It is officially election season. Albeit an abnormal election year, it is still a year that holds significant weight for our country and the world around us. No matter what side you are on, there is tension. The unfortunate reality is that we have seen politics upend our society with anger and abusive language. People have become so bitter and have planted their flags so deep they no longer have the ability to listen to opposing views. It is hard to watch, especially from a Christian perspective.
What is a Christian to do in this political climate? How are we to respond? Should we? Is there a place for politics in faith? The answer to all of these questions isn’t easy. On one-hand, our American duty is to vote. On the other hand, Christian and “American” are not necessarily synonymous, making the questions even harder to answer.
Andy Stanley once said, “We need to let our faith define our politics, and not let politics define our faith.” Many people who claim Christianity have allowed their political leanings to define how they view their Christianity. There are standpoints many have taken a firm stance on, which is necessary at times. However, Christians must realize that we have a responsibility to honor the Kingdom of God before we vocalize our political viewpoints.
So, let’s go back to Andy Stanley’s quote. How should our faith define our politics? Where can we discover this answer? Interestingly enough, we can find the solutions from the very person our faith is defined by, Jesus Christ. Jesus did not come to establish a kingdom here on earth. He walked away from groups trying to make Him a king. That was not His place, and He knew it.
Jesus went against what the people were hoping for at that time. The Jewish people were waiting for the Messiah. They had built in their imagination a great government authority figure coming in to flip over the Roman rule. They were expecting a disruptive force that would dismantle a tyrannical government and establish a government that would empower God’s people and set them at the top. They were wrong.
He told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36). Pilate didn’t know how to handle that information, but neither did the people waiting for the Messiah. He recognized the government for what it was, a broken system established by man to bring them some comfort or control on this planet. Nothing more.
Saul was placed as king of Israel because the people of Israel couldn’t be satisfied with what God was providing. They wanted to match up with other cultures. God tried to tell them it was a bad idea, but He allowed it by giving them a very flawed human being to lead them. God was their rescuer and providing for them regularly, yet they still searched for a savior in their presence.
Unfortunately, this has become a reality for many Christians today. They have decided to plant their flag firmly on one political issue and are only willing to support their party. Those who have claimed Christ as their Savior and ultimate healer are searching for a savior in politics. They are voting for a human-being to bring balance and restoration to a broken world when they already have the Son of God.
I often wonder if Christ would shrug His shoulders at political parties. I wonder if He would look at the fights and name-calling between the two groups, and ask, “How does this represent me? Both groups have members of my bride, the Church, yet they are misrepresenting me to the world around them.” This hypothetical thought is why we should care about politics.
We need to care because we have brothers and sisters on both sides. We have allowed our political views to usurp the love Christ called us to share with the world. The world is watching. They are waiting to see how we speak to each other and those who are not part of Christ’s body. They are watching who we choose to support and if we put our votes toward people who represent what our Savior claims, or if this person merely fits our desire for a human savior.
In their book, I THINK YOU’RE WRONG (BUT I’M LISTENING), Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers suggest, “Each and every one of us can exert influence in small ways in our companies, our churches, our schools, and even the media. By abdicating our authority-and ignoring our responsibilities-in the problems facing our country and our world, we begin to see politicans and politics as the only solution.” We could be agents of change, but instead, we have placed our hope in politics.
Silvers shared, “Politics cannot be the sole source of our confidence, happiness, or self-worth. A deep well of connection holds us to one another and to the highest parts of ourselves. That connection will feed us, even in the harshest political climates.” Our politics cannot overtake our call to be united. Christians should be setting the standard for unity. We cannot allow world politics to hijack the mission of the Heavenly Kingdom.
So, in this season, take time to learn about the people running for offices. Practice the art of listening to other perspectives. I encourage you to seek wisdom in your voting choices. However, I want to challenge you to think before you start slinging dirt or name-calling toward people on the other political line. Although they are on a different political line, they are a part of the same Church, which takes precedent over a worldly government. Let’s not lose focus. May our hope be strengthened. Let’s point to the gospel in all we do. Let’s be sure not to lose our souls because we have gained a political victory. Let’s care about politics, but let’s care about the Kingdom more.