for that reason, allow me to qualify and clarify a few things…
First, I am not committed to one party over another.
I am not a Republican and I am not a Democrat.
I am a person that has spent some time thinking about about a wide range of issues. As I have, I’ve developed a few convictions – and a much broader set of fluid, evolving perspectives and positions.
Honestly, aspects of both parties appeal to me – but neither of them really reflect my perspective in a way that would make me comfortable identifying myself with them.
Second, I don’t believe that anyone can separate what they believe from who they are or how they think (at least, in a healthy way).
Whether you like it or not, religion plays a role in the political life in America. And the same goes for secularism. The reason is that some of our leaders believe in God, some don’t, and most are somewhere in between.
If we think that our leaders can set aside what they are convinced is true about life – what they’ve seen, what they’ve experienced, what they understand as reality – and process national policy decisions from a completely detached position, I think we are fooling ourselves.
I think that wanting them to do that is border-line insane.
I am convinced that everybody – everybody – is shaped by their worldview. And that religion, or a lack of it, is a defining characteristic of a person’s worldview.
People will bring all of who they are into their elected (or appointed) office. I actually think that people intuitively get this – and that this is why there are such heated battles around a person’s religion.
Third, I don’t think that politics will ever solve anything.
A friend once told me that “laws follow the common sense of the people.”
His point was that laws do not shape people’s thinking so much as they reflect it. So if you want to change the country, focus less on changing the law and more on changing the common sense of the people. In that vein of thinking, I have come to a place the greatest challenges our country faces are spiritual in nature – and so are the solutions.
But, I do love politics and I do think they are important, and here’s why…
Politics are a window into the soul of our nation.
Every campaign, every candidate, every election is an opportunity to understand what people care about (as well as what they don’t) – and why.
It is the most accurate way I know of to get the pulse of a group of people at any given point in time.
Yes – it is muddy and complicated and the conclusions are often less than clear - but they do provide a genuine sense of what is on people’s minds.
Elections reveal people’s felt needs; what they fear, what they desire, what they think they need.
They reveals their priorities, what they think are the most important issues of our day.
And they reveal their perspectives, how they process the world around them.
When I see those things – I see an opportunity for God.
I see how and where God can intersect with their lives.
I see a way to share God with them in a way that is meaningful, relevant and attractive.
And I grow in my conviction that God, and not any party, candidate or political outcome – is the answer for every person, in every place, in every thing.
For me, God lives in politics in a way that moves me closer to Him.
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