WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE MAKE POLITICS OUR PRAISE
by Trevor DeVage
Not long ago I passed a house with a shocking photo on display in the front yard. It showed a man holding up a middle finger above a caption that used the ugliest epithet to suggest what viewers could do if they didn’t vote for this guy’s presidential choice.
At first I couldn’t believe it, but quickly I realized how typical this is of what’s happening too often today. But here’s the worse part. Behind this unpleasant middle finger soared a huge white cross, the symbol of Christian love and sacrifice, also on display in the yard. But I doubt many who saw the photo noticed the cross, and those who did certainly received no clue of what the cross of Christ is all about.
When we put our political views in front of the cross of Christ, we hide it from a watching world. When politics becomes our praise, our effectiveness for God in this world is diminished, if not ruined. Here’s why.
1. WE VALUE POLICY OVER PEOPLE.
I saw this happen after a friend linked online to a blog post by a Christian author explaining the author’s choice for president this year. My friend posted the link without comment, but the firestorm of vitriol that erupted afterward included not only vehement objections to the blogger’s point of view, but also ugly attacks on my friend’s faith and character for even sharing it. Most (probably all) of these nasty comments came from Christians, disappointed or incensed that another Christian could consider a conclusion different from theirs about God’s will for the occupant of the White House.
Many came to my friend’s defense in their comments below his link, which was encouraging for sure. But how can Christians so quickly attack a brother simply for a different choice? Politics has become their praise.
2. WE DISPLAY DISUNITY OVER DISCIPLESHIP.
My friend said a retired Christian minister had written to tell him why he never makes political posts on Facebook: It fosters division. Division was certainly evident in the reaction to the post. But this was a division that already existed, a division we see all around us, a division that distracts the church from its central mission.
Jesus said, “As you go, make disciples.” That is, “Teach people about me. Lead them to become my followers.” But tragically, Satan has convinced some Christians that their political choice is the most important cause and their political leaders are the most important to follow.
In the process, strugglers with faith and skeptics about organized religion turn their back on the church. When vocal Christian leaders align behind candidates whose flaws cause many to reject them, the church becomes just another shrill voice babbling in the wind. Satan doesn’t have to make us look bad; we do that to ourselves.
Putting politics first fosters disunity and pushes discipleship into the shadows.
3. WE PUSH OUR VALUES OVER CHRIST’S LOVE.
Admittedly it should be possible to do both: to uphold a wide range of Christian values including the love of Christ. But too many Christians pick and choose. We’re all “Jesus” till it comes to this or that. We’ll defend someone who supports our single-vote issue, while we ignore his/her indiscretions or actions completely opposed to Biblical ideals. We do this, we say, because we are Christians. But non-Christians see only a polluted version of our faith. And, in our wrangling with each other, they don’t see the love of Christ at all.
When politics becomes our praise, our point-of-view becomes our focus. We look away from the One we should worship and we look past the ones we should love. I believe this so strongly that I can’t say it all in one blog post. So I’ll continue these thoughts in this space next week.