“The Story God is Telling…”

Yesterday I read an interview  in Leadership Journal – an interview for which I was grateful. The woman interviewed is Amy Black, a political science professor at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. She has recently written a book called Honoring God in Red or Blue: Approaching Politics with Humility, Grace, and Reason. 

Word is that several publishers refused the book – what sane company wants humility and grace when pride, animosity, and disfavor sell so well?

The posted piece is short and well worth your time, but what shouted to me from the page was this: “If someone takes a Bible passage and directs it to a specific public policy and says, ‘See, God says this is right, or God says this is wrong,’ I don’t think that’s a proper use of Holy Scripture. I think a proper use of the Bible is to ask, ‘What does this teach us about God? How does he act in the world? What matters to him?’ In other words, the pastor should be equipping congregants to read the Bible and to understand the story God is telling.” 

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United St...

And we have journeyed far from this idea. Journeyed far from making our first priority to understand the story God is telling, to proclaim the story God is telling. Instead, Christians on both sides of the aisle have made it a priority to convince people they should vote a certain way.

Because the story God is telling is not about a country. It is not the story of red and blue, of donkey and elephant, of Romney or Obama. It is not an American story. The story God is telling is a worldwide story of people and redemption. The story God is telling is far bigger than elections and opinions – it is a story that goes from Pakistan to Tasmania; from Iraq to Germany; from Russia to the Maldives; from Senegal to the United States; from North Pole to South Pole and all places between.

And on election day, no matter what the outcome, God’s story is still being written.  

There are many Christians whose politics I disagree with, many who I want to challenge, but if I don’t do it with grace, with humility, with reason, then I am forgetting the Story. I am forgetting that God’s heart is for people and redemption, not for a culturally based political process.

If my faith is dependent on the results of an American election than I am seriously misguided.

In closing, when asked if she had “any cautions for Christians hoping to change the culture through politics”, Dr. Black said this:

“We should be fully engaged in the political process. At the same time we must remember that government is by definition imperfect, because it is an institution made up of sinners. And sinners do sinful things. Government is certainly capable of achieving good things. And we have a wonderful, resilient form of government. But if we start to look at our government to accomplish what only God can, then we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. I think sometimes people get this attitude like, Well, God’s on my side, therefore everything I fight for is right. But even when we take principles from God and apply them to the political process, we’re still applying them in our broken, fallen way.”

Amen and Amen!

15 thoughts on ““The Story God is Telling…”

  1. Thanks for this very sane blog! When we came back to live in the U.S. the confusion many Christians seem to have of the Kingdom of God and America was rather shocking. I also was saddened recently when I heard a preacher basically tells his congregation how to vote rather than equip his congregation to really think through the issues and vote from their own convictions.

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    1. Thank you for reading! I realized recently that this is only the 4th election I’ve lived through in this country. The global perspective is a gift. God’s story is a story of sanity in an increasingly insane world. I share your sadness for using the pulpit to “tell” rather than exhort toward holiness and Godliness. Thanks again for reading, more so for commenting.

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  2. I wonder if this is the sort of idea that is easier for those of us who have spent significant time in another culture (or cultures) can appreciate more easily? During the 30 years I spent in the US I was often appalled at the attitude of Christians to each other in the political process (I arrived there during the election won by Jimmy Carter, surely one of the most Christian presidents the country has ever had, who was being totally demonized by the opposition).

    I spent some time a month or so ago debating just this issue on a Christian discussion board when many were ranting about Obama on the gay marriage issue. The point that a few of us tried to make was that one can believe that Obama is wrong on that issue without making him into an agent of the devil. England isn’t immune to this kind of politics, but I am glad that it rarely ever becomes a question of the faith of the candidate, but more about their ideas and, perhaps, their trustworthiness.

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    1. I think you bring up a good point. I know I have been massively affected by not growing up in this country. I’ve only really gone through 3 elections (this will be my 4th) I also find the demonizing of candidates troubling. Your words “one can believe Obama is wrong on that (an) issue without making him into an agent of the devil” are important words. You can disagree with one’s politics without making everything an adhominem attack. And unfortunately the attacks extend to friends and family who disagree. Thanks for your perspective. One of the things I want Communicating Across boundaries to be is a place of perspectives and you have added to that with this comment.

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  3. And,in the end, all of history is HIS story.

    I think of an amusing and doubtless apochryphal story from WW1 where the German soldiers in the trenches held up a banner with the words “Gott mit uns”, and then there appeared from the opposing trenches a banner with the words “Got mittens too!”

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  4. Oh Marilyn…this is so good and true! Don’t you wish we could invite Ms Black out for drinks and just sit and learn from her….??? I loved how you interacted with the article about her. “God’s story is still being written!”

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    1. I would love to have a drink with her – yes! I want to buy the book now and wish I had learned of it much earlier in this election process. Humility, grace, and reason….words we no longer have definitions for.

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