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Christians Share a Bond Above Politics -What Living Abroad Taught Me About Christianity and Politics: Part 4

March 18, 2016

ICPIn Part One of this article series, I explained the first way my Christian political opinion “shifted” while living abroad in the Czech Republic for three years: Living abroad opened my eyes to the moral problem of political corruption. In Part Two, I shared that living abroad brought a teacher into my life who explained the deep impact of post-modernism on government. In Part Three, I related stories from my time abroad that taught me the spiritual and political dangers of extreme nationalism. In Part Four, I will share the last shift, and the lesson I learned which ties these points together.

Shift #4: Living abroad showed me that Christians share a bond, independent of political views, in the Lord Jesus Christ.

My first Sunday attending an international church in Prague, an elder preached. It was an excellent sermon, although regretfully I don’t remember the passage or topic. Yet I do remember that it was biblical and gospel-centered, which are two hallmarks of evangelicalism. When I befriended this European on Facebook, I was confused by his profile which stated his political views were liberal. This forced me into open-mindedness. I volunteered under him in youth ministry the following year and continued to find his theology to be robust. He was clearly a solid evangelical who was also politically liberal.

Throughout my three years in Prague, I continued to meet European Christians who were committed to the Bible and its Gospel, and yet had diverse political opinions. I realized political conservatism and Christianity overlap, but are not interchangeable. Scottish writer David Robertson thinks similarly. On his blog The Wee Flea, he shared the following story:

It was to say the least, an interesting prayer meeting. The former missionary from Northern Ireland stood up and prayed fervently that the Lord would deliver us from the evils of homosexuality, abortion, nationalism and socialism.   Afterwards when I was speaking to him, I called over three of my elders. “Donald, what’s your politics?” “Oh, I’m a true blue Tory.” My missionary friend nodded approvingly. “What about you Angus?” “I can’t stand the Tories, I’m a nationalist through and through.” “And you Ross?” “I’m a socialist.”   The look on my friend’s face was priceless…. “But, but…these are good and godly men.” “Indeed they are,” I told him, “And you will never pray in this prayer meeting again using political criteria rather than biblical.”

Need another opinion from someone a little more “close to home?”  Timothy Keller, a minister in the Presbyterian Church of America and writer of The Reason for God, has said, “I really don’t think a party can capture Christianity…If the Christian faith gets too identified with a party, it reduces Christianity to a political position…When I read my Bible I see a breadth, a spectrum of concerns, and I don’t see one party cornering the market on them.”

It is not that political opinion should not matter to Christians, or that we can’t make inferences from Scripture leading us to certain political views. It is that there are certain essential truths in the Gospel – clearly emphasized as God’s central mission in the Bible– which bind us together above politics. I experienced this unity with my Christian brothers and sisters in Prague. I should have known this already- I grew up in a diverse church.  But it wasn’t until Prague that God really hammered it home for me. Despite differing political views, denominational backgrounds, and nationalities, together in the Lord Jesus Christ we learned from God’s Word, we prayed, we repented of sin, we fed the homeless, we bore witness of His great love to Czechs and expatriates, and we worshiped Him.

***

Overall, living abroad taught me that my allegiance is not to any party, nation or movement in particular, but to Jesus Christ. I may be part of a political party for the sake of voting strategy, but the terms Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal don’t mean much to me. I will always be American and proud to be one, but the United States is not my ultimate home. I am seeking Truth, and Truth does not fit neatly inside any man-made label. Truth sets you free.

 

Picture credit: Laurie Barnes.  Our Prague church 🙂

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One Comment leave one →
  1. ewbsuffern permalink
    March 19, 2016 12:02 pm

    Thank you for this series Kate! I was challenged by your thoughts. What is especially remarkable to me is how you brought FOUR well written essays to your readers….right in a row, on different themes, all in the one world of Christianity and politics. With regard to this last essay, I had the same experience when encountering the Christians in the Evangelical Christian Union at the University of East Anglia. Opened my eyes alright!

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