NB - This post contains some thought provoking ideas with which many of you will disagree. I don't mind people commenting anonymously but please be respectful.
I have just finished reading Seven Ways to Change the World: Reviving Faith and Politics by Jim Ellis.
Ellis describes himself as an evangelical Christian (but not a fundamentalist) and is concerned with the way in which the 'religious right' has taken over American politics - making, he feels, the only two topics of political thought to be abortion and homosexuality.
He feels, as I do, that when Christians engage in political thought/decisions the scope of that engagement should be broader. He quotes from Old Testament prophets Micah and Amos, and from Jesus Himself, about God's concern for the poor and oppressed. He asks that Christians (and other interested people such as 'spiritual seekers' keep the government honest by not only private piety but by engagement with the issues.
The issues, Ellis feels, are third world poverty, racism, the environment, peaceful negotiations instead of war and using war only as a last resort, having loving family and community relationships, welfare within the state (especially for young mothers so that they will not have abortions) and keeping leaders (including church leaders) accountable to their supporters. ]
He stresses that many great Evangelical arrivals have occurred when faith became 'life changing' and 'policy changing'. He stresses that we are in an age where the word 'Christian' stands for being personally pious and out of touch at best and hypocritical at worst. However the name 'Jesus', for most people, conjures up images of compassion, justice, mercy and forgiveness. He says, obviously, that this is a huge problem.
Before launching into my opinions I would like to publicly thank my Christian brothers and sisters who stood by me during my lengthy mental illness and who were exceedingly charitable. I know many of you may question my opinions in this piece but this does not mean that I am unthankful for your support. It simply means that my mind is now clear enough to have opinions - and I believe this is something to really thank God for!
Now - for the opinions - I pretty much agree with Wallis wholeheartedly. I think Christians should not only support evangelism and charity (which are important) but we should think about and pray for a less broken world. After we have gone to God in this way it is time for us to make a decision about how we will intervene in this broken world.
Interventions can be personal (like recycling) or public (giving information about third world issues etc) or wholistic (hey let's get involved at every level!) I think the wholistic way is the best. Of course we all have our 'pet' issues but I don't think God does - every issue is important to Him and we have to, at least, have thought about them enough to give answers to the sceptic or seeker who wants to know our position on third world poverty, global warming and racism.
For my part these are the things I'd like to do - do some Volunteer work for a charity like Salvos or Vinnies(using my office skills), stop thinking bad things in my head about disadvantaged people, pray for those I can't practically help, write to politicians to keep them accountable and, after I have been stable for at least five years, volunteer as a secretary/business advisor in a remote Aboriginal community.
Anyway - if this post has inspired you or you really disagree with it please let me know. Your comments are valuable to me.
God Bless you all