The Yearly Temptation is Upon Us

November’s elections are a little more than a month away, and with early voting and mail in ballots, the elections are actually already here. It’s a time when churches, and their people, are tempted to trade in their roles of being the “hands and feet of Christ” and of bringing “one more” into a life transforming relationship with Jesus Christ, to make the church a place of political activism. Resist this temptation church.

In my almost 41 years in the ministry I have made it a major point of my ministry to be a-political. Thus in the churches I’ve served in those years we don’t do politics.

There are three major reasons for my stance. First I’ve known and know wonderful Christian people who are Republicans and Democrats. Some are strongly left and some are strongly right. I know wonderful brothers and sisters who are conservative fiscal issues yet liberal on social issues, and others who are liberals on both.

The point is that when we make political views the “line in the sand” we alienate our brothers and sisters who hold different political views. Often this invites arguments, hurt feelings, and sometimes broken relationships. These kinds of dust ups are in direct opposition to the Biblical principles that Jesus and Paul lay out for how the church is to behave. Jesus in particular told us that we are to “love one another as I have loved you” John 13:34. Not only that Jesus tells us; “that the world will know that we are His disciples” when we love one another.

All too often the first thing that happens when a church becomes political is that command is broken. The people of the church stop loving each other because they are fighting with each other over politics, and what is more, they cease to be a positive witness for Jesus. Sure they still are a witness, all be it a bad one, one that reinforces secular people’s idea that they should have nothing to do with a Christian Church.

The second thing that always happens is the church has to compromise its values. The old saying is; “politics makes strange bedfellows.” When a church or a denomination hops in bed with a particular party or politician, we end up compromising what we believe. Yes we as individuals support some politicians over others, but when we attempt to align our church with a politician or political party we will have to compromise. Because no politician or political party fulfills the commands of Jesus. That isn’t the mission of a political party, but it must be our mission.

This second thing isn’t nearly as bad for Jesus’ church as the third; losing sight of our core mission. We forget that we are called by Jesus to bring more people into His Kingdom. This mission is time and energy consuming.

Yes, church people, vote your conscience. Yes, if you so desire, work for a political candidate or political party, but leave it at the door of the church. When you walk into church remember these are your brothers and sisters.

Every year I hear psychologists talk about navigating a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner with family that have differing political views. Invariably the advice boils down to “don’t talk politics. Talk football, or basketball, or rugby, or any other sport, but not politics.

That is good advice for a church. We are going to be with our brothers and sisters in Christ for eternity. Let’s leave politics out of our time together here on earth.

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