In case you haven't seen or heard, it is an election year and as such the perpetual mudslinging, political ads, and flyers are being relentlessly pushed into our faces. Surf the internet and the ads that target you are political. Open your mailbox and there are the candidates' faces plastered across endless postcards. Turn on the tv and watch the ads that support candidates and ones that tear apart all the others. The radio airs one political parties' advertisement and then immediately after the opponents. When does it end? Maybe I am just sensitive to this now that I live in a state that hosts a Caucasus and political candidates flock to. But when is enough, enough?
Now please hear me out. I love politics. I truly do. I believe every citizen has an inherent duty to vote in elections as this is how our country functions. It is how laws are passed as the candidates we support help to push laws forward. It is how we demonstrate our moral fortitude and resolve. I even love debating about politics. I may not be good at it, I don't always have the answers, and I know not everyone agrees with me, but I enjoy talking about it.
What I hate is how this time of year dictates almost everything that happens. We are fed constant spoonfuls of hate, name calling, mudslinging, and trivial backbiting, and that is only among the political candidates in the party we support. We are only in the primaries. But even more I hate what it does to the common people. To all of us.
Grab a handful of people and put them in a room. Challenge them to talk politics and their candidates without getting angry, walking out, or breaking into fisticuffs. It probably won't happen. Or better yet, scroll through your Facebook newsfeed and attempt to do so without becoming frustrated by the hundreds of political posts you see. This time of year turns people against each other and that's a problem.
I have seen families refuse to have conversations, friendships fractured, churches refrain from talking about anything dealing with politics, and countless people hurt from this time of year. Maybe instead of allowing our support of politicians to change us into someone who no one else wants to deal with, we should instead look to bring Jesus into the conversation? Instead of getting angry maybe we should look back on one of the best "campaign slogans" ever produced: WWJD. Instead of criticizing other candidates or those who support them maybe productive and calm dialogue would be better.
Oh and perhaps I should take this time to point out that Jesus wasn't a Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Socialist, Libertarian, or whatever else! Jesus didn't allow politics to sway Him. He didn't align with a political party. In fact Jesus brought people into His team of 12 whose politics were drastically different! He brought a Zealot who wanted to overthrow Rome. He had a tax-collector who worked for the Romans and robbed the poor. He had a poor fisherman who was part of the working class. He brought in people with religious backgrounds that were opposed to one another. You tell me what political party Jesus fell into? You can't!
One of the few times we see Jesus reference politics is when He tells those around Him to "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." Jesus was responding to a political question that was an attempt to trap Him so He could be arrested, but He did something radical within the moment, as only Jesus truly can. He flipped the coin on it's head and challenged common thinking by saying honor your government by obeying them (paying taxes) but also honor God by giving Him what is His (your life and everything you have). This may seem a little odd because if we give our government something how then can we give everything to God? The answer is that by obeying God's command and doing what He tells us, we are giving God everything! We have obeyed Him and as such have given Him our lives!
So what does this have to do with the political climate today? I simply want to challenge you to think about a few things:
- Who are you voting for and why?
- Does your candidate align with what Scripture is saying?
- Truly no one will ever perfectly align with God's Word because we are all broken and sinful, but have we chosen the best fit?
To all my politically active friends: I love you. Know I hear your heart and passion for this, and I know that you fight so hard for this because you believe it to be right. But look to Christ's example and see if you align with it. Are you doing this in love? I know I haven't been. Will you join me in pursuing this part of our year in a manner that Jesus would? Will you maybe pause from declaring your candidate's prowess, your party's smarts, and your political knowledge and instead get on your knees and ask God to allow for us to be His disciples in this world? Maybe, just maybe, what we need is less politics and more Christ.
Just some thoughts from someone who may or may not be a part of a political party, who supports a particular candidate, but is someone who loves Jesus and will do all he can to spread God's love this and every season of his life.