Within our congregation, there are a range of political views on most topics I suspect. These views are deeply held. Most folk probably agree on principles, such as ‘fighting for justice’, however it is what we see as justice and how we fight for it which is where the divergence of opinions becomes evident. In one of my previous careers, I was a trained facilitator in consensus building, working with very different groups of people towards a common aim. It used to make me smile as a steady trickle of individuals would come up to me after each meeting and say “All this is important, but ……… is obviously the top priority. “ The …….. was, unsurprisingly the issue or topic that they were the most passionate about. My favourite moment was when I was chairing a meeting and one of the environmental activists cried out in frustration “We are doing all this talking when we really should be out there saving the planet.”
Passionate people change the world. Consensus building means getting the best for as many people as possible, not just agreeing the lowest common denominator. The Reverend Ian Paisley died recently. He had a voice like a cheese grater and his passion for smashing the IRA and preserving Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom could have fuelled several power stations. Yet, for all his powerful rhetoric, he could see the bigger picture and finally came to share political power with those who were previously his arch enemies. Ultimately, he believed in peace more than he believed in war. I wonder what guidance God offered him as he gradually shifted his position and worked with others to build a consensus on the way forward for his beloved country.
I do not know if God is concerned with geographic borders. Scripture tells us that as people of faith we need to reach out to the poor, the hungry, the homeless and others in need. Using the ballot box to make our politicians take notice is one way of showing that we care about these things.