With all the political turmoil of late, I’ve heard a lot of unChrist-like attitudes coming from Christians toward those on the other side of their aisle. Sadly, this is nothing new.
The division between the two largest American political parties infiltrates deep into many churches. Once there, it often festers and can lead to division, bickering, and gossiping between brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is wrong.
This should not be.
The sinful ways of the world are always looking for an inroad to corrupt the church from the inside. American politics is often a means for exactly that, polluting the church and keeping her from fully achieving her gospel mission.
Therefore I am concerned for my Christian brothers and sisters who are heavily engaged in politics. I have worries about Christians going too far down into the rabbit hole of American politics. I have reservations concerning how much good they claim it will do.
Preserving the ‘American way’, or fighting to restore whatever that used to mean in the past, is not the highest priority for American Christians. There are much more important things for us to be about.
So to help work through these problems, and possibly reorient some of our perspectives, here are a couple of biblical principles which I believe are more important than our American political views or allegiances. At the very least these three principles act as guard-rails for Christians entering the American political arena.
Civility, Gospel-Centeredness, and Humbleness
1) Civility- Treating people with a loving respect all the time, no matter what, The End! (Even if they support abortion. Even if they don’t give a rip about the poor. Even if their political views seem insane.)
Romans 12:18 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Matt. 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
2) Gospel-Centeredness- The only reason for Christians get involved with politics is to be a testimony of Christ to our neighbors. Sharing the gospel takes many forms, but if our political involvement makes sharing the gospel impossible, it’s time to drop out!
1 Cor. 9:12 “We endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.”
1 Cor. 9:22-23 “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
1 Cor. 10:31-33 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. …just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”
3) Humbleness- Christ surrendered everything, all of his ‘God given rights’, for our freedom from sin and ultimate salvation. We must follow this cruciform (cross-shaped) example of our Lord. (Even before our enemies!)
Matt. 23:12 “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Phil. 2:8 “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Romans 5:8 “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
1 Peter 3:8-9 “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
If I were to describe the gospel of Jesus Christ in two words I’d go with ‘enemy love.’ Boiled down into these words are the essential concepts of sin and falleness- we are enemies of God- and yet John 3:16 is also true, God’s disposition toward us is that of love and salvation.
Jesus both teaches and embodies this concept of ‘enemy love.’ His Sermon on the Mount is rich with it, and his death/resurrection from the cross prove God’s heart toward his enemies (mankind).
So this then is the default mode of the Christian faith: enemy love. This should be characterized in Christian ethics and moral behavior. It should be perpetually evident as we live out the Great Commission to the world and as we grow together as the Church.