The election is over. Thank the Lord. If I am a barometer of the sentiment of the people, we are all sick of political ads, hateful speak, and the general divisiveness that pervaded this election cycle. Truth be told, during this election, many people who profess faith in Christianity, being a Jesus follower (at the very least), acted very un-Christlike. It is in that note that I refer to an article from Relevant, a Christian Magazine/Website (special shout-out to my friend Stephanie Nixon who posted it to Facebook this morning.) You can find the article here. I encourage you to read it because I’m going focus the rest of my blog on the ideas that Bryan Roberts, the author of the article, talks about in his article.
7 Things Christians Need to Remember About Politics.
Number one: Both political parties go to Church
This one hits home for me. It resonates with me in part because at one time or another in my life I have been both a church-goer and have identified with the two parties. I myself have “crossed the aisle” with my own self. This idea is further instilled in me because of a book my grandfather wrote Doing Justice in a Purple Congregation. It tells of how a church can still to God’s work in this world even when the church is “purple” or contains both parties. I have used this book in papers before and it continues to effect my ministry because I know that wherever I go, nobody will agree on everything, even if people are in the same church.
There’s the old joke that there was an discussion between 3 Disciples, but there were 7 opinions in the room. We need to be able to cross political boundaries, and opinions, to continue to do God’s work in the world. We are the hands and feet, metaphorically of course, it is up to us. Let’s not let politics split our congregations.
Number two: Political talk radio and cable “news” shows only want ratings.
The first thing that jumps to mind is, “of course,” but many people forget that these people are getting paid. The way they get paid is through advertisers buying up spots on their shows. If their show is more watched, than they can charge the advertisers more. What makes people watch? Controversy. I think Roberts says it right when he says, “These personalities get rich by instilling fear and paranoia in their listeners.” We need to be able to sift through the rhetoric that is attempting to only gain ratings to find the actual news, and maybe the truth within that. If we can’t find it in a “news” program, maybe we should look somewhere else.
Number three: Those who argue over politics don’t love their country more than others.
I have always been told that I like to argue. It is just a part of who I am, but I am doing my best not to do it as much. In part because it breeds divisiveness, and also because it is usually unnecessary. While I don’t agree that anyone really should love their country, we can appreciate it, be thankful for where we live and to opportunities that we get because of it, we should never love a country. We are called to have a loving relationship with God and with neighbor. Roberts is correct that we need to be able to love all people, regardless of political stance, but I want to say that we need to be loving of people regardless of country of origin. If we started with the thought of love, maybe these arguments and hateful opinions I’m seeing on Facebook would stop.
Number four: Thinking your party’s platform is unflawed is a mistake.
It may be that I am just naive, but I have never heard someone say that their party’s platform is unflawed. This is probably because most people don’t agree fully with what the part they identify with believes. I think it’s interesting what Roberts says in the last line of this though, “We need to know when to change our views to meet a changing culture – and when to stand by them.” I am curious to know what views we should change, could it be that same-sex marriage is okay just as we came to know that interracial marriage is okay? I don’t think that is what he is arguing for, but it certainly could/should be in the discussion.
Number five: Scripture tells us to pray for governing leaders and to respect those in authority.
“Translation: if you’re mocking your governing leaders on Facebook, the Holy Spirit is grieved.” Apart from my belief, and many others, that Paul was writing in Romans for the Romans to respect those in authority because he thought the parousia, or second coming of Christ, was going to happen at any time, I cannot find anything wrong with praying for our leaders. I want them to be guided by a higher ethic. I want them to find illumination in the Sermon on the Mount. And showing respect to those in authority is not necessarily only about them being in a position in power. Showing respect to a person in authority should be done because they are a person. We should show respect to all persons, regardless of if they have power or not.
Number six: Don’t be paranoid.
“My country is going to Hell because _____ happened.” This is one of the most disheartening statements that I hear. Our country will continue whether we like it or not. It is going to end eventually, whether we like it or not. All of these things are pretty much beyond our control. Don’t think the end of the country hinges on one person, one election. Which leads to…
Number seven: Stop saying, “This is the most important election in the history of our nation.”
I think this is pretty self explanatory. We know the each election is important because it does impact our lives, but it is not the most important election in the history of the nation. The next election might be the most important for you, but then again, you weren’t around for the majority of elections. Just be happy that you get to have an election where there are two legitimate candidates that probably just want what’s best for the country even if it is not the most important election.
All of this is to say, that Christians need to remember that there is more to this world and our lives than politics. Yes we should participate, but if anyone should stand about the hateful rhetoric and uncivility, it should be us, because aren’t we supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves?