Politeuomai

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Dear Friends: The following excerpt is from the Progressive Christian Voter’s Guide, which is free online at chalicepress.com. [You can find the link to this booklet in Western Friend’s online library.]

“There’s a great passage in Philippians where Paul is instructing that early, small Christian community on how to make a go of it in the period between Christ’s resurrection and return. Paul writes, ‘Politeuomai in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel’ (Philippians 1:27). Most biblical translations translate this word as ‘live,’ that is to ‘live out your life in a manner worthy of the gospel,’ yada yada yada.

“But the verb used there comes from political life and would not have been lost on the Philippians. So it’s better translated ‘live as a citizen’ or ‘engage in politics’ or ‘live out your political life’ in a manner worthy of the gospel.

“Our politics matter. The political lives of Christians matter because change is effected through the arena of politics and policy. Because our political lives matter, then political literacy becomes something more than just part of living as a citizen. Political literacy takes on the status of Christian stewardship of our time, talent, and intelligence. Awareness of politics, policy, and how change takes place within those systems is how we as Christians live out our faith. In the Benedictine monastic tradition the life of the brothers was divided between times of communal prayer and work that was meant to better the world and community (ora et labora), with one informing the other. So too is political life part of our work as Christians, and it must inform our prayer and worship just as our prayer and worship must inform our politics. . . .”

– Kate McClellan, Palo Alto Friends Meeting (PYM)