With the election looming a ghetto mentality is emerging
In the course of my work I travel the country meeting Christian leaders and individuals and with the election only weeks away, I am worried. There is at best uncertainty and at worst complete apathy. A widespread view that since we cannot make a difference, we shouldn't bother trying, is gaining ground. A ghetto mentality is in danger of emerging, a mentality that would see us focus solely on the business of saving souls but not bother engaging with politics and with parliaments and politicians.
Just because it is my passion to engage and work with politicians, that doesn't mean I'm not immune to temptations to give up. I face that struggle so many others also face on a daily basis. At a time where so many are disinterested in politics, we seem to have forgotten that positive, genuine change is possible. If we want to see a spiritually healthy country, we need to be talking with those who make our laws. To stop engaging or to abandon standing up for human dignity would be a tragedy. If we truly value life, we'll speak out when the Government gets it wrong, as it sometimes will.
All of this matters even more with an election now just weeks away. Whatever the outcome, the next parliamentary term will present challenges and struggles. The most immediate question I face then is how do I cast my vote? I've no idea! Given the changes that have taken place in society over the last few years, it is increasingly difficult to know who to give my vote to.
And I am not alone. I've met many Christians who feel the same. Many have engaged in the political process over the last decades by writing to their MPs on issues of concern, by trying to build relationships, yet have increasingly felt ignored and disregarded. Apathy is the seemingly inevitable consequence of the despair many feel at some of the changes that have taken place in society over the last decades. On issues such as marriage, the family and religious freedom we have lost so much ground that it can be hard to remain positive. But if we let it, despair can cripple our faith which ruins our joy and leads us into a cul-de-sac of hopelessness.
Instead we should remember that God's amazing command to His people everywhere in the creation mandate - to rule over the world with me and for me - still stands. What a privilege! It is true that these words were given in an agrarian culture, yet today I believe they apply to the institutions of our national life - Parliaments, the media, the stock exchange and Silicon Valley, "taking every thought captive for Christ".
As Christians we are seeking a spiritually healthy country and while issues such as the economy and immigration are important, "less sexy" issues also weigh heavily upon us. The freedom to practice and live out our faith in an increasingly individualistic and secular society has repercussions on issues of human dignity, the sanctity of life from its beginning to its natural end and what it means to be human amid technological and scientific advances. These issues need to be grappled with. This election is not just about economic prosperity, but about the very concept of human life and how we view and understand it.
It is true that the world will not be put right by politics but it is right to have hope for politics, and to demand good things from it. Rulers are put there by God to restrain evil and do good. If they do not, then we step into the role of the prophets to speak out God's justice and truth. We have been captivated by Christ, by the power of resurrection life and it is our duty, our joy and honour to be ambassadors for the Lord in our homes, in our workplaces and yes, in the public square too.
I still do not know what I will do on May 7th, but I do know that I must use the time to find out as much as I can about the candidates and their views. I know I must seek God's guidance and wisdom and not take the easy way out by not voting. If I truly care about marriage and the family, the protection of the vulnerable and religious freedoms I must exercise the privilege that is mine. I hope the joy of the risen Lord Jesus fills you with hope this Easter and remember, apathy only wins if we're foolish enough to let it.
Nola Leach is the CEO of CARE.