Faith. White House. President Obama. Some might wonder if any of these words are related, but Michael Wear assures us in his new book Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House about the Future of Faith in America that they are very much related and can work together for the good of the country.
A book about politics isn’t usually first on my list, but I heard a fascinating conversation with Wear on a podcast recently, so I picked up the book as well. I found it to be an interesting behind-the-scenes look of some of the former president’s policy decisions, as well as a closer look at his personal faith. Wear paints a realistic, not an idealistic, picture of how faith and politics work together and sometimes clash. (Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher. Review reflects my honest opinion.)
And he offers challenges to Christians in both political parties to engage in the political process. Here’s one: Rather than disengage from politics, Wear encourages Christians to become more involved as a way to follow the commands of Jesus. He writes: “Politics is one of the essential forums in which we can love our neighbor.” (p 209) This includes love for so-called enemies as well. Citing Jeremiah 29, where God instructs the exiles to seek the good of the city to which they’ve been exiled, Wear writes:
…we are obliged to work for the benefit and flourishing of all people, whether or not they see the world as we do or agree with us in any way. Christians’ obligation is not to their ‘tribe,’ but to their God–a God who cares deeply for all people. If a Christian’s political ides and actions are not intended toward the good of their ‘enemies,’ their political witness is not Christian in its character. When it is, the entire body politic benefits.” (208)
I started reading the book just after our new president was elected, and it has served as a reminder of how important it is to be involved in the political process.
It is a reminder that hope is not foolish if it is correctly placed, and that the world itself is not hopeless.
If you’re finding it difficult to have hope as a person of faith and you have an interest in the political realm, I can’t recommend this book enough.