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.