When is the last time you checked out the news and didn’t hear something about the presidential campaign? It was probably last year some time — maybe it was last summer. Everyday it seems as if there is something new on the campaign trail; and if there isn’t, the TV talking heads are more than happy to rehash some old news.
Of course, I don’t have to tell you it’s only beginning. We haven’t even entered the real election season — when two candidates go head-to-head all the way to November.
So, perhaps now would be a good time for me to share the ways we as Christians sometimes get politics wrong. These may be a bit exaggerated, but the core point behind them holds true, I believe. Here they are; feel free to comment if you agree or disagree:
- We sometimes make politics bigger than it should be. Politics isn’t the kingdom of God. Politics has no bearing on the Church being the Church. In other words, the Supreme Court can identify marriage however they want; that doesn’t change how followers of Jesus should understand or live out their marriages.
- We sometimes make politics smaller than it should be. Huh? Didn’t you just contradict yourself, Jeff? Maybe. But if I did, then that would just make me a good politician, now wouldn’t it? But, really, if we tend to over-emphasize politics, we can also under-emphasize it, too. Political decisions do matter. Laws and court rulings can be just or unjust. Decisions made in Washington and Frankfort (my state capital) do have real-life implications. So, as Christians, we should care about what our government does; we should pray about and advocate for what is just, right, and honorable — while at the same time, remembering that laws will never keep us from living out what is just, right, and honorable.
- God is not a Democrat or a Republican. Even though most of us know this, we sometimes act as if He is one or the other — or we act that a faithful Christian can only affiliate with one particular political party. Let’s be honest — faithful people can disagree about government policy. Let’s not ever let that keep us from honest conversations, but the kind that are rooted in the truth that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
- America is not a Christian nation. Frankly, I don’t think it ever has been. And honestly, that’s the point. Our country was founded on religious freedom and tolerance. Now, the Church has had unprecedented freedom in our country, something for which I am grateful. But that freedom comes in the context of a nation that covers the religious spectrum — from the rise of the “Nones” (those who have no religious affiliation of any kind), to the opportunity all people have to live out their faith, including the right to convert. Think what a wonderful gift this is — especially in a world where so many people in so many countries do not have the right to live out their faith, or change their faith, without serious consequences.
I am grateful to be an American. Our country is not perfect; our politics are far from perfect. Like you, there are a number of things I would change if I could. (For example, could someone please explain the presidential nominating process?) Even so, I think we have one of the least-worst forms of government in a broken world that will never get its politics perfect. So, as followers of Jesus, let’s:
- be grateful for what we have in our country;
- let’s keep things in perspective;
- let’s focus on what is just and right;
- let’s never stop loving, even those we disagree with;
- and, let’s keep being the Church.
For these are things that, no matter how much does change around us, do not change.