If Christianity means loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself, then people of both political persuasions fall short of Christ’s central doctrine of sacrificial love.
No political party has the market cornered on Christian beliefs, and despite each side’s religious rhetoric, faith-based endorsements, and passionate attempts to secure Christian voters, neither has God’s best interests at heart.
Political parties are tasked with many things, but carrying out the Gospel isn’t one of them.
Yet Christians continue to fall into the sinful temptation of limiting the practice of their faith according to their political beliefs, and they’re often only willing to follow Jesus up to the point where it’s agreeable to their partisan ideologies.
Followers of Christ must realize that the Kingdom of Heaven will never be fully realized through worldly governments or carnal politics, but rather through the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. And according to the Bible, we can tell what the fruits of this type of Godly kingdom look like: joy, peace, happiness, self-control, charity, grace, forgiveness, justice, hope, and love.
Followers of Christ must realize that the Kingdom of Heaven will never be fully realized through worldly governments or carnal politics, but rather through the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
When Christians co-opt their faith by injecting political agendas, Jesus’ example of freedom is exchanged for control, his hope exchanged for fear, his love exchanged for hate, and his divinity exchanged for idolatry.
Christianity then becomes compromised by ideas, propagandas, and agendas that have little to do with Jesus and more to do with gaining dominance over our political and worldly enemies—and even our non-enemies, those the Bible refers to as our neighbors. When this happens, Christianity turns into something that looks nothing like the Christ it claims to worship. For example:
How did helping the poor become so politicized?
How did accepting the foreigner and outcast become so debatable?
How did providing aid to the poor become so objectionable?
How did welcoming refugees become so argumentative?
How did providing hope and assistance to immigrants become so divisive?
How did things like justice, equality, and charity become so contentious?
How did Christianity become so un-Christlike?
Simple, foundational truths that are central tenets of the Christian faith—treating others as you would like to be treated, loving your neighbor—suddenly become muddled and full of conflict. Why? Because of politics.
Christians can become so irrationally blinded by culture wars, debates, and their own opinions about hot-button issues that they often sacrifice the Gospel of Jesus. Instead of humbly seeking to follow the example of Christ, too many of us would rather remain faithful to our own political worldview.
Jesus was neither a Democrat nor Republican, and he was surprisingly detached from the political institutions and movements of his day. Jesus was arrested, put on trial, and ultimately tortured on a cross for refusing to submit to governing authorities. The Roman Empire, the ruling political system of Jesus’s time, legally killed Jesus—according to their established laws and bureaucratic policies—in one of the most humiliating and painful ways possible.
The earliest generations of Christians were similarly killed and martyred for refusing to forsake the Gospel for any type of political cause or authority—remaining faithful to Jesus, despite having to sacrifice literally everything.
Yes, Christians can be involved in politics, and yes, political systems can bring about good and just outcomes (which Christians should support), but our political allegiances should never come at the expense of shortchanging the Gospel of Christ, and they should never be detrimental to those made in the image of God (all of humanity). If you hold this view, you must realize how restrictive and prohibitive politics actually are to carrying out God’s will.
Our political allegiances should never come at the expense of shortchanging the Gospel of Christ.
This is why we should never allow our faith to become overshadowed by politicians, political systems, or the short-sighted motivations they represent. Because the way of Jesus is better than any political policy.
Christians are called to prioritize God over everything—elected officials, political parties, laws, and even our own self-interests. Doing this is often irrational and nearly always countercultural, but this is what it means to be a follower of Christ. God help us.
Stephen Mattson graduated from the Moody Bible Institute and is currently on staff at the University of Northwestern—St. Paul. You can follow him on Twitter @mikta.