Baseline Weekly - Anxiety, Politics and the Kingdom of God
I’m anxious about something. I honestly find myself thinking about it often. I heard a wonderful sermon recently saying we should take our anxious thoughts and turn them into prayers (Thank you, Ken Zell). So, here’s my prayer:
O Lord, please do not allow the upcoming election to divide our church.
In my lifetime the political landscape has never been as polarized as it is for this next election. Both parties are stoking the fire by making statements like: “This is the most important election in the history of our country” or “The heart of our country is at stake." One thing I really love about Baseline is that we have a wide-ranging spectrum of beliefs – theological, social, and political. Some churches lean strongly to the left, while others to the right. Some are strongly conservative others staunchly liberal. Some bright blue, others are brilliantly red. Not so much at Baseline…we’re probably some shade of purple. I think there is great potential in this, but it also means that it’s very possible you are worshiping with others who think very differently than you do politically.
To help us navigate these next six weeks leading up to the election and beyond, I want to encourage us to put into place a few practices.
Remember that Jesus Christ is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. As a follower of Christ, you are a part of an Eternal Kingdom which supersedes any affiliation to a political party. In the revelation given to him on the Island of Patmos, John is told that Jesus Christ “is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev 1:5). We must trust that no matter which candidate or party prevails that God is still in charge. We are to grow our allegiance to Jesus, trust him more fully and pray for our leaders to humble themselves under God’s mighty hand regardless of whether we voted for them or not.
Live out the admonition in James 1:19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” Listen to others’ viewpoints regarding a candidate or a party’s platform. Realize that what you believe has come from years of experiences, conversations, and thought. Be open to listening for the kernel of truth which is in another point of view. Do not listen with a rebuttal already formed in your head. Choose your words carefully and speak in a way that has the possibility of building bridges of understanding (Especially when it comes to social media!). When you sense that you are growing angry in the conversation take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember point #1 – Jesus is the King of Kings. God is in charge. It is not up to you to change someone’s mind…and an angry response usually just causes a person to pull away and hold onto their position more tightly.
Pray Jesus’ prayer for us found in John 17:20-26 “… I pray… that all of them may be one,… that they may be one as we are one… May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Jesus prays that the church would experience unity even in the reality of diversity. He prays that unity will result in love for one another which drives the Church into the mission of letting the world know of God’s love for them. The question we need to ask ourselves is: Can we disagree politically and love unconditionally? The ability to love those who disagree with us politically is one of the great signs of a God-transformed life, makes us the practical answer to Jesus’ prayer, and is a great witness to an unbelieving world.
Finally, Vote with humility. It is one of the great privileges and responsibilities we have in our country. Prayerfully vote… realizing that Jesus is not a Democrat or a Republican. I like what Bryan Loritts has said, that when we go into the voting booth (or fill out our mail-in ballot) there should be a moment of healthy tension because you look at one party or candidate and like what they stand for, but then look at the other and realize that there are parts of what they stand for which make sense. As Christians we can never say, “All Christians must vote for this candidate” or “A Christian could never vote for that candidate.” Our unity is found in Jesus Christ and not in a candidate.
And remember, we follow a crucified Savior who actually won by losing. This is the counterintuitive nature of the gospel and an example of how upside-down the Kingdom of God really is. This can be hard for us to wrap our minds around because it is so opposite to our human understanding, but the reality is that death leads to life, and losing in the world is winning in the Kingdom. For Jesus, self-giving love took priority over pursuing political power. Yes, he “lost" in the “political power game” between the religious leaders and the Romans. He “lost” because he saw beyond the political realities of his day and saw a day when justice, righteousness, and dignity will reign…and ultimately His death on the cross won the battle for you and I and conquered all evil. Thanks be to God!
O Lord, may this upcoming election draw us to be a community that loves one another and seeks to share God’s love and hope with the world!