BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, GRACE ATTENDER & BLOGGER
I’ve stepped into the long line of Americans who are disgruntled with the operation of the political system that governs our country. Some of them have been calling for change longer than I’ve been alive. Some have stepped away into hopelessness. Some are dealing with an ever-growing anxiety about political outcomes. Watch the news, and you’ll see that a few have even taken unfathomably drastic and irrational measures to make a political statement.
From my young and underdeveloped political perspective, I understand that there’s a lot I don’t know. I was taught that the United States established our democracy so that the people held the power to elect leaders who would represent us. They represent us by advocating for our various interests that include the stimulation of our economy, the welfare of our citizens, and the protection of life, liberty, and property. While I still have a lot to learn, I do know that many good people have dedicated their lives to advocating for people and to serving in the United States political system.
Yet, I struggle, because our country feels the opposite of “united” right now. This process by which we organize our shared lives together ironically seems more like the ultimate American polarization in this moment. I struggle with a nagging suspicion that some of the people wanting to capture our votes are attempting to harness this divisiveness to their advantage. I feel so deeply disappointed when a candidate uses religion as a tool for that. Religion may be easy to use as a label. But I believe that real, authentic faith holds a transcendent power to show us how to achieve actual unity. So I’m standing in line with others who are holding out hope that we can affect change and inspire unity.
Grace Church is where I woke up to the power of true faith. And I believe that we’re currently witnessing Grace Church move into the world in a way that builds unity through the teachings of Jesus Christ. As representatives of Jesus, I believe we have an amazing opportunity before us to fulfill an important role in our country’s politics. We can do this in the following ways:
Call out injustices that are perpetuated within existing political systems.
Demonstrate how the wisdom and love of Jesus can positively impact our society.
Invite politicians, governmental agencies and their constituents to participate.
Calling Out Injustice
Jesus spent His life advocating for the oppressed. Many of the people who turned to follow Jesus had been participants in the oppressive systems He stood up against. Jesus so expertly called people out in ways that offered them the grace to repent and move closer to God. Jesus brought light into a dark world and left us with the responsibility to continue radiating His light.
We must call out injustices that are perpetuated within existing political systems, and we must do so with open hearts. Sometimes policies created with the best intentions can lead to unintended repercussions. It is our duty to keep watch, listen, and respond where there is injustice. A deeply divided country is a great indicator that it’s time to listen and respond.
Demonstrating the Wisdom and Love of Jesus
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. John 14:12
Straight from the mouth of the Lamb, we have the authority to build God’s Kingdom. Political policies and laws are put into place as methods of achieving a desired goal or outcome, but they’ll never match the transformative power of the love and grace modeled by Jesus Christ. Political results aren’t the last word, and we need not rely on them as the sole driver for affecting meaningful change. No matter who is elected or what laws are created, we will continue to love our neighbors as Jesus called us to do. We will continue to serve and advocate for those entrenched the most in systemic injustices. Living our lives as representatives of Jesus will bring hope to the hopeless and rest to the weary. And I believe that as we demonstrate how the wisdom and love of Jesus can positively impact societal goals and outcomes, we may even inspire our political systems to follow suit.
When we are successful at demonstrating how the wisdom and love of Jesus can positively impact our society, it only makes sense to invite politicians, governmental agencies and their constituents to participate. To be absolutely clear, I am not proposing that we seek to infuse political policy with our individual religious beliefs or practices. I believe that God’s grace is so transformational because there are no requirements to receive it other than desiring it. Laws don’t change hearts; God’s grace does change hearts.
Inviting participation means sharing the real, positive outcomes that can lead to greater unity in our country. It may mean influencing the change of a stagnant attitude that is unhelpful or destructive. It may mean standing in solidarity with those who struggle to have their perspectives heard. It may mean offering suggestions for social program reform. It may mean modeling the ability to have crucial conversations about important issues without attacking each other’s character based on party affiliations and other labels that have led to divisiveness. And it may even mean asking for change in the evidence of corruption.
I am particularly filled with hope seeing the people of Grace Church inviting, serving, and sharing community with those who have been oppressed and disgraced by current political sentiments. We’re living proof that love is the better way. In a world that feels so dark sometimes, we are a bright reflection of God’s light. I want this to spread, and I have all the faith that God is with us on this journey.
Being the Foundation
I’ve experienced an identifiable turning point in my life since finding Grace Church. Through it’s wonderful teachings, I’ve become freed of many of the troubles and worries that once plagued my life. I feel grounded in God’s love enough to hold out hope that our country can recapture a shared sense of unity—and enough to know that I can be impactful even if unity evades us longer than we expect.
I believe that another important role of the church in politics is to provide that foundation for people living in our communities. When people feel helpless in the face of a turbulent political climate and in the presence of systemic injustice, we can be the place where they reclaim hope. We can show them how to build on a foundation of rock instead of sand so that life won’t feel like it’s falling out beneath them when the rains fall and the streams rise. We can be the ones to tell them You Were Made for More. Grace Church is a place where people unleash the transcendent power of faith, find their purpose, and move into the world with God’s light illuminating their paths. We can do this.
My hope is to spark respectful conversation about political issues that are important to us. What systemic injustices do you see perpetuated? In what ways could we work together in demonstration of Jesus’ love? How can you invite participation?