God never intended his holy people to be ruled by an earthly leader. His heart for them was something different than the reality of the rest of the world. His longing for them, and what he called them to, was holiness – to be set apart for his purposes. But Israel rejected God’s will for them. They wanted to be like the surrounding nations. They wanted to be lead by a strong king more than a faithful God.
And God hears the prayers of his people. He is a living and active God who makes known his will, but doesn’t force it upon his people.
God responded to the pleas of the Israelites and gave them what they asked for. So begins the reign of Saul, followed by a shepherd boy. And so begins Israel’s history of kings who rule with human hands and sinful hearts. It’s a painfully beautiful journey of faithful leadership, division, destruction and renewal as God’s chosen people learn to live and express their faith within a distinct community, among a broken world. It’s a story that is not yet finished…
God knew that earthly kingship would fail. No human system would never be able to solve the broken social reality that inherently occurs when a sinful creation lives and communes on the same piece of earth.
So heaven came down! The kingdom that God intended was born to the earth and brought a heavenly rule. One that transcends the law of the land. And supersedes government establishments with grace and love. It offers restoration, not retirement. Hope, instead of social security. Wisdom, rather than better education. A faithful now, instead of a better tomorrow.
The kingdom of God rules with the authority of love. Not the law. This. Changes. Everything.
As the world participates in political banter and debate over earthly leadership and the issues that give reason for a government (and a savior!), the Church is not responsible to participate in these conversations. The conversations that pit one side against another, water down the issues, misrepresent positions and refute arguments by making equally superficial claims. They are futile, repetitive and don’t advance toward understanding. They move us not the slightest toward holiness. And remember, that is our goal.
Rather, the people who represent God on this earth are called to change the dialogue. To provide a different answer. To live a redeemed reality.
As stewards of love and grace, we are called to be hospitable in all things. To be givers and receivers of life no matter the event. No matter the conversation. No matter the issue. In business, in education, in family, in politics – it is critical that we continually evaluate the ways we are welcoming others with a spirit of love and grace.
During times like this – when the rest of the world is responding in the flesh, considering their earthly future, and holding onto their inherited cultural values tighter than usual – the children of God (the redeemed, the adopted, the forgiven and eternal children of God) find themselves with a special responsibility to uphold spirit driven, love based, grace filled politics. The kind that honors God before it elects a president. The kind that aligns ourselves with the Spirit before it clings to human ideas.
This isn’t a call to dismiss politics. It’s a charge to engage it differently. It’s a reminder that we live in this world, though we are not of this world. It’s an appeal to be Christian before you are American. It’s an urging to live like you believe Jesus is the resolution to our social and economic brokenness, not a political or economic ideology.
Social wholeness and brokenness. Governments who help and hurt. Leaders who succeed and fail. People who support and complain. Expectations met and missed. Financial struggles and victories. Business that contributes and corrupts. These are our realities. These are things that influences us, frustrate us, and teach us. These are things we will talk about. I humbly offer suggestions on how to hospitably converse, discuss, and publicly comment about such things as these politics.
- Never make derogatory comments about an opposing idea, person or belief. By derogatory, I mean comments that intend to belittle, make fun of, or judge. By never, I mean never.
- Avoid sarcasm and express genuine thoughts.
- Listen more than you talk.
- Avoid TV and radio commentary. Their bias and agenda is powerful.
- Go deep — “Whatever your politics–conservative, liberal, independent, or conscientious objector–avoid the shallow all-too-easy answers and commit yourself to seeking deep answers that do your best to be as Christian as possible in all circumstances regardless of the outcome.” Adam Hill
- Don’t inherit your political understandings from others. Seek and discover for yourself (and within a community) how your commitment to Jesus reinterprets your understanding of the issues and people involved in the political and social dialogue.
- Don’t be partisan. Due to the complexity of the issues, it’s likely that the faithful response is confusion and uncertainty, rather than loyal commitment to a particular party or ideology.
- Genuinely consider how all parties and ideas give and receive life.
- Practice and speak this phrase: “I can see why that’s important to you.”
- And this one too: “I hear your point of view.”
- When seeking confirmation in scripture, don’t find one passage to tag and support a particular idea. Consider how the gospel message as a whole speaks truth into the issue.
- Rather than spend time finding and pointing out the flaws in opposing representatives, ask God to reveal to you the ways you imperfectly speak and live within your proclaimed faith and beliefs.
- Be willing to change what you think and believe. The apostle Peter had always believed that God was the God of the Jews. Until he met Cornelius. His encounter with this God-fearing Gentile gave Peter a fuller understanding of God, creation, the church and himself. If we genuinely seek to know God, we must be willing to set aside preconceived assumptions of what we believe about him, in order for him to reveal new discoveries of who he is and who we are as created in his image.
- Focus your passion and frustration on the injustice of our social realities, not at the words and actions of public figures or the outcome of our voting. And let this passion move you toward compassion — participating in the ways God is redeeming the injustice, rather than participating in the political banter.
As eternal residents of Heaven and temporary residents of this earth, we have the privilege to represent the Kingdom of God with our faithful allegiance to love. His heavenly rule begins now. He reigns now, on this earth, through those who are willing to submit to his will.
In what you say, how you respond, how you live, how you love — make known to the world the faithful love of the only ruler who will ever make things right and whole. He is just. He is merciful. He is good. Live and tell of this good news gospel politics.