I have always had a concern for “the church to be the church,” but never before have I been so burdened by how we look to the watching world. When I am told there are families that cannot talk to each other because of differing political views, when I hear there is rancor within churches over one political position or another, I am compelled to write a few words at this time, as we watch Washington trying to sort out its political impasse on the world stage.
I think the Apostle Paul would have a word for us at this critical hour. He would say, “Remember that your unity in Christ transcends your political affiliation.” In his words, “I…urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3, italics added). Let us remember that God, for His own purposes—yes, believe it or not—has brought some Republicans and some Democrats to saving faith in Jesus Christ! We are one body, one temple, and “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). Let’s act like it.
I, for one, believe that politics is important—very important. Whoever gets elected will have long-term consequences for our nation. You, like me, might find this political stalemate we are witnessing difficult to accept but we must remember that in America, people have the right to hold different views than we do! More importantly, we can and must worship Jesus together with those who differ with us, giving Him praise and thanks for His redemption. Jesus is Lord; our favorite politician is not.
For years we have been teaching that the Gospel transcends race, and therefore our churches should reflect the diversity of heaven. This is now a time for us to apply the same teaching to our political differences. Difficult though it is, our political convictions must be surrendered to our mutual overarching and transcendent Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
A friend of mine, who worked in Israel to bring together Messianic Jews and Arab Christians, told me that the two groups had to agree not to talk about their differences when in the same room. They could not discuss who owns the land, whether the wall should have been built, whether Israel treated Arabs fairly, etc. The divisions were so deep, and their emotions so strong, that facts simply did not matter. But despite all this, they could worship God together and give thanks to Him for their salvation. I think we have a similar watershed moment among us today politically.
Don’t try to convince your family members and friends, whether Democrat or Republican, that they voted the wrong way! Before the election there may have been a time for political discussion, but now that the voting is over, you will soon discover that your “discussions” turn into passionate arguments, often based more on emotions than facts. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, our desire to believe something is much more powerful than rational arguments. We are so heavily invested in the outcome of this election that facts indeed often seem irrelevant. Or, more accurately, each side accuses the other of selecting some facts and ignoring others.
When you sit down together for Thanksgiving, this year especially, let it be a time of thanksgiving. Neither our churches nor our family gatherings should resemble the wrangling that is going on in Washington. I fear that no matter who eventually emerges as victorious, one half of the country will believe that the election has been “stolen.” We are in for a choppy ride in the years to come—and the church needs to have both unity and stability, not co-opted by one side or the other.
Although we might not agree while standing up, we are all agreed when we are on our knees before the King who will not be elected by Republicans or Democrats.
“And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9).
Together we live and breathe, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”