I am a Christian, ok! For me, as well as many other Christians whom I know, this title has meant a host of several things. For starters, it has meant the strict adherence to a certain list of commands of thou shalts and thou shalt nots. Such are the following: thou shalt have no other God before me, thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not covet, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt…I hope you get the picture. After interpreting the funky King James language that these commands were written in, for the most part, I did not have a problem with them although I have to be truthful in that I did not always live up to their standards being that I fall short of the glory and honor of God. Basically my satisfaction with these is due to the fact that they are God-given, and not human-driven, unlike other commands that we somehow place upon ourselves and others around us.
The specific human-driven command that I want to address here concerns politics. Although it is not written on tablets of stone or for that matter tablets of paper, somehow we have come to understand that to be a Christian means that one does not engage in politics. On the slight chance that one did engage in politics, that person has to be conservative and Republican, as we have been told that conservative values most closely identify with those of Scriptures, and even still, this was mostly so in regards to who to elect for President. After the Republican President is in office, many retire their political concerns for the next four years until there is an opportunity to elect another self-acclaimed ‘Christian’ president. The cycle continues.
Perhaps I am only illuminating my interpretation as far as this un-scribed command is concerned and others have not seen the political- Christian process in the same token. Yet I interpret in light of my experience and my experience has taught me such. Growing up in a home and community where politics was not discussed taught me that such matters were not for us. I also came to believe that politics should be left to the renegades of society who had an agenda up their sleeves and that Christians should reserve themselves to preaching the gospel! I was also a self-proclaimed Republican, not because I knew what that meant or for what they stood for, but because I knew what they stood against- homosexuality and abortion. For me this meant not voting for Senator John Kerry in the November 2004 election, and even going so far as to make calls on behalf of former President Bush (I know, I know. Please don’t stone me!)
I quickly wised up after our former President’s second term in office as I witnessed him make poor decision after poor decision that did not reflect Christian values and instead reflected what seemed to be a personal vendetta against his enemies. As a result, I began to realize that Christianity, or for that matter God Himself, cannot be defined by political party lines but instead we must ensure that Christianity holds such lines to a higher standard of righteousness, honesty, and integrity. As Christians, we have a unique, prophetic voice enabling us to speak to certain things in our society that violate the God-given commands of the Bible.
One of the ways I use my voice is by working for Bread for the World, a Christian organization that seeks to eradicate global poverty and hunger. Members and partners of Bread for the World call on the nation’s leaders to make decisions that will affect positive change in this direction in what is called an Offering of Letter Campaign, an annual campaign that brings together churches, denominations and groups of all types across the country for a purpose larger than any party line by itself can solve: justice.
I have only been working with Bread for the World for a little over six months now and I must admit that my knowledge of all things political is growing rather slow. Yet and still it is growing as I am challenged to not just be a bystander and simply allow things to happen in our nation and in our world without speaking up for the things that are right. Many may disagree with my stance, and may perhaps consider me liberal. As I see it, however, Scripture is filled with references that demand that Christians do something on behalf of those who are the poor and oppressed of society while only a few have a reference to homosexuality and abortion. I hope that in the coming months and years of not only being at Bread, but also being more politically astute that God will use me as a voice and as a tool to do what I otherwise would not have had I stuck to the human-driven commands and stayed out of politics.