Christian Unity and Politics
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
(Philippians 2:1-2, ESV)
There is to be unity among Christians. In fact, according to Jesus, one of the cardinal signs of the authentic church is to be unity (John 17:21-22). However, Christians have allowed political affiliations and ideologies to trump theological considerations. Christian's, unfortunately have allowed to their alliances to political parties and conservative/liberal agendas to shape their commitments to Jesus Christ, as opposed to the commitment to Christ defining their political reality.
As I see candidates from different sides of the political spectrum seek out support for the Christian vote, I want to make the following observations:
1. There is a tendency to oversimplify political strategies and realities. The terms conservative and liberal in themselves are rediculous oversimplifications of any strategy. Each term is loaded with assumptions that are mostly erroneous.
2. There are very few unbiased sources of information. No matter where you get information, you must understand that the truth is often carefully and purposefully manipulated. For instance, USA Today reported 2 days ago that unemployment levels are at the lowest they have been in 5 years. Simultaneously, Fox News reported that more people who are unemployed are not counted in the unemployment stats. Both are true, but both are calculated to give a version of truth. Christians must be discerning.
3. Christians are not called to uniformity, but unity. Christians will not believe the same things politically even if we are untied by the essentials theologically. We are united to love God and one another. We are called to obey the commandments of Jesus Christ. How the commands are interpreted is where there needs to be real discussions within the church. That is the essence of discipleship.
4. Christians are called to be an alternative approach to the world's problems. Jesus was not a democrat or republican, but his teachings and leanings can be found in part, in both parties platforms. We must stop allowing the name of Jesus to be co-opted.
5. Christians must resist the temptation to secularize their politics. Secularizing is the process of reducing your faith to smaller and smaller realms of life. We see this as faith becomes more private, but not appropriate for public discourse. While there is a separation of religion and state (there is no official state religion thank goodness!), our individual and collective expressions of faith are social and political. Both Jesus and Paul would speak before kings and governors, and their adherents will do the same.
The cause of political involvement for Christians is much more complex that the labels we hear. I want to encourage you to first, abide in Jesus, and everything else will become more clearer. Do not allow current paradigms constrain you but allow yourself to be an expression of the Kingdom of God.
God bless you,
Pastor M Traylor