There are many things the Church has faced throughout history that have threatened its existence. The great persecutions of the past were harsh and caused many disciples to flee. Nobody likes to face hardships, but often times persecution has the opposite effect-people are scattered, and the Gospel spreads. When we are pressed from the outside, we ban together under a common cause. People seek God.
Christianity has also had its fair share of internal threats. Squabbles on the inside often center around doctrinal issues. Many of these are small and relatively insignificant, and is why we see so many denominations today. Even though we have been divided in what we believe, we’ve still been able to overcome our personal convictions and work together. I have lots of Christian family outside of my fellowship, and wholeheartedly expect to see them when I get to heaven.
In recent years, I’ve seen a new threat wedging its way into the fibers of the Church. I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that a storm is coming and it troubles me. I’m not afraid for myself, because I know who I am in Christ, and what I must do, but I worry for those who will be shaken. I worry for those who have fastened themselves to the wrong foundation, and when the wind starts blowing they will fall.
There is a new type of internal conflict in the Church and it’s tied to politics and connectedness. Part of it is about the left-right divide that has gripped our our planet. Politics has been around almost as long as religion, so what’s new in this generation? The internet! We’ve entered a time period like no other in humanity’s past. We are connected both instantly and constantly. Personal connection with others is a good thing, and I would even say that we were created to be connected, but the connection we experience through the internet is different. We act differently online than we would face-to-face. It’s a bit like road rage. We post and say things without thought, or care of how it might affect others. It is not a give and take relationship we experience online — it’s about throwing out our opinion. It’s about grouping ourselves with others that have the same opinion so that we will feel good about “being right.”
Politics has always been divisive, but that in itself isn’t bad. Our political system was created to keep itself in check, so some disagreement is unavoidable. But when you take politics, and couple with it an incomplete method of communication you get a recipe for disaster.
The political divide has now begun to permeate all areas of life–even our faith. Our atmosphere of “being right” is preventing some from carrying out the true behaviors of Christianity–loving others and treating them with patience, respect, and kindness. Both left and right are using Christianity for their own benefit. That’s nothing new; Charlemagne, Constantine, and many others mixed religion with politics to gain followers and drive them to action. There is a political force today that is trying to pull every single person to one side or the other, and it doesn’t want you to stand in the middle.
As you read this I want you to stop and think. Set aside the talking points. Think Biblically for a moment.
How does this behavior follow the Apostle Paul’s instructions? “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others”
How does it follow Jesus Golden Rule? “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
How does it follow the Apostle Peter’s words? “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”
Christianity is not Republican, nor is it Democrat. Do not allow yourself to be pulled to a political side. I can guarantee you, political motives are not biblical.
In closing, I do not think it’s wrong to be politically active. We can look at Paul’s example in the New Testament, where he spoke often about his Roman citizenship. He definitely used it to further the purpose of the Gospel. I just think, as we participate in the political process that we should always apply Biblical principles in our communication. Our biggest mandate is to spread the Truth. Stand up for what is right, and speak against issues that are immoral. Stop the name calling. Stop the spreading of half-truths and lies. Be respectful when speaking with others and about others. If we become indistinguishable from the world, then we lose, but if we hold up the values of Christ, then we win.