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Unmentionables: (Religion & Politics).

As many of you know I am quite political…

So just thought I’d do a short message about politics and faith.

Christians seem reluctant to enter this sphere, and yet it is vital that we have Christians acting with ‘salt and light’ integrity within politics, journalism, the arts all places of influence. For too long we have only been talking with those who agree with us often hidden away in our Church buildings.

I think that people fall foul of three heresies.

1) Firstly the Victorian myth that ‘Religion is a private matter’ something diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus who talked about his Kingdom spreading like wild mustard plants (like Japanese Knot weed) faith is not something that exists purely between us and God like a private hobby, but an all consuming life transforming life of its own.

2) The second is a misunderstand of spirituality, we fall into the trap of believing in the existence of a spiritual secular divide, God is interested in our whole lives, not just our religious or churchy bits. The incarnation (God becoming human) makes this heresy an affront to Christianity. The Temple Curtain was torn in two, ripping up this way of thinking.

3) The third its a myth that the Bible has nothing to say about current issues such as 0 hour contracts (a worker deserves their pay), about refugees (“Remember you were aliens in a foreign land”) about hunger, homelessness and deprivation (“What you did to the least of these you did to me” -Jesus. Or as Mother Teresa said “in the poor we see Jesus in his most distressing disguises”)…

I remember one of the most challenging sermons I ever heard was at Soul Survivor and Dave Westlake (from Tearfund) threw a bible of the floor which had all the verses about Justice cut out, the Bible was in ribbons, tons and tons of writing in scripture is about how we treat each other… How we treat each other is political.

The Greatest Commandment is a massively political… “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, Soul, Mind and Strength”, in other words your highest loyalty, a loyalty beyond state or nation, Emperor or President is to Jesus Christ.

Bonhoeffer refused to do the infamous Nazi Salute as ‘Heil Hitter’ was heresy to him, Hittler was not Lord but Jesus was.  Bonhoeffer would acknowledge no King above Christ, this ultimately cost him his life.

The second half of the greatest commandment is equally political “Love your neighbour as yourself”.

Who is my neighbour? -In response to this Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.

So, who is my neighbour?  We could take from this passage either its everyone, or it is the broken, marginalised, disenfranchised and hurting. Its political.

Love is political.

Transformation is political.

Hope is political.

Everything ultimately is political.

…and everything actually is Spiritual too….

Ultimately they are the two things that underpin everything that matters as to how we live our lives.

So, how are we to live our lives?

We are called not just to verbally “preach the gospel” but to pray and live out the words of Jesus when he prayed: “let your Kingdom come on earth as in heaven”

Moltmann talked about a theology of hope, we believe in a God of transformation, we believe in redemption, we believe in healing all of which need to be heard, and lived out (or as I just mistyped “loved out”!).

Yet, the danger I fall into is becoming party political rather than just political active, we should be protesting about injustice irrespective of the ‘colour’ of the party our MP belongs too.

I know too, we can attack people, I struggle with people like David Cameron, Ian Duncan Smith et el… but biblically they are real people who I am called to love…We have no mandate to hate them, even when we disagree with them.

I long for Christians to lead the way in good disagreement conducted with grace, love and respect (and passion/compassion too).

So a challenge, today get political and love your neighbour as yourself.

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