Welcome to the Kings and Presidents blog tour. I am so happy to be part of sharing this wonderful message. Since you all know I love reading and sharing book recommendations, being part of this book tour is awesome for me!
So it is my pleasure to share this guest post by Shawna Songer Gaines:
Kings and Presidents:
Two things you shouldn’t talk about in polite company: politics and religion. For the most part, Christians either join the ranks of the downright rude and mud sling with the best of them, or they keep silent and avoid the topic all together, keeping conversation nice and polite.
I never thought I would write a book about politics! But as my husband (and co-pastor) and I led our congregation through the election season of 2012, we were confronted with the fact that there is no way to NOT be political. Sure, you can bite your tongue and claim to have “no comment” when hot topics come up. But we have to live with people and in communities and what happens to those people in our communities, big and small, matters. Those people and those communities matter to God! But how do we have these conversations in a way that isn’t rude or blandly polite? How do we have political conversations with a Christian imagination?
Christians should have something to say about politics that builds up the people and communities we live in, and even the politicians who govern them, and not to tear them down. I think we have learned by now that even Christians disagree on this stuff and the ballot box proves it. That’s okay! The way we talk about politics, no matter what candidate we support or party we align with, can still have a distinctively Christian tone.
[bctt tweet=”Don’t shut God out of elections! Christians can talk #politics #KingsandPresidents @TimothyRGaines @Shawna_SG #AD”]
Here are a few tips for having political conversations this election season with a distinctively Christian imagination:
1. Realize there is something distinctive about Christianity. The Christian faith is larger than one particular political party or platform. Of course, Christianity will make claims upon our political lives – what we do with power and how we distribute resources. But it does so according to its own distinctive way, and that probably means that we will need to pay more careful attention to the way of Jesus than the way of a particular political party.
2. Ask more questions and give fewer answers. The trouble so many Christians run into when we talk with people who see politics differently is that we want to convince them before we hear them. If someone is willing to have a political conversation with you, that means they are part of the people in your community that politics is meant to care for. The person or people you are talking to is the reason politics matters to Christians! So for heaven’s sake, listen to what they have to say before you spout off your opinions.
3. Talk about things that matter to people other than you. We are, after all, the people who put others before ourselves. Our Lord did command us to love one another and tell us that love looks like laying down your life for a friend. Immigration reform or international relief funds might not be the first thing on your mind when you are looking at policies, but they make a world of difference to many of God’s children. And when you talk about these things, remember that they are issues that affect God’s children!
4. Be careful how you name people. When you are talking about politicians are you naming them? Naming them with labels that are hurtful and contrary to the name that God gives to all those who call on Jesus: sons and daughters. When you talk about people groups and communities both powerful and poor, are you assigning them labels that name them and make them less than full persons loved by God? Talk about people and people groups with the love and care that God has for them. It’s not your job to name them, that’s what God does and does very well.
5. Talk more about the Kingdom of God than the nations of the earth. Remember that God’s kingdom is so much bigger than our elections or borders. Your conversations ought to consider how decisions about people and communities might best capture a picture of the Kingdom of God –which is impossible to do through our political systems, but God gave us political systems
to reflect God’s kingdom! It’s part of our responsibility as Christians to call for these political systems to look more like the Kingdom of God.
6. Remember who is truly in power. We put so much emphasis on the office of President (seriously, do you even know the name of your local mayor?), as if the POTUS is the one who rules over us. The media is hyping up this election as though the future of the universe hangs on the person occupying the White House. But if we say that Christ is Lord, than Christ rules over us! There will come a day when Christ comes back to reign in final victory over all the kings of the earth, over all the people and communities in perfect harmony… but even today, we live under his power, no matter how the election turns out.
Don’t be afraid to get out there and have good political conversations! A Christian conversation about politics isn’t polite or rude. It’s Christlike. And that should give us something to talk about!
Want to read more about a Christian imagination in this season of election politics?
Read Kings and Presidents: Politics in the Kingdom of God, by Shawna Songer Gaines and Tim Gaines. Tim and Shawna Gaines used their time as co-pastors of Bakersfield First Church of the Nazarene to seek distinctly Christian approaches to pressing contemporary issues, and to apply those responses to faithful and creative ways in the local church setting. Tim now serves as assistant professor of religion at Trevecca Nazarene University. Shawna is a frequent speaker, author, and blogger. Her work can be accessed at shawnasongergaines.com
Thank you Shawna and Tim for including me on your King and Presidents blog tour! Be sure you grab your own copy of Kings and Presidents today!
*Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for sharing this guest post on my blog. The content within this guest post reflect the opinions of the article author only. Making Our Life Matter may not share stated views. As always, be respectful to the opinions of others, and be kind when commenting.