Christianity is Political (Just Not the Way We Think It Is)

Monday, August 26, 2019

I am very careful about writing or posting about politics. Not because I have no political opinions or convictions, but because I take my role as a leader in the Church seriously.

I strongly believe that when Christians become partisans they become puppets and tools, thus forfeiting their prophetic calling.

At the same time, deep concern and horror for the American church have been raging within me. The words keep bubbling up with no place to go. The words of Jeremiah the prophet come to mind: "If I say, 'I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,' then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot" (Jeremiah 20:9).

Friends, I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot any longer.

Therefore, please hear me when I say this: I have to talk about politics. Specifically, I have to talk about American Christianity's obsession with President Trump, not because he's Republican or conservative, but because he's currently in power, 81% of white evangelicals voted for him, and this is the political reality we live in right now.

Let's name this reality: in our quest to assuage our fears over not being the dominant religious and cultural power, we as American Christians are desperate for some sort of political power. 

Ever since the days of the early church, there has been a strong temptation to mingle the politics of the Kingdom with the politics of the Empire. And today we are so desperate to make America a "Christian nation" that we as a people group have compromised not only our prophetic calling - we have also compromised our worship of the One True God.

I believe that many of the 81% didn't just vote for a single issue; I believe that many of them sub-consciously or even consciously voted to "win back" an Americanized version of Christianity. It wasn't just a political vote - it was a religious vote. And we continue to vote religiously every time we remain silent, make excuses, or justify the resulting un-Christlike policies and rhetoric.

Do you hear me, American church?

We've exchanged the authenticity of our Christian faith for the gain of political power.

It's the worst trade I can think of, akin to Esau trading his birthright for a single bowl of stew.

We've seem to have completely forgotten that Christianity is extremely political - only not in the way we think it is.

When we think about politics and start mixing our faith into it, we become extremely dualistic. We're either one or the other. Jesus is either on the side of the Republicans or he's on the side of the Democrats. You either support caring for the pregnant teenager and her unborn baby or you support caring for undocumented children at the border. I am reminded of the messenger that God sent to Joshua. Joshua posed the question that seems to be on many American Christians minds today: "Are you for us or for our enemies?”

"Neither," the messenger responds (Joshua 5:13-14).

Christianity is political in that it envisions an entirely different reality that is "neither," and this reality challenges the politics of the world. When we confess that Jesus is Lord, we are confessing that Caesar is decidedly not lord.

Because Jesus is Lord, it means that we as the Church bow to no one else. Because Jesus is the Living One, it means that no one else is the Chosen One, no matter how explicitly or implicitly political powers may claim to be (and they all do, Republican and Democrat alike).

We as God's people are not called to be a political power or a national identity; we are called to be the Church, the Bride of Christ. When we get in bed with Babylon, we are no longer faithfully following the Lamb.

Last year, Trump warned Christians that they were “one election away from losing everything” if the GOP lost. If this is true, then we're confusing the kingdoms of this world with the kingdom of God.

We don't lose everything if a preferred political party loses. We lose everything when our faith depends upon the outcome of an election. 

We lose everything when we preach another gospel.

And I fear that the American church is presently preaching the gospel of the Empire.

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