Thursday, November 22, 2007

Politics and the Black Church: Where Do We Fit In? by I.C. Jackson

If you follow the national news at all, you certainly have at least heard of “the Christian Right”, the moniker for Christian Republicans who are politically aware and active. Most of these Americans, unfortunately, are White.

Why is that unfortunate, you ask?

It’s unfortunate because such a unilateral demographic is indicative of the ignorance that remains within the Black community about the role of government and politics in the lives of citizens, Christian citizens in particular.

The common misconception among Black Christians is that politics should be avoided because we are not supposed to be entangled with the cares of this life (Mark 4:19, Luke 21:34). While it is true that we are not to be overly concerned with natural issues, it does not mean that we are to be apathetic. If that were the case, we shouldn’t watch television, read the paper, or do anything other than go to church and witness to the unsaved. It would mean that we shouldn’t care about anything that is not directly religious. You know, however, that life is a little more complicated than that and God is not so rigid. There are earthly issues that affect you and your family, and there is no wisdom is sitting down and letting the devil dictate the climate of your community or environment because you want to lie around and pray all day.

Faith without works is dead...

Therefore, you are not morally or spiritually superior when you say, “Oh, I don’t get involved in all of that.” As a matter of fact, you are actually leaning dangerously close to the opposite side of the spectrum in doing so.

Here’s why:

It is true that the Bible shows us that although we are in the world, we are not of the world (John 17:16, Romans 12:2). However, since we are in it, we will inevitably interact with others who are not of the faith, and we will be faced with causes and concerns that are not directly spiritual. Not being “of the world” is not just about activities we refrain from, but also about how we handle those everyday circumstances that everyone faces. We determine what level of involvement is appropriate by simply referring to the word of God concerning our behavior in a particular arena, not avoiding the issue altogether. Avoidance is a byproduct of fear, and God has not given us the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), so let us search the scriptures to find out exactly how involved God wants us to be in the political arena.

Well, for starters, the Bible says that God ordains government officials for his own will (Romans 13:1-4). 1 Timothy 2:1-3 tells us to pray for our governmental leaders. Joseph was made governor of all Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, and in turn saved his people.

His government office was not only ordained by God, his placement within the Egyptian government was the perfect will of God. Furthermore, Proverbs 29: 2 tells us that “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” In America, how does one come into authority? He or she is voted in! So, we actually have some control over whether or not the people of God mourn or rejoice in this respect. While the candidates themselves may not be saved, sanctified, and Holy Ghost filled, many do fight for righteous causes and principles, and those are what we in modern times are supposed to stand behind and even fight for when necessary. At the very least, we are supposed to vehemently stand against wickedness in our land, such as gay marriage, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and government dependency.

How much more does the Black community have to mourn before we realize that much of our mourning is due to our own ignorance and apathy? When are we going to assume responsibility for our own future and begin to take a discerning look at the policies and platforms of those we vote for instead of just taking their word about how they are the only ones who “really care” about the Black community? When are some of us going to get up and vote, period? Don’t we owe it to our children, our churches, and our community to do our part in ensuring that the wickedness that some choose to live by doesn’t become legalized policy and social standard? Have you ever read in the Bible where God encouraged his people to stand idly by as the devil wreaked havoc on their community?

Being a Christian doesn’t excuse you from political awareness and responsibility; it calls you to it.

I.C. Jackson is my right hand sister and is part of the One Network fron Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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