(My husband wanted me to post this, after a short conversation this morning.)
Sometimes I think we confuse faith and politics.
Faith is about ultimate concerns, and high ideals. It is about holding fast and not compromising. Faith is a matter of life and death (although it also gets us through the day). Faith is "blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
Politics is practical, down-to-earth. It's not about perfection, but it is about improvement, in one way or another. In politics, there has to be compromise, making deals, getting hands dirty.
Lately it seems that faith has become practical and politics more ideological. I'll bet if you go back a century or so, you won't find many sermons that are "practical, and relate to our daily life," as is common now. Back in the 18th Century, the sermons were called, "Sinners in the hands of an Angry God," (for example) not "8 Ways to have a Happy Marriage."
Now politics is about ultimate concerns, a matter of life and death. I'm right and you're wrong. We can't work together. No compromising. In some cases, our political commitments have become our religion.
I have a friend who proselytizes for the free market. If he were as zealous for Jesus, I think the whole world would be Christian (or at least his neighborhood.) He is Very Suspicious of the Social Justice Christians, who, to be fair, are probably Very Suspicious of him.
Practical, down-to-earth, roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-things-down. That's politics. It's down to earth, humble, sometimes-your-hands-get-dirty work.
A lot of people have observed that Americans hate politics. There may be a lot of reasons for this, but I suspect this is one of them: that politics has become the new religion, where people draw lines in the sand and declare those who disagree not only Wrong, but Unrighteous. Those who disagree are The Enemy. If you are Liberal, conservatives are commmonly called "Idiots." Or is it the other way around? If you are Conservative, liberals are commonly called "idiots." Or, Hitler.
Don't get me wrong, I think politics is important, and is part of making the world a better place. A better place, but not a perfect place. But politicians are not Messiahs, whether the politician is Barack Obama talking about "Hope" or Sarah Palin's with her "Mama Grizzlies" or even Ronald Reagan's "It's morning in America." If you doubt, imagine even one politician, even the most honorable ,respectable, politician you like best, saying something like "Love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you." Especially in an election year.
So I pray for all of us, politicians, pastors, people who hate politics, to roll up their sleeves and get things done, to make the world better, if not perfect. And then I pray that the vision of God's reign of love keeps burning in my heart.