Living in Today’s Political and Social Environment
How is a Christian to live today? Quietly under the radar, living peacefully and in prayer for all people? Participating in social activism by anything from marching with placards to boycotting businesses with questionable stances on human rights? Home-schooling our children in order to protect them from what seems to be a downward-spiraling society? Sending them to public school and helping to improve the school system? Voting for conservative government? Voting for liberal government? Wearing a safety pin to show your support for equal rights? Wearing a Trump tee shirt to show your support for immigration reform and trade protectionism?
The truth is that devout Christians represent all and more of the positions listed above.
How should I, your rector, approach these matters? Since I am duty-bound to minister with equal care to all people in our congregation and community, I do not “preach politics”. This is not because I do not have opinions--believe me, I do!-- but because God loves us all equally. But most importantly, I have something better to preach than politics; and that is, as Paul says, “I am compelled to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I Corinthians 2:2
That leaves us with an important assumption by which we must live: Whatever political/social/economic position we take as individuals, we will care for one another with the love of Jesus that we have received, and we will treat one another with dignity and respect. This leaves us free to follow Jesus in our unique and widely-differentiated callings.
Several varied and lasting lines of thought have arisen to which Christians have adhered down through the ages . Each has helped to shape political and societal behavior. All of these approaches have validity and legitimacy. All of these approaches need to be balanced by the others. We should study their development in order to have healthy perspective and respect for each. This is a large part of what used to be the glory and heritage of us Episcopal Anglicans; i.e., that our roof, our baptismal vows and our God is great enough to house people of all stripes and stances and that, above all, we preach Christ crucified.
Richard Foster’s book Streams of Living Waters traces beautifully the 6 main streams, or traditions, of Christian expression. It is well worth the read lest, ignorant of our rich heritage, we neglect and forget some of the important aspects of who we are as children of God.
1) The Contemplative Tradition 2) The Holiness Tradition 3) The Charismatic Tradition
The Prayer-Filled Life The Virtuous Life The Spirit-Empowered Life
4) The Social Justice Tradition 5) The Evangelical Tradition 6) The Incarnational Tradition
The Compassionate Life The Word-Centered Life The Sacramental Life
The beauty of our congregation at St. George's is that we have people who represent all of these faith traditions. This diversity of branches in our Christian Family Tree is what keeps us a healthy, cross-pollenated and--to use a loaded term, but by now you know what I mean--truly inclusive people.
Many traditions have been built upon the cornerstone of our faith. We need to include them all. I hope that our brothers and sisters across the wider communion will remember this, as well. And that includes those who speak through social media, as well!