Thoughts : Progressive Christianity (Politics) : Christians Changing the World through Politics?

How does a socialist’s vision compare with a Christian’s vision? The socialist’sr aim is ultimately to see a revolution come about. That is their long term aim. What about a Christian’s aim? Will a revolution that ushers in the paradise of a classless society occur?

Many of my Christian friends tell me it’s good to work for change, but they are very critical of me being too involved in politics. They feel that a Christian shouldn’t focus too much on the earth.

In a way that’s true. Of course Christians need to be heavenly minded. But not to the extent that they are no earthly good.

Many of my Christian friends even go to the extent to say something like:

I know you’re working towards a better environment. You want to see evil and oppression eliminated and all. But you should know it’s not going to happen on earth. There’s not going to be a perfect world here. That will only be so in heaven.

I totally agree with them. Utopia or Topia is only going to be in heaven. I am not disillusioned to think that a revolution will bring about a perfect world. Only in heaven will perfection dwell. And that will be in a renewed world in the future.

I’m not disagreeing with that Christian worldview. But whenever my Christian friends start to criticize people who are burdened to see greater change for the better in this world, I think that’s just plain wrong of them.

Just because I and others are pressing hard for changes and are being so burdened to see more and more evil eliminated (and those responsible being brought to justice) and more and more good dwell on earth doesn’t mean that we think that perfection will eventually dwell here on earth because of our efforts. I get very discouraged and angry whenever Christians are so indifferent to social action and fighting for social justice. Worse still, if their indifference stems from the fact that “…only perfection will occur in heaven and therefore let’s focus on other more important spiritual stuff coz whatever work we do to fight for social justice is all going to be in vain or not worth our time…” – if they think as such and thus think it right to criticize me and other politically active and burdened Christians for “not understanding that you won’t be able to change much in this evil world”, I wish I could just shout out to them, “Well, God’s heart is for the poor and oppressed. Seems like you haven’t been reading your Bible lately!”

My burden to help the poor and oppressed and to confront major powers and companies when needed stems from my heart for the poor and oppress which God put in me. And He has a heart for them too.

I strongly believe God would want us to be active politically. This isn’t the mixing or blurring of Church and State. A Christian should live out his faith holistically and that includes in influencing the government and his countrymen. Everthemore when there are people being oppressed and in poverty because of something the State does. We ought to fear God and seek the praises of Him, not of man. We ought never to fear going against the government if our conscience leads us to. God would want us to go against our government if it is oppressive and exploitative.

So we politically active Christians don’t see social justice as the all in all. We realize that it’s only in heaven that perfection will dwell. We realize we will never change this world to such an extent when only peace will dwell. We realize human nature is fallen and thus evil, but that doesn’t make us helpless or pessimistic or think that demanding social justice is a lost cause.

But just because we are so zealous in seeking social justice and in our social actions doesn’t mean we don’t realize that the Gospel alone is that which can cause a change of biblical proportions in the hearts of people. We are under no illusion that politics or activism can do that. Only the Holy Spirit working through the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can greatly transform lives.

But eventhough in a sense we can’t change the hearts of people or change lives the way only the Spirit can, that doesn’t mean we cannot see change come about in the hearts of man. We can.

I got into a debate with a Christian about whether change is possible in a man’s heart without the Spirit. He seemed to deny any change is possible. To me that’s an extreme position.

Truth is, change is possible. We want the world to be changed for the better. Politically active Christians want to see people more aware of the great oppression and poverty in the world and to feel for these people and to want to make a difference for these people. That’s why we talk politics, that’s why we are so passionate about letting others know the many great evils that are happening around the world. We want them to feel burdened to help too. When we get enough people political active, then we can change the world for the better. Then activism can have bigger results.

That’s the kind of change we want to see come about. We want to see wars stopped for when wars stop, less people die. Especially so for unjust wars like the one the U.S. is carrying out against Afghanistan.

Are these changes impossible? Is it wrong for Christians to expect and aim for such changes? Definitely not.

Sure, we can’t change the hearts of man as dramatically as the Spirit can. The Bible describes that dramatic change a “born again” experience. We can’t do that. But we can do other things. Not only can we do other things to influence people for the better, we are CALLED to do such good things. If we have a heart for the poor and oppressed, we WILL do something to help. If we don’t, then we won’t be bothered. And if Christians can’t be bothered, then it’s a sad reflection of their faith.

So I work for change of bite-sized proportions. But I am under no illusion a revolution will occur which will usher in paradise. In this sense I may not be a Socialist or Marxist. But just because a revolution is not my long term goal doesn’t mean I can’t partake in activism now. I can and I should because I seek to see short term change.

Put it this way, if not for those who protested in the streets during the 60s and 70s in the States, thousands more lives would be killed in Vietnam. And those lives would not have the chance to hear the gospel and live.

I’m into politics and activism for change at least in the short run. True and lasting change will not happen on this earth. That will only happen when God renews this earth. That I thoroughly affirm and believe. But that doesn’t stop me from seeking change on this current earth. And that doesn’t make me a “short-sighted” Christian if I work for change here. I believe that makes me a compassionate Christian who has the heart of God. I believe God would want us to work for change – even if it meant being in politics and confronting the government on its evilness.

A Christian website (Walking-Wounded.Net) put it nicely when it said:

How about when non-Christians are suffering in some way? Well, we should love all people. Our neighbour is whoever we find who is in need. Even though we do not come across starving people in the Western world, we can do something to help them by giving to charities. It is also very productive and important for us to campaign for more justice for poor countries, for example, by campaigning for the cancellation of third world debt…Writing letters of complaint to governments and other bodies of authority can be very effective. It makes them realise that people are aware of that issue of oppression or injustice, exposing them on the international stage, and often bringing political pressure on them. We can support campaigns in various ways – by sending money to Christian charities, writing campaign letters, or changing the way that we shop and spend. An example of a campaign issue to write to your national government about might be the issue of creating greater economic justice and opportunity for Third World countries. In several countries (for example the UK), members of government have responded positively to sustained campaigns about issues related to global economic justice.

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