Over the last months, I have witnessed more of my brothers and sisters in Christ get seduced by politics. Some of them have pledged their allegiance to rhetoric of hate and false patriotism. Some of them have fought against other brothers and sisters, proclaiming that those who support the “fill-in-the-blank” political slant are supporting a movement to destroy the Church and life as we know it as Americans. Others have been led away from the Truth by putting their hope in politicians to rescue the nation from a decline into injustice, postChristianity, and destruction. More than anything, they have lost sight of the Gospel.
In my humanity, I’m grieving. I’m confused. I’m hopeless.
I worry about the state of the Church because I have witnessed brothers and sisters clinging to the idols of liberalism and conservatism alike. In December 2020, staunch Trump supporters and QAnon disciples participated in The Jericho March, a horrifying mimicry of “the Biblical story of the Israelite army ritually marching around the walled city of Jericho” (Dreher). In his article from The American Conservative, Rod Dreher outlines the March which included passionate oratory from Eric Metaxas, author of a well respected biography of martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, conflated speeches that combined Christianity with nationalism, and a disturbing use of a shofar (a horn used in ancient Jewish religious ceremonies) that was painted red, white, and blue and called the Trump Shofar by some in attendance.
Some Christians even defend this event and others like it because they feel justified in defending democracy and Christian values in America. They are sadly lost, misled, and deceived. They have heard “what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3). And they are looking for vindication from perceived injustices, but instead of seeking God, they are getting caught in the trap of conspiracy theories, nationalism, and conflated lies.
On the other side, things are just as dismal and frightening. Christians can be easily persuaded to support social causes because of the call in Scripture to defend the weak, fight against injustice, and to love our neighbors. We want to protect the plight of the orphan, we want to help the refuge, we want to uplift the outsiders. We are reminded in Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Sometimes this call to act justly and to love mercy leads to the idolatry of social causes. We may confuse social justice with the Gospel message and get lost in doing good works without making sure that these causes are inline with the Gospel and with the Holiness of God. This may not seem too bad to some; however, if we are excusing sinful behaviors in order to defend the outsider, then we have forgotten that God is a holy God. Politicizing moral issues and social justice can lead to excusing sin and condoning antiBiblical actions and mindsets. And sadly, minimizing the effects of sin can lead to the belief that since God loves all people, hell doesn’t exist. There are no consequences for sin and heaven is for everyone. This completely guts the Gospel message that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) but that through the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, all can be saved and redeemed from sin and an eternity apart from God.
Today, I call on my brothers and sisters to check their motives, to ask themselves some difficult questions. First, why are you supporting a specific political candidate or political party? We need to remember that all men and women are flawed and no political party is perfect. All men and women can be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the likeness of Jesus Christ. However, if a political candidate is speaking hate and division, then we need to consider their witness to the world, especially if they are claiming to be a follower of Christ. Hate and division have no place in the Kingdom of God. Love and unity are central to the Gospel message and must be the message that Christians around the world are proclaiming into a lost and dying world.
Second, what are you doing to advance the Gospel message? Are you spending time loving your neighbor, even your neighbor who is different from you, who your political party argues is your enemy? God does not see Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. God sees individual people who are made in God’s image. To God, each of us are precious in His sight. If we continue fighting against one another, instead of loving one another, we will let the real enemy win: the enemy who is seeking our complete and utter destruction for eternity.
Finally, where are you getting information that you believe and that you act upon? Are you spending your time scrolling through social media, hoping to find something that confirms your cognitive biases? Are you spending your time reaching into the dark web, hoping to find conspiracy theories that justify your feelings of hatred and fear of the “enemy” of your political party or political ideologies? Or are you spending your time, leaning into to the Father, looking to his Truth so that you can push aside all of the messages of division, politics, and temporary distractions?
In the end, I would rather be wrong about my own politics than to be wrong about the Gospel and how I love my neighbor. I would rather find out that the conspiracy theories were all correct than to destroy my witness in the world for Christ Jesus. If our political beliefs are more important to us than how we advance the Kingdom, then the enemy has already won.
Let us collectively repent for having hearts that are conflicted because of what we have seen in the news. Let us collectively repent for allowing ourselves to be distracted by political ideologies that are contrary to the Gospel. Let us collectively repent for spewing hate toward our neighbor, whoever our neighbor may be. Let us love one another so that the world may know Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.