Andy Flannagan on living what we believe

Andy Flannagan
Andy Flannagan

If you're a regular reader, you will know by now that I believe it is incredibly important for Christians to be involved in political parties. The more time I spend around politics, the more I believe this to be true. Just this week, I have seen the impact of Christians becoming involved at the highest levels, bringing better understanding of all the incredible work the church is doing around the UK. I also witnessed the power of the Christian Socialist Movement's work as a bridge between the church and politics. We set up an event in London at Parliament where 55 church leaders from all over London came together to meet Ken Livingstone and his running mate for London mayor, Val Shawcross. It was an amazing event, as leader after leader shared the encouragements and challenges of their work. I sat there incredibly proud to be a member of this entity called the church. Hearts and minds of politicians were touched by incredible stories of young people finding purpose, debt-ridden families being turned around, and folks finding employment when no-one had previously believed in them.

The church leaders were also impressed by Ken and Val. They picked up on their strong moral fibre and passion for the city of London. As various issues came up, they listened attentively and replied empathetically. I think both sides were surprised by the intelligence and detail of the debate. Connections were made and relationships were built.

So I believe in politics, but it has limits. I don't think political parties alone can change a country. Even if you have a perfect set of policies which are exactly what the nation needs, history shows that this is not what brings long-term change to a country. Movements change a country. A movement is a body of people who don't just think a certain thing nor have a certain policy, but do something about it, fleshing out their beliefs through practical service. More specifically, people moved by God change a country. I'm not just talking about what people are paid to organise or control as Government ministers, I'm talking about invisible acts of service in local communities that demonstrate we mean what we say. Things that demonstrate our lifestyle matches our policies. If we advocate policies calling for better environmental regulations, are we fleshing that out in the way our household operates? If we believe in supporting local economies rather than investing all our money in stocks and shares without checking on the ethics of the companies, do we use our local credit union?

You see it is much easier to just get stuck in one world. It is much easier to become a hero and gain status in one world. The harder thing is to straddle two worlds. Inevitably it can be uncomfortable. Sadly many people get lost in the world of politics, and many people get lost in the world of the church, never allowing the two worlds to collide, when there is so much fruit to be gleaned from the interaction.

So what are you part of? It's much easier to be signed up to a certain way of thinking, satisfied that you are right, but never having to get off the couch to do anything about it. The abolitionists didn't just campaign for the end to the transatlantic slave trade. They actively supported those who were victims of it. They didn't confine all their action to just the church, or just politics. Around the country today it is wonderful to see Christians stepping up. These folks don't just have a certain opinion on economics, local debt, abortion, or trafficking, but are doing something about it. Victims are being helped. Lives are being changed bottom-up and top-down.

That is what draws other people in. As John Wesley may have said, 'Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.' That is how movements begin. All the postcards or emails in the world can't sustain a movement. Love in action does, and we shouldn't be surprised about that, should we? We follow a God who didn't just work on legislation, but fleshed it out in the person of Jesus, who was the fulfilment of all the law and the prophets.

So are you moving? Or just happy to be right? Pray and seek where God would have you move, and you never know where the movement may go..... CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.