I stumbled upon this article by Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International recently and was surprised, blessed, and humbled to realize that I am not the only Christian in American who recognizes the incongruity of "christian politics." This idea is, in fact everywhere if we are looking for it.
This article appeared in the Fall 2008 edition of Compassion Magazine:
During this presidential election season, Americans are once again being sliced and diced by political analysts into distinctly defined groups the candidates can target in order to squeeze out every possible vote. I find the process somewhat fascinating...until they dissect the categories in which I belong.Christians are one such scrutinized segment of our society, including evangelicals --part of the "values voters" bloc who share kindred concerns. Pollsters hae traditionally pigeonholed us as concerned only about abortion and gay marriage. The media perpetuate the sound-bite stereotypes and peg evangelicals as "anti-this" and "anti-that"; we seem to be known primarily for what we are against. Like other groups similarly oversimplified, we have been put in a box and labelled.But this year's voters include the next generation of evangelicals, and current research findings are blowing the lid off that box. yes, young evangelical Christians to care deeply about moral issues, but within the context of equally important broader issues, such as social justice, care for our planet, and compassionate concern for the poor...Younger Christians don't wrestle with the either/or of ministering to body and soul but rather embrace the both/and, as Jesus did. They are not willing to let stand the narrow, negative labels by which others would define them but instead are creating a new definition as Christians whose faith naturally compels them to positively and personally engage in our suffering world....Jesus also said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another," (John 13:35). The world is taking notice --not of what we are against, but what we are for: God's Word lived out in word and deed. That's a label I am happy to wear.
While I desperately try to smother the pride welling up in me as one of the "next generation of evangelicals" who is changing the profile of contemporary Christianity to one more philanthropically driven than politically driven, I remember that my generation as a whole has several less complimentary stereotypes. And while it is true that the newest generation of voters do frequently identify themselves by their causes (thank-you, Facebook), our motives can be somewhat less than ingenuous. As I find myself riding the same wave as Brangelina and Bono, I must admit that it has become trendy to do good.
But whether by a generous spirit, a moral obligation, the power of God, or peer pressure, good is being done and this is a good thing and it is encouraging.