Elections are a bit like holidays. Some people hate them and some people love them.
This is just as true inside the church as it is anywhere else.
As fate would have it, we are only days away from another election. That means this Sunday could be the time our conflicting views about elections become most obvious.
One group cares deeply about what’s going on in government and public policy. They believe that if we neglect to influence the culture for good, it will certainly be influenced for bad. And since government has such a significant impact on life, the church must be part of the process of shaping publicly policy that affirms God’s truth.
For the life of them, they can’t understand why so many people seem not to care at all.
The other camp believes that politics divide and the church should unite people around Jesus. They believe that God is in control regardless of the outcome of an election and feel it is far more important to spend time saving souls for eternity than trying to win a legislative seat for two years.
They want to create positive relationships with their community and can’t think of a better way to create negative vibes with their friends and neighbors than getting neck deep in a political campaign.
Besides, they don’t want to see the gospel co-opted for political purposes.
So who is right? Does the church care too much or too little?
Three thoughts about all of this.
First, of course it’s possible to care too much about politics and probably some of us do.
There are plenty of us that need the occasional reminder that the government is on His shoulders, not ours.
Still, the risk of misplaced hope exists in every other area of our lives or ministry as well. There is no end to the list of good things that can become idols if we place our hope in them or derive our identity from them.
Remember, we are always better at identifying someone else’s idol than our own.
Second, the fact that it’s possible to place too much hope in an election does not mean God is indifferent to them.
Yes, some people have misplaced trust. Yes, political issues are often divisive. But truth, in any arena, will cause division with those who are committed to a lie.
Don’t like politics? That’s ok.
But hopefully you like truth and understand that truth has enemies because we are ultimately in a spiritual battle. And whenever you have to choose between more truth and less truth, choose more truth.
Even if that choice presents itself on a ballot.
Even if someone will dislike it.
Don’t miss your opportunities to do good because some refer to it as “politics”.
After all, God is not indifferent to anything.
As Abraham Kuyper wrote, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
Third, allow each person to be who God has made them to be.
I think this is especially important for those of us who care very much about government and public policy. Appreciate the fact that not everyone is like you. The Body of Christ is one body with many members. The fact that God has given others different gifts and passions is wisdom not an oversight.
Yes, we need everyone to be involved in the selection of our leaders because the decisions they make have real impact on the lives of real people for good and for ill. But we will never persuade them to be part of the effort if our starting position is to condemn them for not being with us in the first place.
When it comes to the church and politics, some of us may be inclined to care too much and others to care too little.
Wherever you fall on that spectrum, seek the heart of God first. If we do, I’d like to think we will all find ourselves more concerned with God’s truth, less concerned about the opinions of others, and more able to extend grace to those who God has (thankfully) made different than us.
The result will be a church in which we are all defenders of truth and able to encourage each other to be exactly who He made us to be.
Who knows, maybe the love/hate relationship we have with election season doesn’t have to be permanent.