I once received criticism for leading prayers of the people, specifically praying for refugees and exhorting parishioners to “Treat the refugees among you kindly…” A good and well-meaning person later said “We really shouldn’t pray political things during prayers.” I disagreed with him gently, told him that I was not praying politics at all but rather I was praying scripture, particularly Leviticus 19:34
The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
I also said that I felt responsible to teach people to pray according to biblical example, that instead of amending scripture to our politics or opinions, we must amend our life and prayers as we are informed by scriptural example and deed, whenever possible.
Historically, at it’s worst the church has been complicit with the mistakes and abuses of the state. At it’s best the church often functions as the conscience of the state. When the church functions as it should then slavery ends, apartheid ends, people are treated with dignity and respect as an image-bearer of their Heavenly Father.
We face real issues, there are real problems to solve, but we must consider what kind of world we wish to live in and treat others accordingly…the whole “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” thing.
Wilberforce, MLK, Desmond Tutu & many others, with or without famous names, have proven time and again the powerful need for the church to promote the good conscience of a nation. Often that is to uphold the law and to be good citizens, and sometimes that is to oppose laws that are out of date or are just plain wrong. We should continue to be the vioce of good conscience, It’s important and it will determine what kind of world we live in.