‘What is really real?’ C.S. Lewis once asked. What is really real is that God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ:
God and the world are comprised in the name Jesus – ‘In him all things consist’. Because of this no one should speak of God nor the world without speaking of Jesus Christ. All concepts of reality which do not take account of Him are abstractions. Nor can He be identified with an ideal or standard or with the status quo.
In Jesus we are offered the possibility of partaking in the reality of God and in the reality of the world, but not in one without the other. The reality of God discloses itself only by setting us entirely in the real world. What Colossians 1 shows us is we have to view the world now as sustained, accepted and reconciled in the reality of God. This is the deeper meaning of the revelation of God in the man Jesus of Nazareth.
Our reality, our world, is not something outside of the reality of Christ. Our participation in society must be such, then, that we never experience the reality of God without the reality of the world or the reality of the world without the reality of God. Why? Because both are completely and wholly in Jesus Christ. They cannot be spliced apart.
If the ‘secular’ is understood as an independent realm by itself, the fact of the world having been taken up into Christ is denied! There are no two spheres; there is no sacred/secular divide. But we need faith to grasp this worldview. It is imperative that we embrace this reality through faith.
In Christ the Church finds God and the world reconciled – ‘… through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross’ (Col. 1.20). The Church’s faith, then, does not divide her from the world. Belonging wholly to Christ, the Church stands at the same time wholly in the world.
All this amounts to Christians being compelled to exist in the world, in society, with great enthusiasm because it is all wrapped up in the reality of Christ. Participating in the Scottish and Welsh Elections is an important way to express that reality of Christ. Elections are in him too. And as we are in Him as well, let’s vote and vote wholeheartedly!
The Cultural Mandate
The reality of the world being in Christ clearly builds upon early episodes in scripture. The Creator God lays out four mandates for human beings as they mirror Him and steward everything that has been made. These mandates are:
The first of these mandates is so crucial to us whether at election time or part way through a parliamentary session. God instructs Adam and Eve to ‘fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth’ (Gen. 1.28), ‘to till it and keep it’ (Gen. 2.15). The first mandate of human beings is to develop and preserve the creational environment. This is known as ‘the cultural mandate’.
‘Culture’ is the result of cultivation as bacterial cultures show us. Culture is based solidly, though, when we understand it as society. We are to cultivate relationships and manage animals, land, sea and sky. More than that, however, we are to formulate ideas and organisations. We are, in short, to govern and shape this earth in sympathy with God’s way of doing things. Indeed, the very term ‘politics’ simply means how we decide to arrange society.
So right from the very start of human existence, governing and politics was part of God’s intent for us. It all goes desperately wrong of course, as we know. But after the Great Flood when God takes a tiny remnant of humans to start over again, this cultural mandate is rebooted (Gen. 9.1, 6)! Even though sin has spoiled so much of God’s good creation, His mandate is reintroduced to Noah as he begins to grow again the human race.
In Scotland and Wales, as it ever has been, God’s desire is that we shape and reshape these countries according to godly purposes and principles. The election in each country is our democratic way of admitting people who can completely focus on this task. Who will you put your strike of the pencil towards?
How did your MSPs/MSs vote?
Over the last five years your MSPs/MSs will have voted on important bills for the laws of these lands. Do you know how they cast their votes on crucial social issues when the time came?
Identify who will be standing in your constituency. Do a web search of each candidate to see if they have set up an election website or social media for themselves.
Another key way of assessing how you might vote is on the written agenda of the parties themselves.