This is an interesting era. In the next couple months all of us will be bombarded with a relentless stream of political advertising, media, and social media posts seeking to influence a decision we will make on the first Tuesday in November. This comes around every four years, and is familiar as an American citizen. Yet, in my opinion, this season is different. These issues always have a level of divisiveness and fervor, but the thermometer measuring our passions seems to rising to a considerably hotter temperature. As a pastor, the political season always poses a challenge. This year even more.
Religion and politics. These are the topics we are to avoid to maintain polite conversation, right? Well, what about religion addressing politics? This is the first of a series of blog posts I plan to write this Fall as we enter this season to address our posture as believers to this moment. I am writing these primarily as an Elder and the Teaching Pastor of Genesis Church with a sense of call to be a disciple maker of the people God has called me to shepherd. But whether you are part of Genesis or not, I hope you will read and even interact. I also want to state right up front that my goal here is not on any level to affect your vote, or even to interact with the current candidates and issues. Rather, my key purpose is to speak to people about what it means to follow Jesus and encourage them to find beauty in the reality that they serve the True and Better King in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, His Kingdom working in and through us will influence our approach to this political moment. So it is my hope that these posts will help us collectively to follow Jesus as Lord (King).
So, why do this? Why spend time writing and posting things that speak at things that are such hot topics? Why write things that can be misinterpreted if read through certain lenses? Why interact with this moment? Let me share a few reasons.
- Fear – In my interaction with people I am finding quite a bit of fear. This fear comes in several forms. It shows up in fear that our country is being torn apart. Fear that if this side wins or that side wins it will wreck things that people value and hold dear. Fear that all of this could lead to a level of strife and conflict not seen since the Civil War (I have heard people use this language to voice their fears). When we fear, the message of the Kingdom brings us great hope. The Biblical story that God is King, and His Kingdom was ushered in through the Messianic ministry of Jesus is a reminder that all other kingdoms and governments are actually under His sovereign purpose and care. God is sovereign and He accomplishes His purposes through the events that we call history. We have so many passages and sections of Scripture that were written for God’s people during times of great political fear (Isaiah 40, 46, the entire book of Daniel & Revelation with the visions of kingdoms rising and falling). The continual message for God’s people is that they are to remember they serve the ultimate and sovereign King, He is orchestrating the events of History including the institution of governments for His glory and purpose, and in the end, those who follow Christ will serve an eternal kingdom that cannot be thwarted. The message of the Kingdom is given to us to provide great hope when we have great fears.
 “Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
 remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ (ESV)
- Discipleship – Jesus called his disciples, spent three plus years investing in every area of their lives, and then sent them out with the mandate that they too make disciples. A disciple is a person who follows Jesus, whose life, values, and activities are shaped by Gospel. This impacts all of life, even our politics. My pastoral concern in this moment, which I have voiced a few times in our service, is that by and large Christians in churches are being discipled way more by politicians, pundits, cable news, and social media than they are by the church and the Scriptures. If we are to make disciples we have to wade into this moment and speak prophetically, as much as we can, from the Scriptures and for Christ. We must call those who claim Christ to faithfulness in the Gospel in all areas of life, even our political engagement. It is my hope that this series of posts will speak to disciples of the Lord Jesus in ways that causes us to evaluate our political involvement in light of our faith in Jesus, and push us toward greater faithfulness to Him.
- Division – The fault lines in our culture are massive and they are fairly clear. I could mention pretty much any issue and the people in a discussion could quickly define where each party stands, which would represent polar opposite positions. This has always been true, but in our culture at this time those divisions run deep. Social media has given platforms to say cruel and hateful things about those we disagree with without having to look them in the eye. Cancel culture does just that, gives permission to discount any person who disagrees and marginalize that voice. Recently I have read several articles (here’s one example) revealing the reality that these cultural fault lines are deeply impacting the church and threaten to divide us. The danger is that when this happens it wrecks the witness of the church. My intention in future blogs will not be about demonstrating the fault lines, rather to show that the Gospel always produces a people from various walks of life who would never agree on politics but have found unity in Christ. When people who would hate each other apart from Christ learn to love each other in Christ the glory of Jesus and His Kingdom is made visible to the unbelieving world.
- Idolatry – Political engagement is a good thing, as we seek to be salt and light in our culture as Kingdom people. But it is so easy to drift from engagement to idolatry, making a god out of issues or candidates. So many in our culture, and so many professing Christians have put way too much hope in political parties and candidates. Of course we should advocate for justice and righteousness, and we should vote our conscience. But we must also speak clearly against all idolatry, even political idolatry.
So how will we get there. Let me say it again. It is not my intention to influence your vote or even address the issues surrounding our political moment. My greater goal is to challenge us to faithfully love and follow Jesus as Lord as we live as citizens of this country. And it is my belief that in this moment we have to grow in compassion and love for our brothers and sisters who hold differing views of political issues. So the main way I will do this is by interacting with the concept of God’s Kingdom and Christ as King as found in Scripture and seek to show how this spoke into the political world of the Bible, specifically 1st Century Israel. What we will find is that the Gospels are incredibly political books and Jesus life and ministry angered people from every political group, yet at the same time, people from every political group found Christ as Lord and followed Him. Should be fun, hope you will read along.