The Elephant, Donkey, and Goat in the Room
Politicians are the American church’s big scapegoat.
We sit around aimlessly for hours discussing the newest hot button political topic, whether its Donald Trump’s latest tweet or Nancy Pelosi’s latest mani-pedi. We blame so-and-so for such-and-such an issue and constantly put the entire weight of human depravity on the backs of these silly people who are admittedly, unfortunately running our country.
The issue is that we put so much stock in who is running the government that we forget that we serve a God sovereign over every ruler and every nation. We sit back and worry that the newest leader or prospective leader will ruin our country, and we forget that our citizenship is not of this world. We throw everything we are at one political party believing that they are the key to escaping the evil onslaught of the opposition’s regime and ignore that we already know the way, the truth, and the life. In the process, we waste incredible amounts of time, energy, resources, and good relationships on something so futile as politics.
God never said that we needed to save the world through our government. Christ does not say, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to the three branches of government in the United States of America”. He says, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me”, and it is because Christ has this authority that he subsequently commands, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:16-20). He does not want us to change laws. He wants us to change lives, as we act on his behalf through his power for his glory.
The reality is that when we sit back and attack politicians and their respective supporters, type up that ostensibly perfect argument against our political “enemies” on Facebook, and blame Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush again, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Roosevelt, Hoover, Coolidge, Harding, Wilson, Taft, and Roosevelt again for every issue in our world, all we are doing is passing the buck. We are using these men and women in power to remove the responsibility that we have as the church and redirect it elsewhere. As Pilate washed his hands before condemning Christ to death, we wash ours of any responsibility to be the hands and feet of Christ. Here is the reality:
We don't need the government’s permission to further the kingdom of God.
Our reality as Christians is that God is always sovereign (Colossians 1:16-17). If you genuinely believe that the governing political party of any nation has any sway in God’s plan for his creation, then we do not worship the same God. His kingdom is not glorified by the systems flawed humans have created. We do not further the kingdom of God when we cast our ballot at the voting booth. In fact, if we steep our theology in the cesspool of politics, we bastardize our faith. Christ does not want Republicans, Democrats, or Independents as followers. He wants disciples, and he wants these disciples to take up their crosses and follow him (Matthew 16:24-26).
Instead of wasting time squabbling over a failed solution, the church must seize the opportunities that the Holy Spirit presents to us on a daily basis. Make no mistake, your right to belittle someone over their political opinions should not and most certainly does not outweigh your opportunity to show someone the love of Jesus Christ, and the second you drop this love for the sake of being right, the Holy Spirit will move on and look for a different vessel to include in God’s plan for the world.
We each have our different spheres of influence, and these spheres are our own mission fields. Those around us at work, in our families, and in our social circles are the people, the opportunities, God has put in your life. Whether Trump or Biden wins the upcoming election, Christ still wants us to love that person at work we cannot stand. Regardless of the next COVID-19 precaution your local state government mandates, you still need to be a disciple of Christ. If we falter in carrying our cross when something happens in the political arena that upsets us, our priorities and our faith is grossly misplaced. If we are full of hatred when we flip to a specific news network or see a comment on Facebook with which we politically disagree, then we need to take a hard look ourselves and get our priorities straight. When Jesus looked at the world in its gross and lost shape, he did not despair. Instead, he saw a ripe harvest ready to receive the Word of God (John 4:35).
We need to stop using politicians as scapegoats and start taking the initiative in our different spheres of influence. As individuals, we need to start investing our time, money, and energy to love those around us. We may have little to no control over who wins the next presidential elections, but we do have the power in us, given by the Holy Spirit, to love our neighbor. As local church bodies, we need to start looking for opportunities to love our towns and cities. Of course, there are those of us who have already taken up their crosses to follow Christ’s rule and example, but the rest of the church must join them. It is time that the body of Christ in America casts off the chains of pessimistic human wisdom and puts on the hope that we have in our Lord and Savior.