Jim Wallis, longtime leader of the progressive evangelical organization Sojourners, is fond of saying that faith is always personal, but never private. Faith ought to deeply impact us on the personal level, but, as Wallis’ saying goes, personal doesn’t mean private. Faith, by its nature, affects the kinds of relationships we form and with whom we form them. Wallis has persistently encouraged folks in the evangelical world to move beyond a “Me and God” mentality, finding ways to live out faith convictions for the common good.
I’ve recently been pondering whether an additional saying is needed. It might go something like this: faith is political but not partisan. The Torah repeatedly speaks of fair treatment of workers, along with caring for the orphan, the widow, and the immigrant. The Hebrew prophets decry the concentration of wealth and defend the cause of the poor. Jesus continues in this tradition. Faith is not merely political, but living out our faith has political implications. Giving primary allegiance to kin-dom values can put us in conflict with cultural norms and policies.
So here’s part of the trick these days: How do we as a congregation live out a prophetic witness without falling into the deeply worn cultural rut of partisan politics? How do we name present injustices while seeing the deeper historical patterns that preceded this current administration? How might our collective worship raise our spirits and consciousness toward the one Source of Life without assuming we all think and pray the same way? And how do we not let righteous anger blind us to our own hypocrisies and failures?
This requires deep soul work, and we don’t have a lot of models right now for how to do it well. I’m thinking that part of our calling as a congregation is living out a faith that is…
prayerful and personal…but not private,
prophetic and p0litical…but not partisan.
Yours in alliteration,