As political scandals mount up, it is easy to get disheartened. But politics affects all of our lives, says Tim Farron, and Christians need to be involved
The theme of ‘A Mucky Business’, the podcast that I record each week for Premier, is that politics is important, and that Christians should care about it because politics impacts everyone. As Christians, we believe that every human being is made in God’s image and holds immense dignity. Because of that, we are called to love one another. And we can’t do that if we avoid the thing that affects them the most. Politics is about how we order our society. It is part of how we live out our faith because God cares about the details of our daily lives.
When it comes to politics, I am certain that Christians must not be reactionary, panicking at every twist and turn of political drama, but we must care deeply. If you are reading this, I will assume that you already have some sort of interest. But in 2022, how can you best engage that in a way that shows love to your neighbours and brings glory to God?
You may feel that what you do is unimportant. But God told Zechariah not to despise the day of small things
In Exodus 3 and 4, we see Moses arguing with God that he is the wrong person to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. “Who am I to do that?” he asks. God answers him, almost comically: “What’s in your hand?” Moses had a shepherd’s staff in his hand. A stick. And God uses that stick lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
So, today, what’s in your hand? Where has God placed you? What injustices can you see in your community that nag away at you? What has he placed on your heart?
Here are some ideas for the new year:
1. Get involved
Think about the issues you care about. Pick one and seek to understand it better. Find out where it is being discussed, listen to the debates, become better informed and perhaps enter into the process by writing to your MP or local councillor with your concerns. Go and meet them at their surgery.
2. Look around you
Where do you interact with your community? Your church, workplace, place of study, your children’s school? The local shop, green spaces, public transport, the doctor’s surgery? What do you spend your time on and where does this take you? These are all our ‘ordinary’ places: where we live, work and play. Wherever God has placed you, you can be his hands and feet in your community. Who can you talk to and engage with? Where can you help? What issues need resolving?
3. Living and serving
In Romans, Paul explains the nature of human sin, the just (but horrific) consequences of that sin, and then gives us the good news of God’s mercy to us in Jesus. Having set all of this out, he begins chapter 12 by saying: “in view of God’s mercy…offer your bodies as a living sacrifice”. Being a living sacrifice is something we do in the light of God’s mercy towards us, and surely means serving wherever we are placed. What could that service look like?
Prayer should always be the first, last and continuous thing we do as Christians. Pray for guidance, for wisdom, for God’s perspective on the issues we face. Pray for God to reveal an issue to you which you could focus your attention on. Prayer is the power of God in every situation, so please pray for your politicians - local and national. Pray for wisdom for the issues they grapple with. And encourage your church to pray regularly for them too.
Where has God placed you? What injustices can you see in your community that nag away at you?
A cloud of witnesses
You may feel that what you do is unimportant. But remember that God told Zechariah not to despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10). Often, we look to Daniel as a bold example of faith, obedience and sacrifice – a believer in high office whose love for God led him to take a terrifying stand. What rarely gets mentioned though, is that as far as we know, Daniel served quietly, diligently and effectively for years - if not decades - in Babylon before the lion’s den episode.
And so, as we face 2022 and all of the political upheavals that it has already brought, can I challenge you to pick one issue to engage with this year, be it local, national or international. Be willing to get your hands dirty and your heart broken as, in the light of God’s mercy to you, you seek to love your neighbour through this mucky business of politics.
Inform yourself, pray for wisdom and guidance, pray for those involved and see what God does… and why not tell us about it? I’d love to hear your stories.