Healthy Engagement with Politics

Breaking News: we have a presidential election occurring here in the US later this year.

You may have missed it, or perhaps you noticed a web article about it.

Or newspaper article. Or magazine article. Or a TV commercial. Or news coverage. Or trending twitter topics. Or one of the debates. Or a billboard. Or a robo-call to your phone. Or unending posts about it on your Facebook feed.

It’s hard to miss, is what I’m getting at here. We all know the deal: we're in the midst of job interviews with numerous candidates who are very, very interested in convincing us that we should give him or her the job of being President of the United States.

Over the past several election cycles, the temperature has been rising on the process. We start earlier every time, and Goodwin’s law shows up more frequently.

In the midst of that climate, how can followers of Jesus fulfill that “city on a hill” role we’re told to accept? To me, that means we must be agents of creating community even in the midst of disagreement.

So how can we debate and discuss who to vote for and retain our identity as the Body of Christ?

Here are a few ways I believe we can work to accomplish that goal during the next 10 months:

1. Don't have unrealistic expectations

Placing your hope in a man or woman to right all the wrongs in our country is foolish at best and idolatrous at worst. In the midst of engaging with our democratic process, we all are still called to place our ultimate hope in a renewed, restored world through the redemptive work of Jesus.


Placing your hope in a man or woman to right all the wrongs in our country is foolish at best and idolatrous at worst. 


You have every right in our country to evaluate the candidates on whatever criteria you choose; but recognize and accept that no candidate can bring harmony and restoration on the level that Jesus invites us to be a part of. The bottom line is that you’re hiring a temporary employee who is supposed provide good leadership to a large group of people.

The best president isn’t a perfect person. Lincoln, we can probably all agree, was a great president. He didn’t fix all the problems which existed in America. He provided some 

terrific leadership at a crucial time and from what we can tell, prayerfully implemented wise policies. When he was killed, he left behind a war torn, politically divided nation with social inequality and great economic challenges.

The entire message of the bible is that humanity is not capable of getting itself out of the hole we have dug ourselves into.

We’re not electing a messiah. We’re electing a political leader. Our candidate is going to have flaws just like the other candidates will. If we try to pretend that our candidate is something they are not, our discussions (or arguments) stop having value.

2. I can still love Jesus and other people no matter who wins.

Look, if you want to threaten to move to Canada if candidate X wins, that’s your call. I’m going to stay right here and continue to look for ways that I can be part of genuine community with other people.

The world isn’t going to end if the candidate you just can’t stand is the president for 4-8 years.

The world’s worst political leader doesn’t mean the end of your country. Germany still exists, and they’re contributions to the world are valuable 70 years after they were led by a guy who was not going on your top 10 list of good world leaders.

In Galatians 5, the Apostle Paul lists the fruit of the Holy Spirit and follows them by saying, “There is no law against these things!”

No matter who becomes the next President, you can live with love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control in your life.


No matter who becomes the next President, you can live with love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control in your life.


3. Christianity is bigger than national politics

Let’s get right to the meat of this discussion. What do the scriptures tell us about engaging with politics around us?

Jesus and Paul never advocate overthrowing the governments which existed. In fact, Jesus and Paul both give support to their authority. Both support paying taxes. Both say governments are part of God’s authority.

Jesus repeatedly refused to take the opportunity to grab political power. When confronted by Pilate about being a king, Jesus responds by saying, “My kingdom is not an earthly kingdom.”

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Now, I’m not saying our faith shouldn’t affect our life on this earth. In fact, I believe the opposite. I’m saying that our focus as followers of Jesus is never dependant on the circumstances around us.

The kingdom of God - the Body of Christ - these are bigger than any national borders or any nation's politics.

I’m called as a follower of Jesus to be a good American, not the other way around.


I’m called as a follower of Jesus to be a good American, not the other way around.


God frequently demonstrates his greatness by redeeming things which seem utterly lost.

We see God repeatedly rescue Israel during the Exodus journey and afterwards.

The Apostle Paul speaks of learning to trust God’s strength in the places where he is weakest.

Isaiah writes of a God who exchanges ashes for a crown of beauty.

Jesus is raised from the dead when all hope seems lost.

In the midst of a system that encourages arguing and discord, we have a chance to distinguish ourselves as individuals who respect and care for others in the moments which would normally cause the greatest loss of hope.

No matter who you plan to vote for, let the teachings of Jesus be the foundation for your interactions with others over the next 10 months.