The church as an alternative government

The church as an alternative government

In an ideal democratic system, there is a political party in government and another one in opposition. This is far healthier than having just one person or party controlling everything with no checks and balances. In theory, the opposition is supposed to present an alternative view of what the government could be. They stop the abuse of power of the government and show the people a different way of seeing the world.

In reality, of course, things are rarely so civilised. In my experience, most of the time opposition parties relish just saying ‘no’ to anything proposed by the government! They fail to put forward any real alternative vision and simply give a negative impression to voters. It is rare that an opposition is swept into power by their better vision for what the country can be; more likely, the current government loses the support of the people and voters will give anyone else a chance.

I think it is helpful to think of the church as an alternative government. Society as a whole is giving a vision of what the world is and what it can be. People are being educated about reaching their potential and expressing their identities. The biggest things wrong with the world are racism and sexism. The biggest risks to the future are climate change and economic problems.

Into this context, the church has the opportunity to show that our Biblical vision for the world is much bigger and better than that. We believe in a God who loves us and wants us to be with Him forever. We believe that work is meaningful, care for people and the world is important, and the biggest thing wrong with the world is sin. We believe that the biggest risk for the future is the rejection of Jesus.

How are we going in presenting this alternative vision to the world? I fear that many churches come across like a typical opposition party. People hear us saying ‘no’ to all kinds of things that they think are fine or fun while we rarely put a positive word out there. We should be showing the world that real community can be found in the church. We should be showing grace to those who oppose us rather than the cancelling and judgement so prevalent elsewhere. And we should be active in evangelism, showing the reason for the hope that we have.

Let’s present a positive vision to the world around us. We have so much to offer; we have the very words of eternal life.