"Freedom and democracy are dreams you never give up.”
Those are the words of Aung San Suu Kyi, a political activist in Burma who was imprisoned. Her crime? Simply wanting a system where she could have her say in the running of her country. This crazy thing called democracy is something that we take for granted. Many of us hear the words of Russell Brand and think to ourselves ‘what's the point? My voice counts for nothing’. So therefore, this thing that people put their life on the line for becomes something we have the choice to be apathetic about.
What if we saw democracy as, in fact, a gift? For most it seems like the gift we get at Christmas that isn't what we asked for or that doesn't come with an instruction manual so we don’t know how to use it. So it sits there in a hypothetical box under our bed, collecting metaphorical dust. What if, however, this gift is actually a gift from the Father for us to be able to make positive change in our country? What if part of our commission and calling to our world meant getting involved in the political sphere as active participants?
The other week I was invited to attend a reception at the Houses of Parliament. As I stood in Westminster Hall, the seat of power for the country, I prayed that God’s kingdom would come in all its fullness. Half of me expected an angel to appear and lead everyone to faith, but that didn't happen unfortunately - maybe another time! It is true that our ‘prayers can go where we cannot’ but so often we feel our level of involvement stops there when we come to the topic of politics.
Yet when we turn our eyes to Christ we realise that there is this explosive thing called the incarnation - Christ entered the entirety of the human condition; fully human and fully divine. How can we stand on the sidelines when we follow a God that became fully involved in his world? A God that shook the status quo and held people to account on how they treated people.
Part of Christ’s call to enter from the sidelines into the game extends to politics as well. Now i’m not saying that we should all be politicians running for elections because politics is a machine with many different inputs. Registering to vote and turning up on polling day is the first cog in the machine that leads to social change. However, what voting gives us is an ability to hold our elected officials to account as voting members of their constituencies on why they do what they do. We can lobby on issues to do with the poor, human trafficking or education - on issues that are close to our hearts as followers of Jesus.
Will we be people that settle with the status quo and let this election thing roll on by? Or will we be a people that immerse ourselves in our world with Christ’s concern and become a community that rises up to make our voices heard? And that uses this gift that has been given to us that others fight to have? That choice is yours.
NB: Registering to vote closes on the 20th April to allow time for local councils to process applications. Register to vote and find out more here: About my vote.