Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Alternative Politics

The problem with having theological discussions of governance issues is that American Christians often feel a responsibility to govern. This is the toll participation in a democracy takes on us. When everyone gets a vote, when it's government by the people, we feel responsible for having a governing solution. This is why I'm so convinced we have to reclaim Christianity as an alternative politic. My responsibility, as a Christian, is not to a nation or a government (or even a form of government), it's a responsibility to love -
to love the people around me, to love my enemies, to love the whole of creation.

Christianity is an alternative form of politics that exists within, contrary to, and separate from the political machinations of the world. When I say, "all people deserve healthcare" or "borders and citizenship shouldn't dictate how people are treated," often the response is "how do we make a law to ensure that" or "how can we fit that within the constitutional framework." A Christian response really is - and should be - who cares?
It's not our responsibility to ensure the United States of America functions properly - or even exists. We're here to live into the Kingdom of God. To love people, to suffer patiently, to act like Jesus.

This is ultimately why I'd argue a Christian perspective on governance is anarchy. It's not the anarchy of Purge movies, but a place in which people aren't forced to do anything, but challenged to sacrifice for the other.Governments and forms of government come and go - there are always attempts by people to gain, seize, exercise, and maintain power. Christians are called to avoid power games - to renounce them and condemn them.

The Church is an alternative politic where those who have give willing to those who don't - where there is a race to the bottom, so to speak,
where people are glad to do with less and less so our neighbors can have enough.

I'm not sure you could ever run a government that way, but it's not really my concern.

I can say, "there should be no borders," because there shouldn't. All people are equal - race, creed, nationality, none of it matters - that's truth. People should have access to healthcare, food, education, work, a loving community. If that messes with your constitution or causes problems with your government, so be it - it doesn't make the truth any less true.

Governments are, at their core, attempts to isolate "us" from the problems that exist elsewhere. Christians are called to immerse themselves in those problems, to suffer with those who suffer. When we allow ourselves to be constrained by the laws or Constitutions of the governments in which we reside, we are putting those things above the core tenets of our faith.

Too often American Christians (and perhaps Christians around the world) really expect their faith to inform a reformed version of government -
this is certainly the perspective of many evangelicals who run for and/or are elected to office - but really Christianity was designed to be a way of life outside those manufactured human institutions. The gospel of Jesus ends religion itself; it ends government.

Our core belief is that the Spirit of God can and does change people, that God's love - expressed in and through us - can and will overcome whatever inevitable ugly reaction we get from sharing it unconditionally. The road isn't easy - Jesus said as much, if the whole crucifixion thing didn't prove it - but it's the only one worth living and suffering and dying for.

We need to reclaim the gospel as a true alternative and not the magic elixir that will fix the world we've created.

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