First Word: Leading the Charge
By Cameron Strang
September 16, 2008
Reprinted from the Sept./Oct. issue of RELEVANT
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Let's get this out of the way up front: I'm not a politically motivated person. Which is why I felt a tad out of place meeting with Barack Obama this summer. And talking to John McCain. And doing countless interviews about the faith and shifting political views of our generation.
Yet I have unwittingly found myself thrust into the political arena, a place where people are vehemently passionate about their ideologies and platforms. Itâ€™s an entire industry built around being right and proving your opponent wrong, and winning at any cost. Itâ€™s a continual power struggle andâ€”from my humble vantage pointâ€”seems a bit flawed.
Iâ€™m someone who tries to think independently and objectively, rather than simply follow what the pundits tell me to think. Because of that, Iâ€™ve realizedI cannot fully embrace either political party. Both sides of the aisle have some great ideas and goals. But both also have areas where they simply get it wrong.
I know the power of politics and the importance of the process in our world. But I also know that, historically, real, lasting change has started first at the grassroots level long before it was ever legislated. Cultural mindshifts influence Washington, not the other way around.
Many Christians traditionally have voted Republican because of their justifiable conviction to protect the lives of the unborn. Now, many younger Christians are voting Democrat because of their justifiable desire to see our nation, the most prosperous in the world, address issues of poverty, global aid and the environment.
The problem is, many Christians vote these convictions, but thatâ€™s largely where their personal involvement in the issues stops. Are the government leaders we vote for meant to do our job for us?If God has given you a heart for the poor, or to see a reduction in the number of abortions, or to promote peace, or to help the sick, or to stand for strong moral values, or to be a better steward of the environment, then your personal focus needs to be on thatâ€”whether or not the President shares your same values.
The Bible reminds us to pray for our leaders, but it also talks about praying for those who persecute us. Though I canâ€™t foresee any situation where this would be the case, what if one day every value Christians stand for, even religious freedom itself, was legislatively removed? Christians in China and many other parts of the world face this reality every day. Would it change us?
Dare I say, it might actually spur the Body of Christ here into greater action. Could it be that the loss of religious freedoms would ultimately be the best thing for American Christians because it would cause us to stand on our own feet rather than relying on the government to legislate our faith and values for us?
Iâ€™ve heard that only 5 percent of people who attend church regularly actually serve in any way. Iâ€™ve read that if every Christian in America actually tithed 10 percent of their income, we would have enough financial resources to wipe out global poverty.
Thereâ€™s more power lying dormant in pews around the nation than any government could hope to provide, and thatâ€™s where our focus should be.
Many Christians want to overturn Roe v. Wade, but I donâ€™t hear nearly as many leading the charge on a national adoption movement. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, where are all of those babies going to end up? Christians should be focused on personal action regardless of legislation, not just waiting for the right number of Supreme Court justices to come along.
Iâ€™m not saying donâ€™t vote. Do. Vote your convictions and let your voice be heardâ€”thatâ€™s one of the perks of living in a democracy. But donâ€™t let politics breed division, or make you see people in a different light.
If you have a passion for an issue, rather than judging someone who doesnâ€™t share that passion or viewpoint, just go do something about it. Give your life to it. Be the change you want to see.
We need to pray for our leaders and our country, but always remember that our leaders and country do not define us. We are the generation that will shape the direction culture, government and social action will take in the next 50 years. Itâ€™s not up to Washington, itâ€™s up to usâ€”and I say itâ€™s time we step up and lead the charge.
But that means with our lives, our finances and our actions every day. Not just Nov. 4.