Tomorrow is an important day for the United States of America. It is also an important day for Christians. Elections consistently reveal where we place our identity, and they so often give way to footholds for division, bitterness, and hatred.
Recently, the American church, and its congregants alike, have fallen victim to becoming overly obsessed, consumed, and divided by politics. Christians are often fully equipped and eager to defend their political positions, yet incapable or hesitant to advocate for their own faith. They make their party affiliation painfully overt, but never shine even a dim light on the one whom they truly serve.
How can Christians balance their seemingly contradictory duties— we must be civically engaged, but simultaneously we are commanded to place our identities in Christ before any political party, proposition, or candidate. We must love our neighbors notwithstanding their interpretations of economic theory. However, our priorities have become distorted. We no longer view the world through the eyes of Christ, but rather through the charged and harsh words of news articles, and those who stand behind podiums.
C.S. Lewis in his highly engaging book, The Screwtape Letters, writes: if “meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to” someone “than prayers and sacraments and charity,” that person belongs to the devil. If political rants and diatribes are more important to you than proclaiming the word of God, the devil may be winning in your life. This notion is highly convicting, and one that no one is innocent of.
This stark reality implores us to examine the Bible so that we man glean wisdom and understanding about this not-so-new problem.
Paul writes in First Corinthians 1:10, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement.”
The church of Corinth had quarrels and conflicts amongst its members, wherein people were placing their self-worth and the value of their knowledge in their specific teachers rather than Christ. Paul confronted them by noting: “each one of you says, ‘I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’: or ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you…?”
Members of the Church of Corinth were concerned with who was teaching them, rather than that which was being taught. They gave their loyalty to a person, and in turn sacrificed the unity and harmony that should exist in the body of Christ.
Paul confidently asserts: “Christ is not divided.” Therefore, if Christians are the body of Christ, then we must also stray from division. In the book of Colossians, Paul expresses his prayer that the Church of Colossae be “knit together in love, to reach all the riches and full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.” The American church must strive to be concerted in love and unity. This does not imply that Christians should be politically homogeneous. It simply means that our unifying factor must always remain stronger than our points of division. That which unites us is our shared identity in Christ. When that truth becomes overshadowed by allegiances to certain people, ideas, or polices, the devil is winning . We do not exist to serve man, we are alive to serve the Creator of the universe.
So, when tomorrow rolls around, understand how you are called to act. Do not be apolitical— Christians do not get to sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else battle it out at the polls and on Facebook. Rather, adhere to a higher standard. We can remain unified because we share the priorities of peace, love, truth, and bearing the image of Christ. We vote with boldness— not because our future depends on it, but because the battle is already won, and our authority in heaven— the living God, is so much stronger than a filled-in bubble on a ballot.