Tucked into the monthly NZ Baptist newspaper there is often advertising material of some form. This month, the insert was from the Family First organization, showing how individual MPs voted on a number of issues that Family First have identified as significant. Normally I ignore the advertising – it’s just a way for our editors to pay for the paper. This time we removed the inserts from each paper and they are now sitting in a pile with the other Christian promotional materials on the table by the door. Why? Because we hand out the NZ Baptist newspapers at the door, actively promoting them. But I will not promote a particular political viewpoint as ‘The Baptist’ viewpoint in the church. The information supplied is interesting and relevant – but it is only one point of view. There are others. I don’t mind making this point of view available, but it doesn’t get a privileged position.
So does that mean that the church is ‘neutral’ in its politics? Does that mean that we don’t have anything to say about specific policies and the parties that promote them? No! We are called to be salt and light. We are meant to make a difference, and there is no part of human life that is off limits to the Kingdom of God. Not family life, not business, not politics. But nor are we allowed to identify ourselves too closely with any particular political party. Individual Christians can, do, and should, become involved with political parties across the spectrum to work for the kingdom, but this church will not align itself to any particular party, nor will we pretend that any issue can be reduced to a simple ‘good’ or ‘bad’ response. We want to encourage everyone to consider the issues carefully, and then to act according to your conscience before God. Let’s take our political responsibilities seriously, prayerfully, and respectfully.