Holy War: The Church and Politics
We are once again entering the dark hole of American divisiveness that surrounds presidential campaigns. If you want to bring some fun to a conversation, especially in the church, start talking about politics. I don’t know who to blame but it is almost impossible to have a logical conversation about politics without it turning into an emotional debate with little regard for facts. I grew up loving politics and read many biographies about American presidents. Now I can hardly watch the nightly news because of the holy war that is taking place across our political landscape.
What saddens me most about this holy war is that it continues to have a negative effect on the mission of the church. The word “evangelical” is now synonymous with Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann instead of Billy Graham. Throughout the New Testament, Scripture writers implore their readers to remain united as the body of Christ. In the United States, politics is one of the most divisive issues in the church.
As Bill Hybels always says, “The local church is the hope of the world.” I still believe this deep in my heart but some Christians seem to act like our political system is the hope of the world. They might not say it that way, but they act like electing the right evangelical as president will make our nation great again. I wonder what would happen if evangelicals would transfer their political passion into the mission of their local church. I believe that the more energy and passion evangelicals put into politics, the lesser the impact of the church in the surrounding community.
So here is my challenge to those of us who get charged up and emotional about politics this time of year. When we are tempted to turn on Fox News or CNN and hear the latest charged rhetoric of either party, sit back and take a deep breath. Get out and serve in your community. Instead of speaking again Medicare or illegal immigrants, serve in your local food kitchen or homeless shelter. Turn off the TV and get to know your neighbors. Close the news magazine and start reading your Bible.
May we regain the belief that true change in our communities, nation and world does not come through our political system but through the individual actions of Christ followers who take the words of Jesus seriously and love unconditionally. Then the church will become the Church.