The political juggernauts are in full swing today. Today is the day where 10 states will cast their votes in the GOP primary to see who will be the next candidate for the presidency of the United States. You never know what issues will sway the votes of the undecided, independent, or mass electorate that have made their minds up from the beginning.
I have always enjoyed politics, government, and US history. I have always been of the belief that those who do not know the past are doomed to repeat it. Doomed might not be the most accurate word, simply because not all of the decisions of the past are negative. In the culture of 24 hour media, the history of the candidates is widely known, dissected, and replayed over and over for the electorate to decide if the replay is agreeable or disagreeable. What do we look for in a candidate? This answer is about as varied as the amount of people you ask.
This is true also for Christians throughout the United States. Now for those who are expecting me to create a list for Christians to review and think about, you will be disappointed. I am neither naive enough, nor proud enough to think that my list should dictate your thoughts. I am also aware that when it comes to politics, people have a way of making up their minds way before entering a discussion. Instead, I want to give you food for thought as you engage the political spectrum as Christians.
In their 2007 book, UnChristian, authors David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (from Barna Research) tackle the subject of what the perception of “outsiders” to the Christian faith think about evangelical Christians. In their research, many topics came up to the forefront, one finding being that Christians are “too political”. The perception:
“Christians are primarily motivated by a political agenda and promote right-wing politics.”
Before everyone jumps off the ledge and begins the attack, the research shows that “outsiders” do not believe that Christians don’t have a right or responsibility to be active in politics. In fact, “Many outsiders clarified that they believe Christians have a right (even an obligation) to pursue political involvement, but they disagree with our methods and our attitudes.”
I think that this is an important issue to think about as Christians. Everything we do must come back to the purpose of Christianity. The purpose of Christianity is not to win elections, but win souls to Christ. What has happened in American Christian culture is that “American Christians” have become political “tools–at the expense of their own image and message.” In other words, to outsiders, the message of Christ has gotten lost in the political process.
Christians have mistakenly sold the power of the Holy Spirit to effect the world around them, and have bought into the lie that legislative power is the way to change culture. Legislative authority and laws are, in essences, the rules that have been needed because people have lost the spiritual soul that God has given. Outside laws do not change the inside spirit. Christianity is about people, the souls, the lives that walk in and out of our businesses, schools, and homes. We must live out the words, “be the change that we wish to see in the world.”
In politics, finding problems is the easiest thing in the world to do. Christians must be the ones finding solutions. We must get away from be enamored with the flash of political verbiage, political promises, and political expectations. ”We must realize that our political activism, if expressed in an unChristian manner, prevents a new generation from seeing Christ.”
Christians must be politically involved, but we must not forget the purpose of the Christian faith. ”It is a huge mistake to become married to an ideology, because the greatest enemy of the gospel is ideology. Ideology is a man-made format of how the world ought to work, and Christians instead believe in the revealed truth of Scripture.”
It is my belief that if Christians want to actually see the soul revolution in the United States today, it will not start with impacting politics…it will start with impacting people. It starts by coming up with Biblical solutions to our worlds problems. We must realize that our personal influence with our families, friends and co-workers have more power and impact than a single vote.
Yes, engage in the political process. Go and vote. But don’t forget about the purpose of the Christian faith; it is not politics, but rather loving God and loving others. Lets have our attitudes reflect this when we engage people in the political system.