Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

God Calls Us to Advocate for Social Change by “Appealing to Caesar” – Part VII

A guest post by Ben Dudley
If you haven’t read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V or Part VI yet, check those out first.

Let us go back to the coffee shop in Portland, Oregon.  The current trend in the local gathering places and something that I perceive to be a trend amongst evangelical Christians is fighting for social change.  Bringing an end to the injustices of this world is both significant and a kingdom act.  The question I must ask is how far do we take this appeal?

People I interact with are always seeking to discover how to participate in God’s mission.  I feel confident in suggesting that they appeal to the government on behalf of the poor, marginalized and abused people in the world.  I also believe that it is of huge significance for Christians to appeal to government on behalf of creation and the environment.   But how far do we take this appeal?  Is writing letters to Congress and the President far enough?  Discussing politics at church is looked down upon culturally.  We must begin a dialogue within our congregations to help them see that politics and faith are not mutually exclusive.  First, we must remind them that all earthly power comes from God and is a part of God’s mission for us to appeal to the government. Second, we must remind them they are accountable for their actions.

“The struggle is against the powers incarnated in very concrete forms, in institutions, in governments, in coercive bodies, and in ideologies. Christians are to live out the full reality of what it means to belong to the body of Christ.  To do so demands an encounter with the structures of political power.  It necessitates a stance of courageous resistance to those societal patterns and prejudice that discriminate via class, race, sex, and age.  It also involves encouraging the healing of all relationships, whether psychological, economic, social, or political.”  (Glasser and Engen 2003: 341)

Some very practical ways that we can begin to help teach the importance of appealing to government is through open dialogue.  We can provide a forum within the conversations of our community for people to discuss both faith and politics.  When there is an election looming over the country, this provides for an easy entry point into the conversation. Being a part of a country that some consider to be the closest thing to the Roman Empire, we are forced to ask many difficult questions regarding war, economics, trade, and the environment.  Another question the leadership of the church must address is: are we willing to allow these conversations to influence not only our thoughts but also our actions?  It is easy to discuss the need to appeal to Caesar; it is much more difficult to act upon it. The conclusion is next.

Ben Dudley was born and raised in Texas, though he has always felt like he belonged on the West Coast. He and his wife now reside in Portland, Oregon. Ben is a graduate of Baylor University in 1999 with a Church Recreation and Leisure Services Degree, and is currently two years into a Master of Arts in Global Leadership Degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has served as a pastor in two different churches prior to moving to Portland where he and his wife, along with a core team of people are planting a church. Ben also works with CrossTraining-US where he serves as a chaplain to professional soccer players in Portland. He considers himself a very lucky man to be married to his beautiful wife Jamie, who is his best friend and partner in ministry. They both love to travel, eat good food and spend time with friends and family.

4 Responses to God Calls Us to Advocate for Social Change by “Appealing to Caesar” – Part VII

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