Two Troubling Things about the Political Divisions in our World Today (Particularly Among Christians)
If you’re anything like me, you somewhat cringe when you browse news stories online, and see numerous posts unconditionally opposing or loving on some particular politician or organisation. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of all of us engaging in the politics of the day, for it’s crucial for us to be the “salt and light” in our world, hoping to make our world a better place with God’s enablement, for God’s glory. And I admit, I’m still growing in my understanding of how we should best live out our faith in light of the political world we live in.
But in light of the political divisions in our society today, let me suggest to you at least two reasons why the approach of some Christians today appears to be troubling for me.
1) It’s troubling when it appears that Christians view the world solely/primarily through the views of a particular political party, politician, or organisation, rather than through the good news of Jesus Christ, who is Lord. When Christians view the world solely/primarily through the filter of some politician’s view or political organisation we should be alarmed. That’s not the way of the Christian. As a Christian, Jesus must be the Lord of our lives. Choosing Jesus as Lord, rather than some political party or politician, means that you live your life in light of the values of God’s Kingdom. Thus, your values regularly may not align with the sentiment of our day. Christians view the world through the lens of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Christians march to the beat of a different drummer. He’s a drummer who leads us to His mission even when it’s not popular. Even when the masses may not be following. It means we are called to care for the poor, the marginalized, newcomers to our nation, the people deemed too “immoral,” and the forgotten (e.g., Lev. 19:34; 23:22; Ps. 146:9; Luke 14:13; James 1:27). And if our politics are getting in the way of doing just that, we have to ask ourselves, who really is Lord? Is it really Jesus Christ? Or is it the values of our “anointed” politician or political party?
I’m asking God to help me to better hear and march to the beat of His lead in this politically charged world. I need the Spirit’s leading here. I admit that the other drummers around us can be quite loud and confusing. Can I encourage you to invite the Spirit to help you hear and march to the beat of Christ’s leading in our world? Even if it means straying from the political perspectives we have often aligned with?
So, this is just a friendly reminder—especially for my Christian brothers and sisters. Jesus is Lord. Not right-wing leaders. Not left-wing leaders. It’s Christ. Not Trudeau, Scheer, Singh, or Harper. It’s Christ. Not Trump, Clinton, Sanders, or Obama. Not CBC, CTV, BBC, Fox, or CNN. (And if you don’t live in Canada/U.S., I’m sure you can fill in who/what those other people/organisations may be in your society).
2) It’s troubling when Christians appear to be dehumanizing people based on their political views and lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, there are some views and lifestyle choices that people express that I’m appalled by. But I know that we all fall short of what God expects of us, myself included (Rom. 3:23). However, Scripture makes clear that every human being out there is made in God’s image—regardless of whether we like them or not (Gen. 1:27).
So yes, we must follow Jesus over Trudeau, Scheer, Singh, Harper, Trump, Clinton, Sanders, Obama—or whoever. But each one of these individuals, their families, and those who follow them are made in God’s image. Life is sacred, and that includes their lives too. You say you hate them? Jesus loves each and every one of them deeply (John 3:16). Deeply. And Jesus says to even love your enemies (Matt. 5:44). You say they are to be cursed? Jesus would say bless them (Luke 6:28). As Christians, we’re called to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-3). Are we quicker to show hate on facebook or twitter for leaders before we pray for them? Here’s the thing. If we start praying for our leaders, their families, and those who follow them, I think God is gracious and can bless them. And if these leaders reflect the God’s values of love, justice, mercy, and righteousness in our society, that will be best for all of us (e.g, Micah 6:8).
Don’t get me wrong, loving and praying for someone doesn’t mean we have to agree with all that they do. I mean, see my first point above—when values fail to reflect what is right, I think we can speak to that. But we need to be careful when we begin to see these political leaders as beyond God’s grace—whoever that leader is. Because here’s the thing, when we begin to think that those leaders are so stupid, despicable, and beyond God’s grace—we become like some of the scribes and Pharisees we see described in the Gospels who felt some people were just beyond God’s grace. Jesus had to fix that perspective (Mark 2:16-17). That’s why Jesus could sit, fellowship, and bring into his fold someone who was even a tax collector, one of the most despised people among the Jews of Jesus’ day. Nothing is impossible with God—and His grace and Spirit can reach and transform any one of us.
I realise some reading here may prefer that I pick a side here: a right or left-leaning political party. Maybe that’s what you came here to read. But I’m encouraging you to submit to Christ’s Lordship; for that approach will ultimately help us view the world through the filter of those important themes like love, justice, and mercy in a way that no mere human can do for us. And this may lead us to critique various sides of the political debate, which may include our own preferred political view. And this should even cause us to pray for people in leadership out of deep love and care for those who may not hold to your preferred political views. Because at the end of the day, God’s Kingdom comes before any other human kingdom out there.