tension

Do you have any friends with strong political beliefs?  Maybe their beliefs are so strong that you won’t bring up certain topics around them for the fear that they will go off for hours on how they feel about the topic.  Maybe you’re in a conversation about your favorite band and they work in the latest political issue. You know what I’m talking about.  You might even be, “that guy.”

Lately I have been thinking through the relationship between the church, the people and the government.  Churches have always taken stands in the context of history, and in the context of history the church and state were more closely tied.  However, the secular state is somewhat new.  Over the time of recorded history there has almost always been some sort of religious system attached to the governance of the people.   The laws and ordinances usually reflected the values of the deity of the state. The secular state draws its values from tools such as the constitution or laws.

So in the secular state there is a tension that emerges when people have different value systems.  They want to push their value system on the state. Among the different flavors of Christianity some churches begin to look less like Christ and more like a particular political party.   When one church gains a reputation for looking like a political party, then guess who will never step foot in that church?, Probably members of the opposing party.  I remember in college, Campus Crusade for Christ sponsored a question wall, which each student was allowed to post questions.  One question read, “Does God hate Democrats?”  While entirely untrue, the perception was that the Christian God is a Republican.

Many Christian leaders who engage the political have some amazing beliefs and thoughts, they have great intentions. However great these intentions are, we need to ask the larger question about what are we doing to the community?  Are we ushering in a culture of polarization?  In which way are we introducing political discourse, are our conversations “seasoned with salt” and covered with grace?  Is it a “my way or the highway” conversation? Are we dividing instead of uniting?

Certainly there are issues, which are near to God’s heart.  Certainly we have to protect the poor, the widows and orphans, we need to defend the cause of the fatherless.   We have to be political because after all we are by nature political animals.  But how will we use it?  What will the tone of the discourse be?  Will we be known for our love, or something else entirely?

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