For many of us the conversations around how to deal with COVID, policy, politics, faith, and the future have led to relational divides in families, churches, and our other relationships. Many of us find ourselves feeling scared of what comes next.
What is happening in Washington, DC, today, and in recent elections, (and we haven’t really started the campaigning for the mid-term Congressional elections in 2022,) still cause divisions and anxieties about the future. All these things can steal our joy and muddy our testimonies.
While the fallout is real, our faith compels us to strive towards unity even amid an increasingly divided world.
Ephesians 4:2-6 NIV Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (emphasis mine)
Even as we can find many ways that we disagree about policy, decision making, personalities, and politics, we are still charged with the task of “keeping the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
As we move forward, one way to find unity in a world full of division is to follow
principles we find in the Gospel.
1. Our Church Family Matters More Than Our Political Parties
When we see so many controversial and opposite opinions circulating in our world, we can begin to feel that there is no way we can remain in a community with people who view policy and politics differently than ourselves.
Jesus reminds us that it is not our similarity in points-of-view and political affiliation that binds us together as a church, and it’s not social status that connects us.
Once Jesus' mother and brothers called for Him when He was ministering to a crowd. Here was His response.
Matthew 12:46-50 NIV While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
That may sound harsh and uncaring to his family, but he was trying to teach his followers an important lesson. The lesson is that when we become Jesus followers, our first allegiance is to the kingdom of God and as believers, our family includes all Christians.
Family, both natural and spiritual is not always pretty, and they aren’t always people you would choose, but like it or not they are family for life.
We may not always be proud of every part of our Christian family. There may be people that like spending more time with than others but nonetheless, these are our family. We and they are part of the body of Christ. We may all be different but all united by our shared love for Christ!
Remember, when we face disagreement about politics and policy, then our first alliance is to our Father in heaven and those who do his will. Our priority is first to be the Church... which God names as his bride and everything else is secondary.
This reality should cause us to approach each other with more grace because no matter our political the same mission which is to love and serve God and our neighbors.
Matthew 22:35-40 NIV One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
We Can’t Seek to Bring the Kingdom to Earth Without the King
Matthew 6:33 NIV But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
There are many ways we can seek God’s kingdom through our public service, political participation, and by engaging in civil discourse. Each other these parts of our society are important. However, when sometimes things don’t go the way we believe is best, we can still seek first the kingdom of God.
We have a tendency as believers throughout the political spectrum, to become preoccupied with finding ways to establish what we think is the Kingdom of God here on Earth.
We try to do this only through politics and policy, but along the way we can forget to pursue the King and the Kingdom.
We must seek the King first to see his kingdom established on Earth as it is in Heaven.
This is what it looks like to seek the King.
- Read His Word
Joshua 1:8 NIV Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
- Prayer and fasting
Joel 1:14 NIV Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.
Matthew 28:19-20 NIV Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- Share the gospel
Romans 1:16-17 NIV For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
- Take care of those with the least
Matthew 25:40 NIV “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
We also need to ask ourselves some tough questions to determine if our priorities are properly aligned.
- Behind all the political evangelism that is happening in the evangelical church, what is guiding our hearts?
- Is being known as a “voting block” really what the church should be known best for in the mainstream media?
- Do your friends both in-person and online know more about your political views when they do your faith?
- Which would those who know you say is most important to you: serving Jesus or your favored policy becoming enacted as law?
When we seek Jesus first, then we can be encouraged because matter what happens politically, we know that nothing can separate us from his love, and he is working even when we don’t see it.
Romans 8:31-39 NIV What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2. God Can Work through Us No Matter Who Is Politically in Charge
Fear would want us to believe that when we lose the vote, we lose the country and consequently we lose hope.
This idea is not Biblical.
Psalms 20:7-9 NIV Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!
Remember Christians trust in God, not in science, politicians, or anything else. Yes, those things matter but they don’t have the final word because ultimately it is God that holds our world and future together.
You may feel anxious that God is losing when your candidate doesn’t win an election, as I have said over and over be reminded that God can and will work no matter who is in any office, and He can work through you. Through your ability to pursue justice, reconciliation, to save lives, to grow the economy, to show compassion, how you vote is only part of the big picture.
God changes lives through changed people.
If we want to see God’s kingdom on Earth, if we care about unborn babies, if we want to end homelessness, or whatever issue that gets you fired up, we can make the most difference when we live our lives in service to God and others.
What if evangelicals became people known for what they are for more than what they are against?
What if we started moving past online posts and angry conversations and began to be boots on the ground giving our lives to those who are lost and hurting in our world?
What if we were known less as a “voting block” and more as a “doing block”?
What if the church ended abortion by being such a refuge to every under resourced, scared Mom that they felt capable of having their child and knew there was an adoptive parent waiting if they needed them?
Rather than being discouraged, let’s apply our political passion to loving this world in the same way that Jesus loves us.
3. Peace Can Be Found in Jesus, and Jesus Only
John 16:33 NIV “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus does not want us to live in constant fear and anxiety.
It is easy to read the headlines and let panic draw you to shouting your side out into the world a little louder and with a little more force.
We serve a God who works through changing hearts and capturing us through his love, not through coercion or force. The most effective thing we can do when we get anxious is to pray a little louder.
Let God hear our hearts and ask him to have mercy. Follow His lead and resist the temptation to let fear turn us into brash and extreme people.
Luke 6:27-31 NIV “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Stay grounded in the truth that God is our peace, and our provision. He gives us the strength to love those we see as our enemies. Trust God alone. Our mission is to seek God first.