August 13, 2019

It’s been an interesting week in our news. People are saying that the tone should be tuned down on the political front. That’s not a new thought to many of us—we have believed that for a long time. So, here’s a thought-provoking question: What should a Christ-follower’s attitude and approach be to disagreement with people over political views?

Often, we see people using Scriptures in an attempt to support or destroy a specific political point of view. They want to prove that a specific platform is the “Christian” one. However, no single platform will ever fully represent the teachings of Jesus. To be a Christian means, simply, to follow Jesus Christ. Each one of us does that to the best of our ability, guided by our interpretations of the words of Christ found in the Bible. The Bible, incidentally, doesn’t mention Democrats or Republicans, or Independents, but instead warns of the Pharisees. Today, to be a Pharisee means to be self-righteous, judgmental, and hypocritical as they were. Jesus warned against being pharisaical and said that the important thing was to seek God and His kingdom first in everything always. Today that translates into “Don’t buy into the rhetoric that insists you must vote a certain way if you are a Christian. Instead, ground yourself in the truth that we need to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness first. Always.”

Political talk radio and cable “news” are seeking ratings. They have to offer tantalizing tidbits to keep their following, whether those statements are factual or not. The more controversial they can be, the better. When media personalities announce that they are on a moral crusade, they are lying—to themselves first and then to the public. These personalities make themselves rich by gathering an almost cultic following, instilling fear and paranoia in their listeners. Unfortunately, we get caught up too easily in the frenzy of false facts, and we listen for the next scandalous or outrageous opinion. Probably all of us know people who live by the political talk shows, spending hours weekly listening to them spout their philosophies and opinions. If we give our favorite political ideologues more time than we give Jesus, we are following the wrong master. There are some unbiased, logical, and accurate news sources out there. But it’s up to you and me to be good stewards of information—to fact-check, take any ideology with a grain of salt, and make decisions based on facts rather than gossip, no matter how titillating that information may be.

Here’s another thought worthy of consideration. We live in an age of political spite. Even seemingly devout Christians have decided it’s okay to bash our nation’s leaders with reckless abandon. “I can’t stand our president/governor/senator, but . . .” or “I can’t wait to get those politicians (choose your party) out of office in the next election!” Or, “He’s not my president!” Yet these attitudes are directly opposed to God’s plan regarding our attitude toward our nation’s leaders.

Scripture tells us to pray for our governing leaders: I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4.)

And to respect those in authority: “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them and give respect and honor to those who are in authority (Romans 13:1-7).

What do you suppose that means? It seems pretty clear to me. When we mock our leaders on social media, the Holy Spirit is grieved. We should spend more time honoring our leaders and less time vilifying them. This doesn’t mean praying the President will be impeached; it doesn’t mean praying your candidate will win. God commands us to pray for our leaders—for their wisdom, for their hearts, and for them to be led by Him. We need to pray more than criticize, no matter who is in office.

Just so you know (don’t accuse me of being a wild-eyed Trump supporter because of this blog), I have believed and followed this credo for more than 25 years, as I try to sincerely follow how God says to live. In the last 25 years, we have had Presidents’ Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump—all vastly different men with different views. I agreed with some more than others, disagreed with some more than others, but I always prayed for them, respected them as my President, and refused to trash talk about them. Not because I am a loyal American, though I am. It’s because I am a Christ-follower.

No matter what the political climate is, we are not without hope. It’s easy to get caught in the emotions and controversies of the day, but the Word grounds us and points us back to God. “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save . . . Blessed are those whose . . . hope is in the Lord their God” Psalm 146:3, 5. “My hope is in You, Lord” Psalm 39:7.

Politics will never meet our needs. Politicians, no matter how good their motives, will never be our answer. Here is what I believe: The local church is the hope of the world, living and teaching the truth of Jesus Christ. What would happen if we would give our passion, time, and treasures to this? What if THIS got our highest and best energy?

The world and our Father would love to see this happen.