Another election year is right around the corner, and if you are like me, you may be dreading all the drama and unrest that seem to have become commonplace in our American society. Sadly politics and faith have made a bed together in our country, tainting the reputation of the church and leaving Christ’s followers confused about what the goal of our faith truly is.
As we think about how we talk, think, and engage with the political sphere as believers, we need to keep some things in mind: Where does our hope come from? And what are we trying to gain through our faith?
Where Does Our Hope Come From?
When we remember that our hope comes from the Lord alone, we can engage with those who see the world differently than us when it comes to policy with compassion. Those across the aisle are souls that God created and need our care. We need to trust that God has a plan for all of us, no matter our differences, and treat each person with respect. This applies to what we post online, how we engage in conversations, and what we preach in our churches. Maintaining a humble and respectful posture helps to avoid dehumanizing those who hold different worldviews.
What Are We Trying to Gain Through Our Faith?
The next question, which asks, “What are we trying to gain through our faith?” is so vital. The American church needs to have a come to Jesus meeting, quite literally, when it comes to politics. Our faith is not about gaining worldly power, no matter how noble the cause. Our faith is a relational religion that calls us to know Jesus and to follow him. We share his love, his truth, compassion, and care. Many of us have confused knowing Jesus with a mandate to win over the masses to a political tribe. That’s idolatry, and it stinks. Thankfully, God does not put that weight on our shoulders. He tells us that while others trust in horses (or worldly powers), we can trust in him (Psalm 20:7).
This question can apply to more than politics. Are we using our faith to sell something? A product? An idea? Are we wielding our faith to try to control others around us? Is our ministry platform really a quest for notoriety? Fame? Followers? How easy it is to confuse a holy passion with an idolatrous conquest for something more for ourselves. The reality of our faith, no matter if we live a life of great influence or quiet simpleness, is that we are called to obedience to the lover of our soul. It’s not about success. Whatever success we may enjoy in the land of the living is a way for us to give glory to him who is able!
Focus on Jesus and Not the News
My prayer for the church is that as we start the long, treacherous road toward an election year, we spend more time focused on Jesus than we do on the news. Let’s not let the newest outrage or quick memes derail us from our holy calling to follow him. We need to take time to listen to others who are hurting, offer them comfort, and remind them that they can stop fretting over the future because they can trust the one who holds each of our days in his hands. He promises that no matter what, he is working for our good (Romans 8:28).
It’s time to lay down our harsh megaphones, and instead, it’s time to humble ourselves and pray that God will heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). He is the only one with the power, wisdom, and strength to restore the places where our world has broken. It’s time to get in his word and ask for wisdom when it’s time to go to the polls rather than let our Facebook friends tell us what to think. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us in this election year.
Our churches need to be a refuge for all people, a place that leads the lost to their Savior. We can care about policy, but it is never our God. We can have political beliefs, but they never are more important than the Gospel. We can disagree with others, but our words always need to be full of love.
It’s Time to Pull Out of the Culture War and Lean into True Religion
Following Jesus has always come at a cost. The first followers all gave their lives as martyrs for their beliefs. As history has progressed, believers have endured persecution in many forms. The goal of the Christian church is not to make being a Christ follower easy. We need to rethink this notion of a culture war. Is it biblical? Has culture ever been the place where God shines?
We need to pull out of the war and lean into true religion. James 1:27 tells us, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” If we all got busy loving the unlovable, seeing the brokenhearted, and giving ourselves up for the sake of the least of these, so many of the struggles we see in our world would dissipate.
There is much for us to do in response to our faith. We are to pray without ceasing, worship our Creator, seek out wisdom and knowledge, walk by faith, care for those in need, and share our love with others. This is how we live out our political beliefs, as those who love Jesus first, and then happen to live in a country, that is not our home, and vote when the time comes.
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Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God’s Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
Read the full devotional here:
A Prayer during National Unrest