It’s no secret, that over the past few months, America has been divided. We all see it, and we all feel it. And for many of us; we feel tired, depressed and angry. There are a number of factors that might explain the heightened division in our country. However, one thing we can all agree on is that we seem to have a lot to fight over right now, and most people are choosing to hold these fights in the arena of politics. The three main issues at the heart of America’s current division (coronavirus, racial tensions and most obviously the presidential election) have all turned into major political battles.
Now as a pastor and leader of a church, I was always taught to tread carefully on political ground and champion my faith over my political positions. I do believe there is wisdom in that teaching, but at the same time political issues are important (some more than others) and as Christians we cannot totally disconnect them from our faith.
I’m a Christian and I’m an American, in that order. I’m first and foremost concerned with my faith, and I strive to let Jesus and the values of his kingdom shape the way I view my country and my involvement with her. On the flip side, it’s also crucial to consider how living in America impacts my faith and my church.
America is divided and in some sense, it always will be, but this division is also tragically affecting the Church in America. As I write this post, my strongest desire is for Christians to seek unity and carry out the mission of the Church instead of fighting with one another. In John 13, Jesus commands his disciples to love one another, then he goes on to proclaim that the world will know we are followers of Jesus by how well we love other followers of Jesus. I’m afraid that when the world looks at how Christians in America (in general) are engaging each other in politics, they are not looking at a good picture of what it means to follow Christ.
American Christians, we can disagree with each other, we can vote differently, we can be frustrated with each other, but we must love each other. If politics impact our hearts and actions toward each other more than the clear teachings of Jesus, then where does our strongest allegiance really lie?
This is not a call for “political correctness.” Christian unity is not a Trojan horse I’m utilizing to convince everyone to drop their political convictions and just get along. Christians, we should allow God and his Word to inform our political views. If a brother or sister in Christ is communicating or acting on a political view that is unbiblical, then we should challenge them with conviction. In the same way, when America promotes and participates in what is dishonoring to the Lord, then we need to stand against it. However, the way we make a stand for Jesus, must be done in accordance with the character of Jesus. As the Apostle Paul states, we must “speak the truth in love.”
In connection with our upcoming sermon series at Forestpark, “Unity in Diversity,” I am creating a series of blog posts to spark Christian unity in the midst of political debate. The goal of these posts is not to unilaterally declare which political beliefs are right and wrong. My goal is to provide a framework for Christians to approach the political issues of America with each other from a posture of love without compromising biblical convictions. I hope you find these posts helpful. I hope they spark healthy dialogue in our church. But most of all, I hope they contribute to a unity that brings glory to Christ.