"We're different bro"
I smiled and smiled all week. Every time the Lib Dem conference was reported, we heard the little fellows making a big noise. Either they were saying "we're doing wonders and without us the nation would be in a state and the government a mess." Or they were saying "we're not like them, we are totally different and we want to maintain our uniqueness." My guess is that no-one spotted the apparent contradiction between these two messages: if you are so different from the Torries, how can you have worked together so closely to have achieved such amazing things?
It was the second message that made me smile the most, the constant insisting that "we ain't like them". (By the way this smile is not party-political bias - I find myself in 2011 apolitical - completely unable to commit to any of the mainstream parties). The "we is different" message is a structural theme of western democracies: without distance all parties would look the same and who's to know who to vote for. Disunity is, by definition, an essential element of western democracies.
The great tragedy is that many western churches have bought into this political system. They run their churches much like the world runs its governments; we have agendas, constitutions, voting, resignations, abstentions, one-upmanship and every other curs-ed political implement and apparatus. If the Holy Spirit wanted a look in or a say at our church meetings, he'd have a job on His hands.
Curs-ed political implements?
Yes, curs-ed because in the world, politics is all about division, disunity, differences, disputes, disagreement, and every other d-word you can think of. But is that what the Kingdom of God is about? At the very heart of the Gospel is its unifying power, the ability to join very disparate people into one people, with a common doctrine, common love, common Saviour, common aim and purposes. In the Kingdom of God division is regarded as Satan's work.
Take resignation as an example. In the world it's a way of protesting against some decision you don't like - and here is the important feature of resignation in the world - and letting everyone know that you are unhappy with the decision. People even want their resignations minuted, so the future as well as the present is informed of their dissent! In the Kingdom of God, however, Jesus insists that if a brother offends you, you are meant to go to him without telling another soul (Matthew 18) so that needless ripples are avoided and unity prevails. "I resign" is all about disunity, it says "I want to divide the church into two groups, one who agree with my dissent and one group who disagree". By contrast the Gospel is all about unity. Resignation is worldly.
And so I could go on, showing that every activity of democracies was at root about disunity, or in one way or another promoted division.
We foolish western Christians
But the fact that we bring all this junk into the church is just one more example of how blind we western Christians are to our real heritage. All this barking about being biblical is often pure bluff, since in point of fact we are often mere children of The Darkening*, having adopted every foolish method of the world.
Poltiking, in other words, since it is a divisive system, belongs to another kingdom.
* The Darkening is a phrase I use to describe the enlightenment (not worthy of capitals). The Darkening (capitalised to remind us of it's true nature) represents all human reasoning without God, from the dawn of creation.