It was an election day yesterday. I had the opportunity to put my kiss* on a piece of paper to declare my democratic love for a local council candidate and some candidates for the European Parliament.
I was surprised when I was handed the ballot paper for the European Parliament to see just how long it was. They almost had to give it to me as a scroll! Alongside the traditional mainstream parties were some new parties, some single issue parties, some extremist parties, and some parties I have never heard of before. We’ll have to wait until Sunday before we find out who has won as the rest of Europe is still voting in their own European Parliamentary elections.
But based on the local election results so far there is an expectation that the UK Independence Party (UKIP) will have done well. I am not going to tell you exactly who received my electoral love* (it was one of the older established parties) but the long list got me wondering. And the success of UKIP in local elections crystallised my wondering into pondering:
Is it just me, or do you see the irony of a party that was founded to get the UK out of Europe sending candidates to participate in the European Parliament – the very organ of democracy they want us to leave? How can you be engaged in the EU if you don’t want to be a part of it?
And that’s when it hit me. That’s just like the way that some Christians see ‘the world’. They see it as inherently evil: to be shunned, avoided, and only engaged with at arm’s length. They see it as something to come out of and withdraw from. They see it as something that will tarnish them.
But that’s not what I see Jesus doing when I read the gospels. In fact, I see him doing exactly the opposite. He throws himself in headfirst. He engages with and confronts evil. He seeks to undermine and destroy injustice. He affirms the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalised. He criticises the religious people who want to withdraw. He goes all out to affirm (as Genesis 1 does) that God’s world is inherently good. Yes, it is no longer as he intended it. Yes we can see evil things happening and evil people at large. But God’s idea, embodied in Jesus, is to redeem and renew his world not to abandon it.
Jesus came into the world not to bring us out of it but to shake it all about so it could be more like God planned it to be, and one day that work will be complete. He asks us to get involved in that process today. What might that look like?
Be blessed, be a blessing