Religion and Politics

Politics and religion. Can they occupy the same air? I believe they can and that they do and that they have to. Intersections, you know? Politics is policy that affects people, and religion is about loving people. When we see a government institution failing, or, even worse, oppressing and marginalizing people groups. We step in and say “Hell no!” Why? Because we love people. Taking care of other image bearers is kinda our purpose. Walking in their shoes, seeing through their eyes, seeing Jesus in them. This leads us to understanding, conviction, and reconciliation. And as we do so our eyes are opened to the injustice image bearers face by worldly powers. We step in, we call out, we raise a holy resistance. We speak for life because Jesus is life! We speak for hope because Jesus is hope! We demand justice because Jesus is justice! We plead for mercy because Jesus is mercy! We get dirty and we raise a ruckus because we can not stand by as our brothers and sisters face violence. We can not stand by in silence. We can not ignore. NO! Jesus called us to this life of loving His world. And if the church is not raising holy hell about the mistreatment’s both in His church and in government institutions; the marginalizing, the systemic oppression’s. We’re missing the ever lovin’ mark. We’re missing out on loving wholly. And even worse if we are not speaking out on these things and if we are actively resisting involving ourselves in them. If we’re resisting gaining knowledge or ignoring oppression.. We are complicit in the worldly ways of power and domination. We are complicit in the pain and hardships and violence that is raining down on the margins.

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“Wherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But they went on with the conviction that they were a ‘colony of heaven’ and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest. Things are different now. The contemporary Church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the archsupporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the Church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the Church’s  silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.”
– Martin Luther King Jr., Letter From the Birmingham Jail

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And we’re scared of this. I know that. I was scared when I was first thrown into social justice and the inevitable politics of it all. I’m still scared. But something happened and a holy fire of anger began to burn in me. I learned that my ignorance and my shaking of my head at injustice, but lack of action was complicity. I was convicted and that fire became hotter. The more I learned, I began to see: She was fanning the flame, Holy Spirit. Pushing me out of timidity (1 Timothy 1:7) and into a new courage to speak against the powers that oppress.  I didn’t allow this for so long. But we are called to cultivate our gifts and the Holy Spirit will breathe through us. More and more I was learning that my gift was in written word and in loving on the margins. I couldn’t deny it any longer, in fact, it would be sinful to do so. Holy Spirit awakening me. She’s calling to me from the margins.

And that brings me to women. Damn. Holy Spirit breathing through women.

This. I’m falling in love with the Spirit that inhabits women, fiercely. Because women are bringing it.  Women are breaking boundaries with their fire. Phew. Daily I read, see, hear women who have already picked up or are just now picking up their gifts and roaring. And I am just over here nodding, and saying “amen“. Holy cannoli, ladies. I am encouraged constantly these days by your beautiful resistance to power structures. And I am falling more in love with Jesus as I see how other women love Him. A woman empowered by the Holy Spirit is a fierce force. Dangerous Love being sown through out the world. Take note, church.

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To love at all is to be vulnerable. – C.S. Lewis

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Love will do that though, right? Grab us out of our safety and push us into the world to speak on the behalf of the widow, the orphan, the poor, the oppressed. Yes. The church must be involved. Both in community of believers and also in the greater politics of it all. We must pursue justice. In justice we will experience reconciliation. In justice we will shower mercy. In justice we will breathe the life of our Jesus. In justice we will bring hope. No either/or. As hands and feet, we are in both. We are in this world to bring the Kingdom. And we are being asked right now: Will we stand with refugees? Will we stand with immigrants? Will we stand with People of Color? Will we stand with Muslims? Will we stand with women? Will we stand with the poor? Will we stand with the LGBTQI community?

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If we want to love our neighbor we will naturally get involved in building the systems that lead to flourishing, and fighting to change the unjust systems that target the poor, weak and marginalized. We can’t pretend to love our neighbor while we ignore the realities that hurt them. -Aaron Niequist

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We can not ignore. We can not simplify it, we can not compartmentalize it. Religion and Politics intertwine because they both involve image bearers. And where ever human beings are, the church needs to be. Not lobbying for power. Not working for greed and military excellence. No, the church needs to be where humans are, speaking for the margins. Saying, “Hold up. This isn’t right. This is hurting image bearers”.

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“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly . I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to                             be until I am what I ought to be.. This is the inter-related structure of reality.”

     “A nation that continues to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching Spiritual death.”      

– Martin Luther King Jr., Letter From the Birmingham Jail

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