Friday, November 21, 2014

[Christians + Politics]

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In many ways I have been a "luchadora (fighter)" since I was a child. My mother tells me that I would negotiate my way out or into things and would not give up easily. This trait followed me into my teenage years, twenties and is still following me today in my early thirties (my husband can really attest to my passionate spirit; gotta love that guy.). Last year I began my journey as a graduate student in a Master of Public Administration (MPA) program and if you do not remember the back story, I invite you to click here to read. Anyway, all of this to say that the career path God has chosen for me may lead me to be a federal or local government worker, start my own non-profit organization, or even run for public office in my state (or federal level). Only God knows what will happen in my life; maybe just one of the three major options or maybe all three. God and time will tell. 

I am a Christian and over the years as I have become more civically and politically engaged and have found my niche, I've also encountered more criticism from folks who strongly believe that Christians and politics should not mix. One of the first things people will say is that "politicians are conniving, vile, selfish, [insert many more negative adjectives] and that's no place for Christian people." To that I say, "That's even more reason to be involved; to be the change agent, the anomaly." Sure, the conniving type of politicians exist, but aren't a couple of the people sitting in our church pews or even church boards the same way? My point is there is good and bad everywhere. Just because we hear more about the rotten politicians on Capitol Hill or in our state capitols, does not mean that every single lawmaker is vile. There are individuals who take their civic duty to the heart and have been effecting change for their constituents throughout the years. If you are a solid Christian (or non-Christian) with integrity, passion and love for others, why not effect change? Are we just going to shy away because there are conniving and "no-good" individuals in the same workforce? We barely hear about those extraordinary lawmakers because let's be real, when was the last time you saw a "feel good" story about a member of congress in section A1 (front page) of The Washington Post (or any other publication)? Our society rather hear the juicy details of the lawmakers affair than what that public official is doing for thousands in their district/state.

Five years ago (September 2009) I had the honor and privileged of being selected to have a unscripted dialogue with the (then) President of my denomination (membership of 17.9 million individuals worldwide as of June 2013) and other Washington, DC area young professionals. The president did not have our questions beforehand and the session was intended to be a free-flowing conversation. I remember burning with excitement and curiosity to ask my question and I did. I asked the president what his thoughts were on members of my denomination mixing with politics, and him being pleasantly surprised at the question [Note: I spent about 20 minutes searching for video of this dialogue, but it's not posted anywhere]. However, there is a news article about it and here are some of the most relevant (to this topic) and interesting excerpts from what the president discussed:

"Be agents of change in both the church and the community."

"Far too few of our members are engaged in any way in the community," "How are we going to reach people if we do not bother to step into their world? We have to stop and ask ourselves a critical question: 'Have we got it right?' The answer is, 'No, not quite right." [Said in regards to being civically and community engaged]

With several participants employed in government jobs, the conversation naturally turned to political involvement. When one participant [that would be me!!] asked whether members should exercise caution when choosing careers in politics, Paulsen said, "If anything, I think we have erred by being too reticent to get involved."
As long as members don't muddle their church's agenda with their civic duty, Paulsen said he saw no reason members shouldn't seek elected public office.
"The church is a voice for right values," Paulsen said. "If laws are compromised and freedom is in danger, we shouldn't be afraid to influence public opinion. We should weigh the issues carefully, know what we're defending and let our voice be heard."
Wise advice, right? To read the full article, which includes other discussed topics, click here.

I do not know where the road will lead me. My God-given passion to advocate, educate, and be involved in my community and politics may lead me to run for office one day or maybe it will not at all. Either way, I know what my personal calling is; to bring light to this world which also might include more immigration rallies, other protests, the halls of congress, the halls of my state capitol, the halls of my future non-profit organization, the community around me, etc. Am I going to stay quiet just because some folks think Christians and politics should not mix and criticize or look down on me? Absolutely not. I look to the Bible and God (not humans), for specific divine life instruction. 

If you feel the burning desire to be a light in the community or in the political arena, ask God to guide your steps and embrace it! Trust me, if it's God's will for your life He will lead every move you make. Speak and rise up, children of God! 

Further Study about Christians + Politics

  • Study the story of Joseph, who was a "political hero" in the Bible times. To read the verses (Genesis 41:41 and on) in the Bible, click here. To read a blog post (not mine) about how we can apply the lesson of Joseph in today's world of politics, click here.
  • Study the story of a strong Christian who lived after the Bible times; Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. He was not afraid of mixing politics and Christianity and look at all he accomplished with God on His side! To read more about his life, click here.
  • Romans 13:1 says, "Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God." 
    • Basically to me this is saying GOD is in control and places the politicians in their respective position. It's ALL part of His divine plan. That's comforting, right?
  • Check out this website, Christians in Politics, based in the United Kingdom (London, England) that serves as a platform for Christians (non-party and non-denominational) involved, or seeking to get involved in politics or public life.


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