On Thursday we had the chance to go to the polls to vote in the local council elections and to vote in the referendum about the voting system our country uses.
I suspect you, like me, have heard it said before that faith and politics don’t mix. This is a country where both these things are kept private, things we don’t talk about in company. I fear, however, I am with Desmund Tutu who said, “I am puzzled about which Bible people are reading when they suggest religion and politics don’t mix.”
I believe that it is extremely important that we get involved in politics as Christians. Why? Because of what the Bible says. Psalm 122 calls its readers to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, to seek its security and prosperity in order that God’s people can live in peace. Romans 13 charges us to submit to authorities as it is God which has permit them to exist. The Prophets tell us that God holds them to account for their rule and us for how we respond to their authority, and repeatedly they, and Jesus himself, call God’s people to practise justice and to stand up for the orphan, the widow and the alien. All of this is politics.
Of course, the tool of democratic politics, the vote, is at the heart of God’s saving work. In Ephesians Paul writes:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will … to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (Ephesians 1:3-10)
I took a while before Thursdays vote to weigh up the options, and came to a firm decision not so long before writing the X on the paper. It could be said that the Cross is God’s polling slip, upon which God made known his yes to us, his love, but unlike me, he had made up his mind how to vote long before then. He decided to seek us out to make us his children (the theological term for this is ‘elected’) even before the world was created. His love for us has never been in doubt.
Theologians have debated the extent and nature of this election throughout the centuries. Personally, I think verses such as John 3:16 are key. There it tells us that God so loved the world that he sent his Son; the word for world being ‘cosmos’ in the original Greek – in other words God’s love extends beyond us, the church, to the whole of creation.
This is where God’s vote in Ephesians 1 is directed. This passage tells us not only who God has chosen, us, but also why, to work towards bringing unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ, reconciling all things in him and through him.
Church newsletter article for 8th May 2011