The village magazine was popped through the letter box yesterday. It is a small, colourful, well put together publication – full of local news, history, sports results, nature articles, and what is happening in the community from the point of view of the local MP, the district council, and the parish council. There are notices, a summary of parish council decisions, and lots of advertisements (which I don’t mind as they show lots of local firms). In this issue I learnt where Santa will be travelling and when through the village, which 24 homes are participating in Advent Windows (go for a walk and see a different window each night) and the identity of the new vicars – a wife and husband team – serving the village church.
During the past weeks I have also had other material popped through the letter box. Election material that presents a candidate for the electorate, a brief comment locally, and then the remainder of the material has a national focus. The national perspective high-lights the goals of the political party and offers a way forward (vote for me). I am being reminded that I am a local resident and a citizen of a nation.
Who am I as I hold these publications in my hand? That is not an unimportant question because it may shape my behaviour if I describe myself in terms of age, gender, occupation, nationality, or political party / affiliation. For Christians our identity is in Christ. We are baptised into Christ. What Jesus has done for us on the cross and how we are joined with him in Baptism makes us ‘new creations’ (in Christ) and we live this new life through faith here and now. It means for us a constant – daily –returning, reminding, recalling, recommit-ting ourselves to who we are (in Christ) and this shapes our behaviour – all our behaviour – even the behaviour we just ‘do’ without thinking – day to day. And that includes whether we go into a ballot box and what we do in there.
So this means that when we consider the election and our vote, we do so with a local perspective, with a national perspective, and with a discipleship perspective. No one said that this was easy! It involves thinking about many policies, priorities, and the effects on people (again local and national). These political issues are not equal in importance and their effects can be very quick or long term (beyond the term of the Parliament that passed the legislation) but they all need consideration. Into which area of the commandments will these policies and laws fall and how do they square with God’s Word? We want our elected representatives to be diligent in their reading, deliberations, and decisions and consequently the electorate should be diligent in their reading, deliberations, and decisions regarding political manifestos and the electioneering.
Local and national are part of our living. For the disciples of Jesus, the local and the national (and maybe increasingly the global) are where we get to live and serve our neighbour as we follow Jesus. And, of course, we are called to pray for our rulers (1 Timothy 2:1-4) in the elec-tion time and all the time. GS