Politics and Priorities
July 4, 2019 | by: Shea Oakley | 0 Comments
Posted in: Holidays
And Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him. Mark 12:17
Even a casual observer of the socio-political landscape in America today cannot miss the fact of the growing rift between people on the two ends of the political spectrum. Those on the Left are drifting, or feel driven, to move ever father to the Left. The same is true of those on the Right. The once vast “American Center” seems to have all but disappeared. We appear to be a country more divided than at any other time since the turbulent 1960’s, a half century ago. Some would even go so far as to claim that the rift between those on either side of the political spectrum is as bad as it’s been since the decade that preceded the Civil War, a century and a half in the past.
One reason for this nearly 50%-50% split between our citizens on social and political issues is the fact that the culture is rapidly leaving behind the shared Judeo-Christian values that for so long made the American Center possible. 50 or 60 years ago many (including the author) could have voted for either a Democratic or Republican candidate. Today the parties are so far apart from each other in their interpretation of what the nation’s condition is today, and what it should become in the future, that many of us cannot bring ourselves to ever vote for “that other party.”
This is a troubling issue for all Americans, but it is one that should especially concern the followers of Christ in this country. We have a mandate from the One we call our Lord to reach out to all people with the Gospel He brought to earth 2000 years ago, whether they are on the increasingly extreme Left or on the increasingly extreme Right. This is very difficult, if not impossible, when we sometimes tend to wear our political affiliations “on our sleeves.” Those of us who regularly find ourselves in debate with either believers or, much more importantly, non-believers desperately need to remember that our first loyalty is to a Kingdom, not a nation, to a spiritual ideal, not to a political one. Most of all we have to remember that the Great Commission Jesus gave us to evangelize all nations cannot be sacrificed on the altar of winning political victories in our home country at any cost.
Like many Christians in America I am politically conservative. I must confess I am sorely tempted to try to do anything in my power to see conservative ideals win out in determining my country’s future. Further, as a citizen of a Constitutional Republic, with the right to vote and to advocate according to my conscience (hopefully enlightened and/or controlled by the Holy Spirit) I cannot simply stick my head in the sand and become completely passive about the state of my country. With that said, however, my first priority must be helping to bring new people into the only “Christian nation” that has ever truly existed, the Church Universal. I am also called to love and bless those who already are a part of that “nation,” whatever their political bent.
I cannot effectively do this if I let the increasing cultural tribalism evident in the United States in 2019 take priority over the call of the Apostle Paul to be “all things to all men…in the hope of saving some” to paraphrase 1st Corinthians 9:22. Any human being whether he or she is (in the extreme “worst-case” scenario) either a Marxist or a Fascist is potentially my brother or sister in Christ. That is the bottom line! My love for all people must override my deepest political convictions when it comes to reaching out, in love, with the Gospel.
Does this mean that I should pretend I agree with everything those on the opposite end of my political convictions believe in order to win them? No. It does mean, though, that I must try to be as apolitical as possible when I’m talking to liberal-leaning non-believers (or, for that matter, people who are far to the Right of me). Every one of these people does not first need to be debated into a new political stance. What they absolutely first need is to see in me the unconditional love of Christ, no more, no less, no different. They need salvation, the kind of salvation that no temporal “movement” will ever be able to give them, and I may be the only vessel God ever chooses to use to reach them. This is a sobering thought and it should be. God forbid I ever endanger the holy task I have been privileged to have bestowed upon me for any temporal reason whatsoever, political or otherwise.
I hate to see the earthly country in which my God planted me for my pilgrimage on earth potentially torn apart but, primarily, I have to do everything I can to be that God’s vessel to bring people to Jesus Christ. When it comes to this divine obligation my politics (and I hope yours too) must take a distant second place in the way I prioritize my life as a Christian.