The heart of American politics no longer has much to do with governing or pursuing the common good. It has devolved into a public arena sport starring players consumed by competitive gamesmanship.
They’re engrossed in conquering the other side. Every move, every quip, every image, every tactic is calculated to vanquish the other side. The politician’s favorite line sums it up: “I’ll fight for you.” Everything’s a fight. A fight to obliterate whom? The enemy is the other side, those who tend to align with the opposite party–which is roughly half the population.
Sadly, Christians and the church have joined the fight. We’ve been swept up in the fervor to slay the enemy, the other side. Especially this election cycle we’ve seen endless articles, speeches, and social media posts from Christians who seek to demonize the other candidate, whomever that may be. Just enough Christianese is mixed in to make the campaigning seem sanctified.
But is this what Jesus meant when he said, “Follow me?”
Though it’s wasteful to spend spiritual capital demonizing–or deifying–universally flawed political candidates, followers of Christ do have a crucial role in the public square. We’re called to love our neighbors, regardless of political affiliation.
So, as the church, what does exercising our civic responsibility look like? I like the example of Mission Arlington, a ministry featured in our film, “When God Left the Building.” In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Mission Arlington becomes the church seven days a week in over 300 locations, meeting individuals’ needs of every kind. Loving God, loving others, in a Jesus-centered way.
Kristopher Norris, in his book, Kingdom Politics: In Search of a New Political Imagination for Today’s Church, warns that churches often fall into one of two traps–avoiding political concerns entirely, or pledging allegiance to a particular issue or party. Neither is healthy.
Take a moment and listen to this week’s Holy Soup podcast with Norris. He describes how churches can be politically involved, maintain their tax-exempt status, and keep the focus on the real King.
I couldn’t agree more, Thom. Never–in my lifetime, at least–has it been more important for Christians to reflect the love of Jesus to an alarmingly polarized world. Rather than contributing to that polarization, we must continually ask God to give us his grace, his compassion, and his understanding of the people around us. Following Christ in this way is radical, counter-intuitive, and counter-cultural–and it’s the only way to reverse the downward spiral in which our culture finds itself.
I’m glad you mentioned Lifetree Cafe during this podcast: It’s one very practical, effective way to engage in respectful, thoughtful conversations with all kinds of people. It’s in the act of getting to know them that I’ve found that we’re not so very different after all. Week after week, it underlines for me that we really are all in this thing called life together.
Christie commented on Facebook: “God Father Has all Ready Told me Who He wants in White House He wants Me vote for, But it took fasting and Prayer Seeking God will, God wants His Children to Vote But Pray about it, And He Tell you who He Wants , And I’m Strong Holy Ghost on Fire for God, Seek God Will and Direct you Thoughts and Path, So I Give God all the Glory. Hallelujah to my God for ever and ever amen.”
Neil writes on Facebook: “MY PLEDGE: If The Republican Party Costs America, Me And Our Children This Election By Not Supporting Donald Trump. If The Return Of Christ Doesn’t Happen, I Will Never Vote For Another Republican Candidate. Who Will I Vote For? I WILL WRITE IN JESUS CHRIST ACROSS THE BOARD 100%”
The Church supporting a candidate is the same as the Zealots wanting to make Jesus king. Not what he was here for. The Church supporting a candidate is like the crowd yelling “we have no king but Caesar”.
Same in the UK. All style and little substance. Or, as we might say here, politics in the Western world has turned into a pantomime, or as you might say a Vaudeville act.
Someone will be President … the will be either a continuation of the ruin of the country … or Trump .. and whatever that means … so, the options are either for sure destroy … or take a chance that God has sent a strong man to rescue us …
Not much of a choice. It’s like choosing whether to clean up puke or poop and the main stream media, the dog who created this mess is handing out either a pooper scooper or a mop depending on which party you want to have to deal with. Just as dogs return to eat their own vomit, so the media will eat up Hilary and kick their back feet at Trump.
I don’t think Trump saying he would build a wall between Mexico and America and make Mexicans pay for it seemed the words of anyone with any kind of political nous or savvy at all. He might care to remember the old saying ‘engage your brain before you put your mouth into gear’….
What about a strong woman ??!!
“Sadly, Christians and the Church have joined the fight.”
Onward Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before.
Christ the royal Master,
Leads against the foe!
Forward into battle
See His banners go!