Monday, February 11, 2019

JESUS-FOLLOWING & POLITICS

Sermon-prepping, in Starbucks

















Politically, America is deeply divided. As a follower of Jesus, how do I evaluate this condition? What do I do about this? How shall I think about this?

I am doing two things, personally.

1) I have identified certain guiding principles; and 
2) I keep studying and learning. For me, this means disengaging from social media arguments, and finding the best scholarship available that can help me, in the first place, understand the issues. And, BTW, I in no way claim to have great understanding. But it is, I believe, growing. This means I am mostly uninterested in people who want to argue political issues without first putting a lot of work into understanding those issues. This may not be you, but it is me.


A FEW GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR ME

  • Change hearts first. When hearts are changed, systems transform.
  • Focus on issues, not political alignment.
  • I must understand before I evaluate. Usually, this takes time. This means I often hesitate to jump on someone's political bandwagon. Because, I don't yet understand the issues. (I'm not saying I never have done this. I am saying I don't want to do this. This will upset some people, some of whom may understand less than I do.)
  • Attack arguments, not people (no ad hominem abusiveness please). Evaluate arguments; formulate arguments. Love people.
  • Lift up Jesus, the one who changes hearts and minds, and from whom we Christians acquire our ethics.
  • Deepen your abiding life in Christ, as the first thing to do. All relevant, Spirit-led action comes from this ongoing attachment to Christ.
  • When the Holy Spirit identifies a socio-cultural need and burdens you with it, labor in the Spirit to achieve transformation. For example, my church family helped begin a soup kitchen that provides a meal every day of the year, serving 75-150 a night. For example, my church family has been involved in serving and raising support for ministries that rescue women out of sex trafficking. For example, Linda and I have, over the decades, provided free counseling for needy marriages and families (this is ongoing, to the very moment I am typing these words).
  • Study and grow in learning about the relationship between following Jesus and political involvement. This will assist you in transcending shallow, uninformed, hate-filled debating. Here are some resources that have taken me deeper.



SOME RESOURCES THAT HAVE HELPED ME (These are resources I have read and studied, and have helped me better understand the relationship between religion and politics. Surely there are more. What books have helped you?)



And, of course, keep saturating yourself in Scripture.

Do I agree with everything written in these books? 

Of course not. I don't even agree with everything you say. 

And, I have said things that, upon reflection, have caused me to disagree with myself.

***
My two books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

I'm now working on...


Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart 

Technology and Spiritual Formation

I am editing a book of essays on the Holy Spirit, authored by my HSRM colleagues. Hopefully this book will be out by the end of May.

And, when all this settles, Linda and I intend on writing our book on Relationships.