I recently hosted a conversation on my Instagram with Justin Giboney, co-author of the book, Compassion & Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement.
As co-founder of the AND Campaign, Justin works to fulfill the organization’s mission to educate and organize Christians for civic and cultural engagement that results in better representation, more just and compassionate policies and a healthier political culture.
Their organization, this book, and our conversation all work towards the goal of getting Christians to understand our civic and leadership responsibilities in the public square, to remember our alliance to Jesus Christ and his eternal kingdom, and to prioritize the greatest commandment to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
To this end, I am pleased to offer a review of the book:
For starters, I love how the book is organized. It takes big ideas and breaks them down into a language that is accessible for most readers. They include biblical examples throughout the book, and I also appreciate the questions and practical exercises at the end of each chapter, which makes this a great resource for small groups, Bible studies, and classrooms.
Here is an outline of the book’s contents:
Framing the conversation:
Why should Christians pay attention to politics or take responsibility for civic engagement?
Christians should engage in politics because doing so provides us with a robust opportunity to love our neighbor by acting justly, promoting human flourishing, and seeking the prosperity of our community (7). As a matter of fact, the authors wrote, “politics is a limited but essential forum for pursuing the well-being of our neighbors (40).”
A consistent theme throughout the book is the reminder that politics is about people, and through our engagement with politics, we can show our love for our neighbors. Whether advocating, running for office, or voting, we must all ask ourselves, “What would you do for the people you love (8)?”
One of the ways that we get distracted in political conversations is through words—what the authors call “messaging and rhetoric.” Make no mistake about it, some of those words are intentionally crafted to deceive us. The Bible calls this the work of our common enemy Satan, who is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).
When lies and deceit are at work, you better believe that the enemy is at work. Telling the truth matters, and character is always on the ballot!
Therefore, we have a responsibility to test and approve the Lord’s will (Rom. 12:2), even in our politics. There is no perfect candidate and no perfect party because we live in a fallen world. We must remember that “no political ideology can replace the kingdom, nor does the kingdom of God rely on our political plans and priorities. (17).” However, we do not have the option of opting out of our civic duty to vote, because that in-action is indeed an action. We will all have to deal with the consequences of whoever is elected as our officials, and they will use our taxes and govern our lives however they see fit.
Vote your values:
“Vote your values” is a statement that I hear often around political conversations. Some talk about American values, other communities talk about values that benefit a certain people group, disciples of Jesus may talk about voting our Christian or biblical values (without specifically outlining what that means).
The authors point out that: “What is considered to be an American value has changed over the course of our history and defining what is and is not an American value is often at the very heart of our political discourse (32).”
Likewise, Christian values should not simply compel us by affirming that we are right on all accounts. Our principle commandment compels us to love our neighbors, that includes believers of all faiths or no faith. Indeed, we are even called to love our enemies. Loving our neighbors well does not mean that we have to compromise on biblical truth, and it doesn’t mean that we have to agree with our neighbors on all accounts.
It does mean that we can be bipartisan or that we can be discerning in the partnerships that we commit to, commit to understanding the complexity of the issues and polities that are up for consideration, and that we advocate and stand in solidary with the most marginalized among us, specifically the poor, prisoners, sickly, elderly, women, and children. At every level of government and engagement, we can partner with individuals and organizations that support these people groups in our communities.
“History proves that Christians can work with nonbelievers to pursue God’s will and improve the lives of our neighbors…We can’t fully pursue that commission if we’re not in contact with people outside of the faith and willing to assist those pursuing positive goals even if their foundation isn’t biblical (60).”
The Fight for Justice:
One scripture that continues to motivate Christian advocates and justice seekers is Micah 6:8:
“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
What is justice? “Justice is about the right ordering of things…Love of others should compel us to advocate for justice on their behalf as we would do for ourselves (45).” Engaging in politics gives us all an opportunity to pursue justice, and it is not an opportunity that we can pass up or take lightly.
It is my hope and prayer that we all continue to learn and engage on every level of our government, and not just every four years when we are electing a president. I pray that you are registered and that you have a plan to cast your vote. This is the opportunity for our public witness as Christians. This is a historic time and a historic election. What story will history tell about us?