On November 8, 2016, I curled into my bed at 3 am repeating, “No, no, no, this can’t be,” as my friend attempted to console me. We were glued to our TVs late into the night, witnessing the surprising win for the 45th Presidency of the United States.
In 2016, I would be called an engaged citizen. I watched the debates. I kept up with political headlines. I knew my stances and was prepared for a political conversation on various hot topics. I donated to my favorite candidate and even bought a shirt (Ru-Bae-O, anyone?). I kept up with the statistical projections, and I was ready. I felt our country was finally moving in the right direction.
DIVISION AND ALLEGIANCE
As we neared the election, I put my absentee ballot in the mail tray at my job. As I did, the receptionist – a Christian and friend of mine – inquired who I was voting for. When I told her, she cried “Victoria! You’re a Christian woman. How could you?” I was shocked. She apologized a few days later, but it exemplifies how core to our identity and faith politics has become. To her at that moment, my faith and vote were not compatible.
Most would agree that politics in the United States is more polarized and core to our identities than ever before. Christianity is not absolved from this! All one needs to do is read the comments on a Christianity Today or Relevant Magazine Facebook post to see how much this has divided our church. Pastors, publications, and universities promise loyalty to certain leaders.
Can you imagine if Jesus promised passionate loyalty to Herod or Pontious Pilate? Our salvation would be at stake! The events we read in Luke 23:1-25 may have gone much differently had Jesus sworn allegiance to either leader, thus diverting God’s will for the crucifixion and resurrection. We know that our Lord is the King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15) who does not show partiality (Deuteronomy 10:17). John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible says, “[God] bestows his favours, whether in a way of providence or grace, according to his sovereign will and pleasure, without regard to the works and merits of men, their characters or circumstances.” These truths apply to our current political climate.
Fast forward a few years, and we are nearing the 2020 presidential election. Social media is abuzz with clap-back headlines and the latest primary winners. Who is in; who is out. The latest controversy. The new faces of the Democratic and Republican parties. “Did you watch the debate?” excited friends and coworkers ask.
“No,” I reply, usually to surprise. “This doesn’t matter much to me.”
Responses are varied. I’ve been told that it’s a privileged thing to say. I hear that I’m a disengaged citizen. They say I don’t care about others, our country, and our laws. Bible verses are thrown at me, weaponized and defensive.
Politics are no longer an idol in which I put my trust and faith.
EMBRACING A TRUTHFUL WORLDVIEW
God has been at work in this area of my life for the last few years. In that time, He has shaken loose some idols and helped me come back to the true foundation for my worldview. He has been gracious in teaching and correcting me.
My faith is in God, who is sovereign over everything in this world. In reminding myself of this truth, I can trust there is purpose and a plan for our good. I’ve become numb to the virtue signaling, headlines, and clap-backs. It’s all intended to divide and push agendas. Not unlike many others, I feel politically homeless in our partisan system.
From an eternal perspective, what value is there in one specific country’s leader at any specific time? Daniel 2:21 says, “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” A leader rises up, only to be replaced by another. (emphasis added)
Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 says, “What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night, their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.” Friends, when Jesus returns, presidents and kingdoms will fade away. This world, with its leaders, is not our true home.
POLITICAL CHANGE BEGINS WITH CHRISTIANITY
It isn’t that we shouldn’t vote or pay attention to the political landscape. While it is still important, we must ask ourselves if it is where we put our faith. What are our motives with this election? Are we holding back love for our neighbors due to their political views? Friends, if so, we’re doing this all wrong. Let change and compassion in this polarized climate begin with us.
As Christians, we are instructed in 1 Timothy 6:20-21 to “turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.”
What if Christians led by example by doing what so many are longing for from our country’s leader and laws? Let’s sacrificially serve the homeless and less fortunate. Let’s adopt. Let’s be generous with our money. Business owners, let’s care for our employees. The onus is on us to obey God and love others! There is a God at work in the details. We do not need to fear.
When the next leader is elected, I will not despair. I will know God is, has been, and will continue to be at work. I will faithfully take heart and pray for our leaders.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”1 Timothy 2:1-4
Let us not be a barrier to others coming to the faith. Let political change begin with Christianity.