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Categorized | Church Connection

Responsible freedom

Rev. Bill Johnson

Cedar Springs United Methodist

140 S. Main St.

Cedar Springs, MI  49319

 

In the tradition of my church, there is a vital combination between personal faith and social witness. Methodist founder John Wesley was among the leaders of social reform in England during an age when living conditions in neighbor France led to massive revolt among the common people. Historians believe that the leadership of Wesley helped avoid a similar revolution in England because he addressed the conscience of his country’s government and strived for political change. 

With the mid-term election behind us now, this is a good time to pause and reflect on the relationship between faith and politics. Our Judeo-Christian heritage speaks to this. Regardless of political leanings, serious religious people are called to a higher loyalty. We believe that our job is to find God’s word in our culture, and align our words and actions with God’s eternal truths. The Old Testament prophets are our model, as they spoke for God in their day…the shepherd Amos marched from his fields in Tekoa to Jerusalem with a vision of a wall and a plumb line hanging beside it. God’s desire was the straight plumb line, and the wall was crooked. “Seek the Lord and live…you that turn justice to wormwood and bring righteousness to the ground.” Amos didn’t win favor with Kings when he spoke for God with those words, but they were words of truth. 

But here’s the thing: In this super-charged political year, it is tempting to believe that one candidate or another has God on their side. The reality is that God has no “side,” but compassion, truth and justice. God’s bias is with equality for all people, no matter what their political ties. Justice and peace are not the possession of any human; they are signs of God’s reign. Without them, God is grieved. With them, human action has painted a picture of the Kingdom realized.  

We can be grateful that we live in a nation that gives power to the common people. We must believe we can make a difference, or we will not achieve the equality our founders saw in establishing our union. Whether our political leanings draw us toward the right, the left or the middle is not as critical as a commitment to sharing responsibility for preserving the rights of all people. People of every faith are obligated to look for God at work in the world, and then speak and act as those who believe God can actually influence human history. Like Amos our job is to announce our understanding of God’s word, and vote our conscience. When we have done that, we have been faithful to our obligation to practice responsible freedom. If you voted this year, you did your part. 

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