Reconciling Faith, Social Action & Politics

“You Americans, God created you in His image and you’ve decided to return the favour.”
-George Bernard Shaw

I find that an incredibly poignant observation by Shaw. It’s something I’ve come into contact with while travelling abroad, in my education and with the friends I meet in my work in Calgary. Is God White, Middle-Class, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant? Or is there something here that I have missed my whole life?

If God isn’t in fact a WASP, and middle class on top of that, what are the implications then for me, a WASP, if my God is actually bigger than race, ethnicity, language and culture and is represented in everyone He created, regardless of race and ethnicity and where people were lucky enough to be born?

If God isn’t a WASP, then it shouldn’t matter if I vote Liberal or Conservative, because the very God who laid on my heart to vote one end of the spectrum might very easily have laid on someone else’s heart to vote the opposite. If God isn’t white, middle class and Canadian, then what is he?

“Before Abraham was, I Am,” Jesus said in John 8:58…he sets himself outside the context of space and time and humanity as one with God. He set the stars in motion and isn’t “of this world.” (Jn. 8:22-24). While the Old Testament was writhe with law and legalisms as a means of bridging the unfathomable gap between humanity and God, Jesus broke tore down the curtain that separated us from God’s most holy place that we can know the Father. As Jesus died on the cross and rose again, he enabled people who call on His name to inherit His kingdom not in the future, but in the here and now. We are called daughters and sons of God. And we fit into this beautiful thing called the body of Christ.

And that means that people don’t have to look like, talk like, or act North American to be a follower of Jesus.

“There is no Jew or Greek. There is no slave or free person. There is no male or female. Because you belong to Christ Jesus, you are all one. (Gal. 3:28, New International Reader’s Version).

Perhaps sometimes its easier to substitute pious legalisms for the high requirements of God – I know in my own life that has been the case. “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke…” those are easier to do than to submit my will to that of Christ in my life. It’s easier to try to force people to do things my way than allow the Kingdom of God begin within me as a very, tiny mustard seed of faith. It’s easier to yell at people and say they are immoral and doing things wrong than it is to just listen.

“We can’t change the world by coercion, or Jesus would have come as a Caesar,” Tony Campolo said in his sermon at Breakforth over the weekend. And yet, coercion is so much easier than the dirty work it takes to love our enemies.

While attending Breakforth, one of the largest Christian conferences in Canada this past weekend, I came across some new Bible trivia…Apparently the word “Justice” appears almost as many times in the New Testament as the word “Love” and there are about 2,000 verses in the Bible that relate to social justice.

I am an Evangelical Christian and the tradition I come from tends to emphasize individual transformation and de-emphasize social transformation. The Gospel of Jesus, however, involves both social justice and a personal transformation. God is a God of intimacy and of action.

Tony Campolo said in his sermon on Sunday morning that, “the fact that [Evangelicals] are all so safe indicates that something is wrong.”

Safety in faith. What does that mean? And what does stepping out onto the edge, like Peter stepped onto the water…what does it look like? What does a life saturated by the Holy Spirit of Jesus look like? What does it look like to devote life to the call of God, and to focus on my own sin, ignoring that of others and loving my enemies?

Campolo closed his sermon with this statement: “I am as conservative as the word of God and as liberal as the love of God.”

I guess that’s where I must leave this blog…because that is the place I am at. I desire my faith to be from the heart. I’m tired of my own pious legalisms and substituting minor rules and regulations for the high calling Christ has laid on my life.

I’m more than curious what others think about the challenges in reconciling faith, social action, and politics!


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