Holding On To Politics But Letting Go of God

presidential-election-1336480_1280Let’s be honest – it’s easy for Americans to get caught up in the political furor of the presidential race. I don’t know the exact number but I think I remember hearing somewhere that more Americans than ever are turning out for primaries and rallies. People are HEAVILY invested in this race. And this is true on both sides of the aisle.

But Christians are too invested.

Yes, I said it. Christians care SO much about this presidential election that they are letting go of God. Of course they don’t admit it.

Heck, they don’t even recognize it.

They will claim that they believe the way they do BECAUSE of their faith. Funny enough, people on all sides of any issue make the exact same claim. But I don’t think that faith is driving the Christian fervor. Not really. It’s not about spirituality. It’s not about the Gospel. It’s about a superficial cultural religion – not real Christianity. Look at the words of the Apostle Paul:

bible-1031288_1920If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:1-17)

Let’s break it down:

  • Our priority is to FORCE God’s kingdom onto the nation. Where we are instructed to set our minds above, we choose to set our minds to November and re-creating a theocracy (which we never were, by the way – this was never God’s nation, and we were never God’s people “called by His name).
  • We revel in those things we are told to put away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk. Our candidates intentionally stir up these passions to rally us to their cause. This is not the Christian way. It’s political, sure, but not Christian.
  • Rather than seeing the unity of humanity in Christ, we highlight the differences between us. Now more than ever we hear language of separation – language that creates an “us Vs. them” mentality. This is not right.
  • We refuse to put on the attributes to which we are called: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and forgiveness.

If these are the things that Christians are supposed to focus on, to cut out of our lives, and to put into our lives, why are we completely ignoring God’s word?

My guess? It’s because we’re not really Christian. We’re social Christians. We believe in a God-like being who kind of cosmically started things, but we’re not ACTUAL Christians where we’d allow God to tell us that our behavior is atrocious and that it’s time to change.

This is not me advocating for not voting. As citizens we have a responsibility to vote. Even the Apostle Paul knew how to use his Roman citizenship to accomplish his purposes. But Paul’s focus was not on being Roman. His focus was Jesus.

We’ve lost our focus on Jesus. We’re social Christians but not actual Christians. When God wants to change us we say, “Forget that!” We’d rather change the world around us. It’s time to walk away from setting our sights (and our hopes) on the government.

It’s time to refocus on Jesus.

On the Campaign Trail With Jesus

usa-806576_1920Have you been following the debates and primaries around the nation? I have – like a nut. While I don’t promote any single candidate, I do very much care to see what happens and follow the process closely.

Have you noticed what happens after the results of every primary? What does the winner do? He throws a big party. Usually there’s a speech involved. What does the crowd do? They go BANANAS. The cheering, screaming, and chanting is something else. But in the midst of all the chaos we need to be asking ourselves three questions:

1) Are we following the right guy?
2) Are we following for the right reasons?

3) Are we willing to live with the consequences of following this guy?

This isn’t new to our political era. The scene has been the same throughout human history. From the beginning of time, we cheer and roar when our guy wins and comes out to celebrate. This is EXACTLY the scene we have at Jesus’s triumphal entry, the time we call Palm Sunday.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

The scene is an identical scene – a carbon copy – of the triumphal entry from many years before when the Maccabees defended Israel and defeated their enemy. And any Jew who knew his history COULDN’T have missed the parallels with Jesus’s entry. It’s no wonder people were going nuts.

The new Messiah was riding in the same way Jewish victors had in the past. In a nation occupied by Rome, the huge crowds saw a geo-political hero who was coming to set Israel free from Roman oppression. They had question 1 right – they were following the right guy (the Messiah) but they missed question 2 – they were NOT following for the right reasons.

humble-732566_1920They wanted a new political leader. They wanted to make Israel great again. They thought Jesus was the guy to make that happen. But their reasons for following were not Jesus’s reasons for showing up. Jesus wasn’t about geo-political power. He has NEVER been about geo-political power. Jesus is far too humble to care about such nonsense. In fact, when other leaders would march into town for their victory parade on a mighty steed, Jesus comes in riding on a donkey. Even in victory he is the epitome of humility.

When we make the decision to follow Jesus and understand the right reasons (vs. the wrong reasons) for following, we’re then forced to come to terms with question 3 – are we willing to face the consequences of following Him? It’s not an easy road. In fact, Jesus promised that in this world we WILL have troubles. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that Christianity is the easy way out. But even when we go through hard times we have a God who walks alongside us to comfort and care for us. The road following Christ may not be easy, but the rewards are eternally immeasurable.

Are you following the right person?
Are you following for the right reasons?
Are you willing to face the consequences of following?

How Christians REALLY Feel About Donald Trump

This election cycle has been something else, I’ll give you that. It has looked more like reality tv than a political race. Indeed, the last Republican debate seemed more like a wild west shootout, with the exception that the gunslingers used angry words in place of six-shooters.

And through the smoke and chaos of the OK Corral (or the cause of it?) emerges one candidate who has consumed the political landscape.

donald-duck-973226_1920The Donald.

No, this post won’t be an evaluation or critique of the man and his policies. Rather, I’d like to look at how Christians feel about him and respond to him and to his message. So, doing what I like to do, I took to social media to ask a simple question:

As a Christian Republican, if Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee:

a) I will vote Trump
b) I will vote Democrat
c) I will not vote at all

The results of roughly 130 people (yes, yes, I’m not some big-time pollster) have been counted and tallied – there are not more hanging chads to argue about. This was the basic breakdown.

~ 41% said they would vote for Trump.
~ 20% said they would vote Democrat.
~ 39% said they would not vote at all.

Of course, Facebook responders also responded with several lengthy dissertations on why Conservatives are God’s chosen people. And other responders had lengthy dissertations on why Trump is the devil incarnate. What it really comes down to is recognizing that there is no monolithic Christian perspective when it comes to the presidential candidates.

I know fervent Christians who will be voting for The Donald.
I know fervent Christians who will be voting for other Republicans.
I know fervent Christians who will be voting for Bernie Sanders.

I haven’t met any fervent Christians who claim Hillary, so if you’re out there, drop me a line and let’s chat – you must exist somewhere in the Cosmos, and I’d like to hear your perspective.

white-house-451544_1920The point is this: though we have a say in electing our government officials (which is more than many Christians through history could say), a lot of us are going to not have our candidate of choice be the next leader.

And that’s okay. Or it should be.

Ultimately it comes down to trusting God to manage the affairs of the world no matter what human is running the show. In an era of the Roman Empire, where Christians were a persecuted minority, the Apostle Paul wrote:

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:2-4)

If Paul can urge Christians on to good conduct in spite of the authority at the helm of the government, should we do any less? Sometimes we act as if we, as American Christians, are above the biblical call behave decently even towards those with whom we radically disagree. We treat political opposition in a vile manner. It’s like the presidential candidates who pretend to be God-fearing evangelicals in order to win the evangelical vote yet are horrible to each other on the debate stage, acting in ways that do NOT honor Christ.

This isn’t supposed to be who we are. Our politics are not supposed to trump (low-case “t”) our faith. We can rise above the political muck and mire and still treat people decently. We don’t have to name-call. We don’t have to slander. We don’t have to rail against people.

We can live out a Christ-like faith in a God who is in control of human history, even when things seem dark and desperate. At least, that’s how I interpret WWJD.

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How about you? Did you vote in our poll? How do you respond to the candidates?