Politics. It’s that strange uncle who you avoid for dear life at every holiday. It’s your mom’s entirely well-meaning, yet entirely uninformed friend from college who you diligently scroll past on Facebook. It’s the curse word whose prohibition is sweeping dinner tables and family gatherings worldwide. It’s the allergy-induced anaphylactic shock that is spurred within us all at the mere mention of the word. Politics. When and why did politics become the dirty word of today? Better yet, when and why did politics become the dirty word of the Church?
What if we weren’t confined to viewing politics in this way? What if we weren’t confined to leading our students and those in my generation to view politics in this way? What if we embraced the freedom that can come from unity in Christ, rather than division in the Church and in the polls? There can be more to politics than fear, confusion, avoidance, apathy, mistrust, and brokenness. A God who restores all things can restore our nations as well.
As I was preparing to write this blog, I thought and prayed about what my approach should be to this taboo and uncomfortable topic. How does one even address politics and faith? How can they go together in a tasteful, nonjudgmental, and generous way? As I prayed, I felt God leading me to write a letter about Gen-Z from Gen-Z. It’s no secret that there is a clear divide between the older and younger generations when it comes to politics. The tale is as old as time. The older generation typically views the younger as one of two things. They’re either too loud, progressive, and outspoken when it comes to the things they care about or they are too apathetic, blasé, and complicit with the state of the world. “Kids these days won’t pull themselves away from their phones long enough to do anything about the world around them!” Sound familiar? On the other hand, the younger generation typically views the older generation as one of two things. They are either too close-minded, judgmental, and old-fashioned to get with the times of change or they are actively contributing to the perpetuation of broken systems, oppression, and division. In my opinion, both generations have each built a lovely reputation for themselves in which none of these options are outlandish or too far off. There is some inarguable merit to some of these stances. That being said, each generation is teaming with individuals who are making strides to undo and rewrite the narrative of their respective reputation. Whether we see it before our eyes or not, restoration is taking place no matter how small the scale.
That being said, each generation is teaming with individuals who are making strides to undo and rewrite the narrative of their respective reputation.Jillian Keller
So, as a member of Gen-Z writing about Gen-Z, I challenge you to the following. View our society and the younger generation for what it is: a complicated and intricate web of beauty and brokenness. Every single society, every culture, every political party, every church is full of things that are breathtakingly beautiful and devastatingly unacceptable. As recipients of God’s kingdom, we are called to notice, be curious about, participate in, and preserve the things that are beautiful. On the other hand, we have an inescapable responsibility to lead our lives intentionally, choosing our posture as the church. When we look around our nations—at the media, at the headlines, at the leaders—we often see individuals taking a posture of closed fists held tightly to their chests. This is not the posture of our Jesus. Jesus led with a posture of palms open, fingers spread, and arms outstretched. This is how we ought to live. Not just as the Body of Christ aiming to further the gospel but as people who live in a world in which conversations about politics are unavoidable and hurting people cannot go unseen and unloved. We have a responsibility—a responsibility to be people of peace, people of grace, and people of open hands.
On the other hand, we have an inescapable responsibility to lead our lives intentionally, choosing our posture as the church.Jillian Keller
What does this look like for the future of our generations coexisting with one another in politics? It looks like us choosing to honor you as you choose to honor us. It looks like us humbling ourselves and intentionally choosing to learn from one another. I challenge the older generation to not fall into the trap of viewing my generation as lazy, apathetic, and complicit with the state of our world. We are impassioned, eager, and hungry to make changes. I challenge my generation to choose to glean as much as we can from the generations before us. Do not believe the lie that they are exclusively uninformed, systemically biased, and contributing to oppression. Each generation is complex. Each generation has things that are breathtakingly beautiful and devastatingly unacceptable. Each generation is learning and growing. So, what does politics in the Church look like?
It looks like grace. It looks like curiosity. It looks like empathy. It looks like open hands.