One of the things I always find slightly funny, and a little disconcerting, is the way some Christians behave when it comes to elections, political parties and even nationalism itself. This seems especially true during that not-so-wonderful time of life when election season rolls around, and people who used to be your friends start giving you dark stares for not supporting their favorite presidential candidate…or worse, questioning their favorite political party. It reminds me a little of those dark days of the time referred to as the “Civil War” when everyone was forced to choose a side, and anyone who tried to remain neutral was often mistreated, persecuted and considered a traitor. Amazingly, that bloody conflict (in which an estimated 1 million men, women and children were killed) involved many professing Christians on both sides. Imagine how the Gospel could have advanced throughout the country had this conflict been avoided. Blessed are the peacemakers?
Or, maybe let’s put it this way. Could you imagine if Jesus and His twelve disciples went around admonishing people to lend political support to a Jewish or Roman leader of the day? There were plenty of politicians, political scheming and upsetting issues regarding the government happening in the time of Christ, and Jesus never shied away from telling the truth about them. He spoke out against King Herod, calling him a fox (Luke 13:32), had plenty to say about the hypocrisy of the teachers of the law and Pharisees (Matthew 23) and spoke about giving to God what is His, and giving only to Caesar what belongs to him – which may not be much of anything good (Matthew 22:20-22). But, we never read of Him talking about XYZ politician and saying things like, “Well, I may not agree with this guy on everything – but he’s certainly talking like he’s going to fix taxes and eliminate governmental corruption, so maybe we’d do well to give him our support.” Instead, what He DID do was call everyone, politicians included, to repentance and obedience to God and His law.
Still, I suppose some of this “Statist” attitude on behalf of many American Christians could stem from the fact that nationalism is unwittingly promoted in a lot of churches, with flag displays prominently situated at the front of the sanctuary, and at the entrance to the church (with the Christian flag ironically in a position of submission to the government flag). I’ve even seen some churches with patriotic and military displays elsewhere in the building, which again may inadvertently place an overt emphasis on the temporary kingdoms of man. So instead of participating in nationalistic fervor and allowing ourselves to be used by politicians and political parties – what about focusing on Christ, the only source of hope and peace in this broken world, and working to build His Kingdom, the only Kingdom that will last for all eternity?
In the end, I think it’s a problem when Christians get more excited about the election than they do over missions, church planting, or making disciples within their community. Because after all, we are citizens and ambassadors of the Kingdom of God first and foremost! Imagine what it could look like if we lived like it?
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