I got into my car, flipped the radio on, and my heart sank. Once again, reports of a school shooting filled my car. As I mulled over my different emotions – grief, anger, numbness – I began to wonder, what is my role?
I know my role as a mom: to protect my daughter. I know my role as American: to vote and advocate for a better America. But as a Christian what is my role?
How do we as Christians navigate a world of politics? How do we know what to say, when scripture doesn’t mention the different topics that we are debating on the national stage?
We are called to be a blessing to the nations. When God first made his covenant with Abram, he said, “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” This is such a central point of God’s promise that he repeats it, “And through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Israel was created as a people that blessed the world through their obedience to the Lord.
Even when the Israelites were in captivity, they were commanded to seek the prosperity of their captors. Jeremiah prophesied, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage so that they to may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.” God even commanded the Israelites to be a blessing to their enemies.
And Jesus continued this teaching. He taught his disciples to heal and bless those they met. He taught people to love their neighbors and defined neighbor as everyone. He told Peter that to love him, meant to feed and care for his sheep. Jesus connected doing good works to glorifying God, teaching, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see our good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Paul continues this teaching in Ephesians, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Following God requires us to bless others through our actions.
As a blessing to the nation, we must be involved in the national conversations. We must be the voice of hope when the world seems hopeless. We are required to bring light to a dark world and to love those that don’t feel loved.
God’s Kingdom Come
However, being a blessing means that sometimes we must do more than pray. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that prayer brings about change. I also believe that prayer compels us to act. I distinctly remember praying for the sex trafficking victims in Atlanta. As I prayed, I was compelled by the spirit to step up and volunteer with an organization that provided relief to victims of the sex trafficking industry. To ignore the spirit and just pray, would have been ignoring the listening part of prayer.
When Jesus was on earth, he taught that his Kingdom is coming. As Christians, we are compelled to usher that kingdom here. Isaiah describes the kingdom as a place where,
“The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.”
When God’s kingdom reigns, we will not be violent towards one another. This peaceful world is coming, and it is our responsibility to usher it in with our prayers, words, and actions.
Our prayers must proceed action. God’s kingdom is coming, and we are responsible for bringing it here. We must engage in the conversations that are happening in our country so that we can help bring God’s kingdom here.
Bucking the System
Sometimes to be a blessing, we must first be a thorn. When we see injustices, we are compelled to speak out. In Isaiah, God says, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen; to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” Following Jesus demands that we fight for justice.
Too many Christians choose to be good over following Christ. When we see the chains of violence killing our children, we must engage in civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is commanded in scripture because our hope is not in this world. We do not trust in the right to bear arms to keep us safe, we trust in our LORD, and follow him unequivocally. Even if following him, means choosing to look down the barrel of an AK47 when we are unarmed.
Let’s follow these high school students so that we can throw off the oppressive chains of gun violence.
I don’t know what the answer is to gun control. But I do know that the church's silence is deafening. As people yell back and forth about policies, laws and other 90-second talking points, there is an opening for the God’s people to lead. We can stand up in the middle of the chaos and advocate bringing God’s kingdom here. And if we choose to be a blessing to this country – a place where God has us living in exile till he calls us home – we will see his light shine through the darkness.