Engaging in Politics Without Losing Your Soul

Happy EasterOften, being a Christian comes into conflict with blogging; especially blogging in the political realm. My aim, as always, is to be a Christian first, and everything else second, third, fourth… Part of the nature of being human is that this isn’t always easy to live a Christian life. It takes constant effort. Truth be told, the Corinthians passage, in the upper right of this blog, is not for readers, it is for me. I must constantly remind myself to be on my guard, stand firm in my faith, be a man of courage, be strong and do everything in love.

From time to time I get asked how I come up with things to write about. Well let me expose another truth; there is no shortage of ideas. I have stacks of notes and dozens of drafts of post that will never be. Because, perhaps the biggest struggle in being a Christian blogger is determining what not to write. I could increase traffic with sensationalism and gossip. But for what purpose; to feed my pride?

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
(Mark 8:36 KJV)

That one scripture weighs heavy on the mind of this blogger. It is the one that makes me question my motivation for writing any particular post. It is what helps me to determine what not to write. So, imagine my delight when I opened an email from Andrew Jackson of SmartChristian.com and found his teaching newsletter, also based on Mark 8:36, and also about this exact struggle. Andrew Jackson also posted this on RedBlueChristian.com and after contacting him last night, he has allowed me to also post it here. Based on scripture, I believe his guidelines would serve all Christians, not just bloggers.

HOW TO ENGAGE IN POLITICS WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SOUL

by Andrew Jackson.

I titled this post based on Jesus’ statement found in Mark 8:36, What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” The reason that I chose this convicting passage is because over the years I have watched many Christians who became zealously active in partisan politics actually “lose their souls.”

That is, they lost their unique public witness as a Christian; they began to act contrary to the character of Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit; and they became agents of division within the church itself.

Below I offer 10 biblical guidelines on how Christians can engage in politics without “losing their souls.”

  1. Christians must never allow ourselves to equate the biblical Kingdom of God with any human political party or nation (John 18:36; Isaiah 9:7; Matthew 6:33, Philippians 3:20, Revelation 11:15). As Christians we must be diligent in maintaining and perserving the distinctiveness between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world. We must never fuse the two. The great “utopian illusion” that easily enters our politics is that peace, harmony, and prosperity for all can be brought about in the world through human political means.
  2. Christians must never allow ourselves to elevate a specific politician to a messianic or savior status (1 Peter 3:15). In our entertainment and celebrity culture, it is becoming more common for people to infuse politicians with almost a messianic or savior status. In other words, people begin to believe a politician’s extraordinary promises and that they actually can single-handedly produce almost supernatural social results. As Christians, we have one Lord, and we must resist all attempts to exalt any human politician to unrealistic heights.
  3. Christians must not just vote, but more importantly, we must pray for our government and the leaders of all political parties (Matthew 5:44, 1 Timothy 2:1-2). In our polarized political society, many Christians are tempted to bless the politician or political party they support, and curse the other one they don’t. How unbiblical! The Bible is clear, we are to pray for all political and government leaders, even our political enemies.
  4. Christians must always remember that our ultimate security is in Christ and in the unshakeable kingdom of God, no matter what presidential candidate or party wins (Hebrews 12:26-29). One of the dangers that many Christians seem to often fall into is that we begin to elevate the outcome of presidential elections to an apocalyptic status. In other words, if our presidential candidate or party does not win, we begin to see it as the end of the world. This is what I call the “Y2K complex.” When we allow ourselves to understand politics in apocalyptic terms, we at the same time express an unbelief in the sovereignty and Lordship of God over his creation and human history. Yes, elections have real consequences for people, but in the larger scheme of history, don’t worry, no matter who becomes our president, God is in contril and will take care of things.
  5. Christians must never allow ourselves to bring the divisiveness and polarization of political parties into the church, the family of God (Romans 16:17, 1 Corinthians 1:11-12). We cannot allow partisan politics to divide the body of Christ. Invidual Christians have freedom of conscience before God and the Bible, and as a result, we must accept the fact that there will be diversity of political opinions in the church. We must never allow diverse political perspectives cause conflict and divisions in the church.
  6. Christians must never allow ourselves to demonize or dehumaize another person – no matter what politician it is – because every single human has been created in the image of God (Colossians 3:8, Matthew 7:1, James 4:12). Christians must not engage in demeaning and judging other people, no matter whether we agree with them politically or not.
  7. Christians must never engage in angry confrontational arguments, instead of being open to learn through civil debate and dialogue (James 1:20, Philippians 2:14-16, 2 Timothy 2:14). When we interact with other people with hard-core dogmatic positions, we demonstrate an ugly pride that demeans the character of Christ. As Christians we must humble ourselves, understand that as humans we are limited in our understanding, and that we all can learn more about the very complex issues that face our nation. Christians must always engage in politics through a path of reason and civility.
  8. Christians must never allow ourselves to become so intertwined so closely with one political party that we forfeit our independent identity as followers of Christ. When we do, we lose the prophetic voice to speak and clarify biblical truth to all politicians and political parties (1 Timothy 3:15, Ephesians 4:15, Romans 3:4).
  9. Christians must never allow ourselves to engage in partisan politics by supporting divisiveness between races, between male and female, between rich and poor, and between the young and old (Matthew 5:9, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Electoral politics is all about dividing society into specific voting blocks. And as a result, politics usually divides our society, instead of uniting it. Christians must always function as peacemakers and reconcilers in the public square, and resist every temptation to join the political tactics of dividing people for political gain.
  10. Christians must not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of simply cursing the darkness through negativity, instead of constructively engaging our world as perserving salt and illuminating light (Matthew 5:13-16). The cultural and missional mandate of kingdom Christians requires us to stop cursing the darkness and start lighting more candles that reflects God’s truth, compassion, and love.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Koshyk

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