Faith matters

There’s a lot of chatter about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, and it seems that virtually all of the major candidates for president have had to talk about theirs. The question is whether faith is, or ought to be, important.

For a Christian, faith ought to be the first priority. After all, if you are a Christian, you will most likely believe that there is a world to come, and that it will last for all of eternity. As opposed to the here and now, where we are only renters of our corporeal bodies. And quite transient, at that.

But, transient as it may be, an existence for which we have been given some rather explicit guidance by Jesus. So it would be a curious man, indeed, who did not allow his faith to guide his politics.

If I had to cite but one example of the power of faith over earthly politics, it would be John Newton’s conversion to Christianity aboard his slave ship, the Greyhound, in 1748. Newton came to realize, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that it is wrong to hold men in bondage and treat them as less than human.

Every time we sing “Amazing Grace,” we sing of a God with the power to convert us to His glory. A God whose Holy Spirit lives in us, giving us the grace to show His mercy and justice in the here and now.   And, if we seek perfect union with God, as we must after being convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit, it follows, as night follows day, that our faith motivate our every action.

Let’s turn this around: should a man (or woman) allow earthly political concerns to trump what his faith commands him to do? Not hardly. The simplest answer is from Scripture, Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

We will fall far short of being perfect. But that does not mean that we give up trying. And a major part of that is to allow our faith to illuminate everything we do in this life. Most especially politics, which has the potential for spreading the Gospel by our example.

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