This post has been a long time in the making. Not so much in writing, but it’s been in my mind for a quite a while now. This is an issue that has long bothered me and I have thought about at length, and I think the time has come to finally share what has been on my heart for so long. It is that somehow, despite politicians being so off-putting, so narcissistic, so incapable at their jobs, and despite how angry people seem to get over politics so often, politics and politicians been elevated so high that I would dare to say many, many people worship them like idols, including professing Christians.
While it is true that politicians have forced bigger government into our lives and by necessity made politics a much bigger deal than they used to be, we also bear some responsibility by voting them into office in the first place, and there is no excuse for professing Christians to follow them down this hole of making politics into everything we should ever care about
I want to be clear: I am not at all saying that Christians should not care or be involved in politics at all and should avoid them; that is the opposite of what I am saying. What I am saying is that for every political or social issue we care about, no matter what it is, there needs to be a grounding for caring for such an issue. In other words, the reason we should care about politics should be for a greater purpose than simply just caring about it in and of itself.
The Apostle Paul writes that no matter what we do, whether we are eating, drinking, playing sports, talking with friends, etc., we should do all of that for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Of course, politics, both practicing and talking about them, also falls under the umbrella of aiming to glorify God. He also says in another place, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Galatians 6:14) and, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Now, this does not mean that the only words that ever came out of Paul’s mouth were exclusively the good news of Christ crucified. He goes on in 1 Corinthians to talk about many more topics such as church discipline, marriage and singleness, food offered to idols, spiritual gifts, and much more. What it means to “know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” is to, in everything we think, say, and do, to do so in a way that is a reflection of the Gospel. In other words, the Gospel should be the only grounds by which we ever do anything.
We see this illustrated in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 where Paul says that without love, nothing we do matters. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
It doesn’t matter how much good we seem to do, or what political stances we have, or which candidate we prefer; if we are not doing it from a place of love (the Greek word for love in this context is a very affectionate type of love, and is the same word that Jesus uses in John 15:9-10 when he tells his disciples to abide in his love), then all of our work is meaningless and has no foundation.
Without the Gospel and without love, there is no purpose or hope in life. Towards the end of 1 Corinthians, Paul says this: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins…If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people to be pitied” (15:14, 17, 19). What Paul is saying here is that if we hinge everything in our lives on Christ but he never rose from the dead, all of the sacrifices we make and the way of life we live as Christians is pointless. Why not just go out and live it up and do as we please? If we are still in our sins with no way out, why not just keep sinning and have fun?
But that is not the case, as we know that after being crucified Jesus did rise from the grave and conquer death once for all (Romans 5:15-21). Therefore, because we have this hope in Christ that our sins are forgiven and we have right standing with God, we make this message the center of everything in our lives, just as Paul did (Galatians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 2:2).
So now, to be more specific, I pose the question: Christian, what drives your involvement and passion in politics? Is it because you like the chaos? If so, God is not pleased with you (1 Corinthians 14:33). Is it because you like to show off you intellect and knowledge? If so, God is not pleased with you (1 Samuel 2:3). Is it because you enjoy insulting others when you don’t agree with them? If so, God is not pleased with you (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
Or, are you involved and passionate about politics because you have a deep and abiding passion for the Gospel which drives and gives purpose to every other part of your life? Do you care more about seeing lives transformed by Jesus Christ than you care about your favorite policies being implemented? Does your heart break for the evils and injustices that not only happen in our own country, but also across the world, and you know that the only thing that can truly make a difference is the good news of Jesus Christ and him crucified? Now, Christian, if this is the case, then God is pleased with you.
In closing, I have some reflection questions that I think would be helpful to consider:
- How many professing Christians in America get into endless fights defending their favorite politicians, but never say a single word when God is blasphemed every day in our culture and around the world?
- How many professing Christians in America who are Conservative in their politics will go on and on about how much President Trump has sacrificed his billionaire lifestyle to save us from socialism and be ridiculed, attacked, and slandered by the media and Democrats, but rarely, if ever speak of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of those who believe in him?
- Christians, do you doubt or assume someone’s salvation based on whether they agree with you politically or not?
- Christians, do you spend more time thinking and talking about how your preferred government policies will make everyone’s lives better more than thinking and talking about the Gospel and it’s ability to transform lives for eternity?
- Christians, how much time do we spend in Twitter battles and internet wars defending our favorite politicians instead of going out and defending Christ and our faith?
- Again I ask, Christians, how many of you have unfriended, blocked, or unfollowed someone on social media because you don’t like their politics, but soak in a fake and blasphemous idea of Christianity from big-name preachers who care nothing for God and holiness and care everything for their own personal gain?
- Christians, pretend as if I am looking you square in the eyes when I ask this: Why do you openly and unapologetically break the first of the Ten Commandments? “I am the Lord your God..You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3).
This is a serious matter, and should not be taken lightly. God warns that idolaters, those who cherish anything other than God, will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (Revelation 21:8). So I press one final question: Is Christ your highest desire? Or is it something else?