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    Religion and politics 

    They say religion and politics are two subjects that friends should avoid talking about because there can be so many opinions and explosive arguments.  Well, we are a church.  We don't believe in religion - if we mean by that humans trying to get to God by their own efforts and trying to exert influence over others - but we do take God very seriously and want to know Him and make Him known.  And proclaiming Jesus is Lord is highly political - it means every other “Lord” or ideology or persuasion or loyalty of any kind has to come second.  That has highly political implications!

    To the First Century people who heard Jesus and the first apostles preach, saying “Jesus is Lord” had an immediate resonance.  It was more significant than singing the national anthem with different words.  It was subversive.  Everywhere in the Roman world soldiers and officials began their business by raising their right arm and declaring “Caesar is Lord” or “Hail Caesar!”  It was a greeting. It was a declaration of loyalty to the  state.  

    On baptism and at other times, new Christians would declare “Jesus is Lord!”  We often take this for granted or sanitise it, making it apolitical and “purely” spiritual, as though God is only interested in certain aspects of our lives.  No, He is intimately involved and very interested in all our lives.  In fact it is what we do, what choices we make over money and time and our involvements with others, that really show where our hearts are.

    If our loyalty is to Jesus not the government, nor the opposition, what view do we take of some issues in politics today?  In other words - “What would Jesus do?”  How would he vote or what would he argue for? 

    Now I do not want to get into party politics and argue for one minor allegiance over another - our prime allegiance is to the Kingdom of God.  But if we care about the rule of God, whose very nature is love, then we cannot avoid issues of righteousness and justice in our society, or rather unrighteousness and injustice.

    Some Christians care more about issues of personal morality and others about issues of systemic injustice.  I have no problem with some of us feeling more strongly about certain things than others but let’s not limit God to a few issues.  Instead let’s allow Him to speak to us through scripture and through one another because together we “have the mind of Christ.”

    Here are some questions we need to wrestle with.  Is there something wrong with favouring the rich when the Bible has a lot to say about the causes of poverty?  Should we be content to see millions of peple in this country housed in inadequate tenanted properties?  Should we protest over the way the Momentum campaign group within the Labour party (that supports Jeremy Corbyn) seems to be abusing the processes for selecting candidates?  Are we happy to see the Prime Minister fawning upon Chinese  leaders without raising human rights concerns, because China could be be a helpful trading partner.  Is it right that many Christians care about Fair Trade and buy bananas from the Windward Islands that carry the FT mark because they give a fair return to growers, but fail to challenge the unfair trade in UK equipment supplied to oppressive regimes that use to to torture some of their citizens.

    As Christians we have a prophetic role to challenge an unrighteous status quo whatever political party is in power.  That is exactly what Jesus did when He challenged both the Roman and the religious authorities. 

    How can we know and express "the mind of Christ" on these sorts of issues?  Surely it is only by praying together and listening well to the Holy Spirit speak through scripture and through one another.  It is harder work than just repeating political slogans - but it will be worth it if we can play our part in blessing the communities around us and see them change for the better. 

    Chris Horton, 03/02/2018