This is a skeleton of a bible overview for helping other Christians in the area of socio-political involvement. It covers a lot of ground so when personal examples are added and more contemporary examples are given [often with video clip(s)] I reckon it’s achievable in 30 minutes. Use as you wish, comment as you see fit.
What does the Bible have to say about politics? [an overview]
Introduction: As Christians we have no hesitation talking about love but we find it more complicated to talk about justice. Sometimes, we fail to see the link.
Dr Cornell West: ‘Justice is what love looks like in public’
Establishing our human dignity
Human dignity is like a golden thread that runs through our approach to influencing public policy. Whether the youngest or the oldest, whether the most able or the most incapacitated, whether the richest or the poorest our human dignity should be cherished, celebrated, protected and nourished.
Examine Genesis 1: 26-28
Making three points
- We are God’s image bearers- we represent Him on Earth
- We are created in His image to be relational
- We are given stewardship responsibilities
Draw in Genesis 2:15-25 to emphasise the relational requirements implied by the two sexes working together
Reflections on Genesis 3
Because of our desire for independent living several consequences follow:
- Our relationship with God is fractured
- Our relationship with one another has become more complicated
- Our relationship with ourselves is diminished
- Our relationship with the rest of creation is demanding
A brief sample of OT examples here can be useful e.g. Jehoshaphat, Nehemiah, Daniel
The legitimate place of government in the NT- Jesus and the paying of taxes. Some distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world is necessary. The bringing in of the kingdom is not a government’s responsibility- that’s the mandate of the church.
Limiting the effects of a fallen world
Romans 13:1-7 helps us to see the relationship between God and state.
The state is established by God (remarkable given the growing hostility between the Roman state and the Christian minority)
- The state is there to do you good
- The state has responsibilities to ensure law and order (limiting the effects of living in a fallen world)
- Christians should be obedient citizens
- Christians should pray for their leaders
The big unanswered question: What happens when the state fails to live up to its requirements? Campaigning is the prophetic witness of the church.
This is a prophetic role, calling the nation’s leaders to minimise the effects of living in a fallen, dysfunctional world. And to allow us the freedom to point to a better way.
Examples: Wilberforce, Jubilee Campaign, Australian family centres for relationship breakdown
We began by discussing justice and love. Justice is what love looks like in public. We don’t expect government to preach about Jesus- that’s the church’s job- we can encourage the government to protect our common bond, our human dignity.