Politics and Christians

Over at The Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts, Tim Archer is inviting discussion on politics and Christian living. He writes:

In July, I was at a Christian workshop in Florida. Several people expressed to me their concern about the upcoming election. Concern is a mild word for some of them. It was closer to panic. I tried to remind them that God is still God, no matter the outcome, but they took little consolation … So how much time should Christians spend on politics? This current season has been going on for over a year. Two years from now it will be congressional elections. Then a year later the whole thing starts again. People say, “Oh, it’s only once every four years,” but I’m not convinced. Seems like the whole political process takes a lot more time than that.

I and others have responded to his post. Here is my response if you’re interested:

While I have to admit interest in this election as well as a preference for one candidate over the other, I do think it is unhealthy for Christians to become overly involved in politics.

First, our kingdom is one not of this world. It is a spiritual kingdom with no place for partisan lines because God is our last and final authority in all things. In John 18:36, Jesus tells his apostles that His kingdom is not a worldly one, and, for that reason, His servants should not try to defend Him by force. In John 14:30, Jesus states that the prince of this world has nothing to do with Him, and Romans 12:2 entreats us not to be conformed to this world. To become entrenched in politics is to become entrenched in this world and lose trust in our spiritual kingdom.

Second, politics encourages behavior that is firmly not Christ-like from Christians. I Timothy 5:22 wars us not to cooperate with the sin of another, but look at how quickly we will spread lies about a candidate we don’t like (particularly through mass-forwarded emails). “Obama is a Muslim! We don’t know where he was born! He was sworn in on the Koran! Etc.” We become like the example in James 3:9-12 where we allow blessings and curses to flow from the same mouth. We set aside our Christianity to condemn another with lies and half-truths.

Finally, partisan politics creates carnal divisions. Neither strong political party is completely inline with God’s word – not even close. Still, we traditionally support one almost as if it is God’s Chosen Party, and we look down upon those who disagree. I Corinthians 3:3-4 rhetorically asks if it is not carnal to say, “I am of Paul or I am of Apollos,” asking who these men are but servants of God. Who is McCain? Who is Obama? Both are mortal men who have traded their souls for the power of this world. How much more carnal is it to follow them? Yet, at times, I feel many Christians prioritize being a good Republican over being a good follower of Christ.

I could go on about how we try to make our enemies God’s enemies (as opposed to the reverse), or how we try to turn secular issues into spiritual issues in the name of politics, but I’ll finish with this. In terms of the kings of Israel, we often say, “So goes the king, so goes the people,” and we try to apply this to modern politics. However, this is backwards in our democracy. Today, it would be more accurate to say, “So goes the people, so goes our leadership.”

Instead of obsessing over electing “godly” (and I use that term very loosely) candidates every four-to-eight years, our focus should be on ministering to and instilling Christ-like values in the people. Only when our populace seeks Christ will our leadership follow suit.

Be sure to visit Tim’s site if you would like to join the conversation.

Update: Mr. Archer is continuing some good discussion on this issue. Here are some links to more of his posts, be sure to keep checking back with his blog for more.