On Wednesday there was the second part of a debate between the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg MP and the leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage MEP over whether or not Britain should stay in the EU ahead of the election of members of the European Parliament on the 22nd May. Of course this isn’t the only vote taking place this year, the other being the Scottish Independence Referendum in September. Of course, it’s not my place to tell you how to vote when and if you are eligible to, although inevitably from time to time my political leanings will show. But as a Christian I do believe it is important to be involved in politics because Jesus’ teachings are political in nature. Now I’m not saying he spoke about policies and legislation all the time, and the merits of different ways of governing and philosophies such as democracy, capitalism, communism, monarchy etc. but he did have a lot to say about power and wealth and most importantly our relationships with each other – and at the end of the day that is what politics is all about.
Reflecting on Jesus’ teaching and politics, one story out of all of them comes to mind, the story of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37. In a discussion about the command to love our neighbours as ourselves, Jesus is asked how we know who our neighbours are. He answers with a story, the sorry tale of a man on the road to Jericho who is mugged and left for dead. Three men see him lying there. The first two are fellow-Jews; a priest and Levite. They hurry past, afraid of being mugged themselves or somehow becoming unclean. The third is a Samaritan. To say the Samaritans and the Jews did not get on would be an understatement and yet it is the Samaritan who stops and cares for him. Jesus ends with a question leading to a deeper and more important answer than the one the man sought, who was the neighbour to the man? The answer given was the man who showed mercy. Jesus’ follow-up instruction was simple and yet demanding, ‘Go and do likewise.’
I can’t help but wonder if Jesus is being subversive here, trying to change the nature of our relationships and our politics, moving us away from the question of how can I secure the best outcome for myself or for my people or for our country, to how can I secure the best for others, especially those less privileged or more vulnerable than myself? This doesn’t directly give us the answer of who or what to vote for when elections come, but cuts to the heart of the questions we need to be considering as we weigh up our options on the ballot paper, and indeed in our daily dealings with those around us in office, church and family politics.
Church Newsletter article, 6th April 2014