First Family News – 2020 September “There’s Room at this Table”
Rev. Sam B. Kim
You’ve likely heard the saying, “Never discuss religion or politics in polite company.” Many of us abide by it, especially in the polarizing political culture we live in today. We don’t want to spoil a pleasant dinner with close friends or family by raising such topics at the table.
While I understand the intent of the old maxim, I believe it’s time to re-examine our common practice of avoiding conversations over religion and politics, for a few reasons. The first reason is theological.
For Christians, religion and politics are engrained in our faith. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was largely a political event. It was the Roman authorities, namely Pontius Pilate, who convicted Jesus, in partnership with the religious leaders. If it were a religious event, Jesus would have been stoned to death. With the cross as the central act and symbol of our faith, how can Christians take politics and religion out of our shared dialogue?
Secondly, religion and politics are built into the establishment of our Nation. This country was founded on Biblical principles. In fact, whoever our next President is going to be, in the coming months he will lay his hand on a Bible when sworn into office. As Christians living in America, spiritual life and political life go hand in hand.
Lastly, something needs to change. Do you like where our practice of evading conversations on religion and politics has brought us? Am I the only person that’s tired of tippy-toeing around the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’, especially with family and friends whom I care deeply about? We have lost the ability to engage in faithful and fruitful discussions over sensitive and controversial issues.
One way we can bring about change is by bringing religion and politics back to Christ’s table. As followers of Jesus, the table in which we surround ourselves is a table of abundant grace. When Jesus gathered his closest companions for his last meal, it wasn’t meant for ‘polite company.’ It was meant to symbolize God’s beloved community. As one pastor and author tells us about Christ’s table of grace:
There is no greater symbol of our common bond in the household of God than the dinner table. There is no more tangible sign of our genuine love and acceptance of one another than our willingness – our eagerness – to share our bread with one another. At the table, strangers and acquaintances become friends. At the table, there is opportunity for true companionship – a word that comes from the Latin, companis, which means, literally, “with bread.” A companion is someone with whom you share bread. (You Need to Get Out More, Feldmeir).
As companions of Christ, and with Christ as the host, there is room at the table for religion and politics.