I’ve been trying to wrap my thoughts around this political season for weeks. Frankly, the closer we get to the election the more I hate the entire subject. I don’t want to discuss it with anyone I care about for fear of absolutely destroying the friendship. However, on the other side I feel I have to say something. I have friends who through their political statements have offended and hurt me or others. To think that my friendship with them is so shallow as to voting for the “wrong” candidate would end it breaks my heart. How can the governmental policies of someone you have never met be more important than years of a personal relationship?
Then people want to compound the problem by adding religion and faith to the mix. Something I actually care about. Few things make me more upset than to hear someone say “if you’re a Christian you have to vote for ______”. Why? An argument can be for and against both candidates. Yet somehow your level of Christian-ness is determined by how you vote. And many feel it’s their Christian duty to adamantly advocate politically. As if their Christianity is determined by their politics. It’s almost a Chicken or Egg question; do my politics impact my religion or does my religion impact my politics?
As I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to believe that those with a true heart for God and living the gospel commission shouldn’t be involved in politics. That’s not to say they shouldn’t care how they vote in November. But the amount of time, money, and energy concentrated on campaigns could actually do something to change people’s lives.
Politics aren’t the way Christian’s were called to change the world. Many people have heard the “be in the world, but not of it” teaching, and politics are definitely more worldly than heavenly. Groups of Christian’s that have banded together to enact their version of what is right living on others via legislation have missed what being a Christian is all about.
In Matthew 22:17-21 Jesus makes his famous statement “give to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is God’s“. Many have come to a point where they have blurred the two together. They see Church and State as one vehicle for change in the world. But Jesus separated the two. At Jesus’ return when he asks did you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoners what will your answer be, “Yes I did I voted for Obama”?
Christian’s engaged in politics rarely come across as Christian anymore. The political environment that we are in has created angry, judgmental, condescending, name calling, and irrational people. There is no grace, peace, long-suffering, or joy. They attack you if you don’t believe they way they view the world. They belittle you for differing in opinion. I can’t believe some of the things that “Christians” are willing to say about another person or policy contrary to their opinion. Just because you aren’t using swear words doesn’t mean it’s Christian.
Politics are the opposite of Jesus’ message. Jesus didn’t come as a conqueror or a savvy political guru. He came humbly as a servant. For politicians and many who support them it’s about power. The power to control and have their ideals being enacted and enforced on those around them. Then, if it’s something we don’t agree with we fight it and complain about it and file lawsuits. Paul in the book of Romans says “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1).
How does worrying about what other people are doing make your life better? Many people I know are concerned about who gets what and who has what. Those who worry about how much the rich pay in taxes, how does that effect you? Are you coveting their wealth? Is it envy that drives you to despise them? Why worry about it? Paul told the Thessalonians “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).
Anyone sitting back now and saying “I need my democrat or republican friend to read this” missed the point. If you’re identifying yourself right now more strongly as a political savant, adamantly advocating for the salvation that would come to us through your party’s candidate, then I would say you have set your faith aside for matters of this world.
Are you as passionate about sharing the love and joy of Jesus as you are about the healthcare plan of Romney or Obama? Do you know your Bible as well as you do the Republican party platform? I’ve heard people refer to the decision in November as being of too great of importance not to speak out. But there are decisions and actions that are of infinitely greater consequence that they ignore on a day to day basis. To love the unlovable, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, do justly, and share the good news at all times.