I am by nature and nurture a political junkie. Political Science is one of my undergraduate degrees from the University of Kansas (that place best known for excellence in basketball and dismality in football!). One of the highlights of pursuing that degree was finagling my way into a two-semester PhD Constitutional Law Seminar in the days following Watergate during my junior year. I believe deeply in our Constitution as the foundation of our Democratic Republic and in the rule of law. However, I am also by grace and conviction a disciple of Jesus Christ who fervently believes that Jesus is Lord and Savior of all creation, and in the reality of the Kingdom of God that is already fully here and yet to come in its fullness. So how do I bring the two together – as a Christian and a Bishop?
First, I believe those involved in the political sphere who love Jesus should do everything they can to influence the writing of laws and policy that reflect the true heart of living the Jesus’ Way. Second, I do not believe – and never will – that those in the political sphere should try to impose the Jesus’ Way of living through laws that resemble some Christian equivalent of the worst misrepresentation of ‘Sharia Law’ because I believe enough in the reality of original sin that I can never trust human beings (whether of the left or the right ideologically) to not devolve into self-interest, hatred and a ‘ends justify the means’ attitude. Third, I believe it is the calling of all Jesus’ followers to grow the Kingdom by getting on board with what God is already doing, and to make disciples of Jesus Christ who are transformed from the inside-out and then spend a lifetime planting Kingdom seeds.
My father once said after detailing his latest list of medical maladies, “Gary, getting old ain’t for sissies.” I think the same thing is true for those of us who are Christians trying to live both as responsible disciples and responsible citizens. Thankfully, we don’t have to do it on our own for one very important reason. God is still God, Jesus is still Lord and the Holy Spirit is still at work.