It feels like overnight our culture has gone from considering politics a somewhat taboo topic to becoming the only topic people are talking about.
Social media, the News and even ESPN are ablaze with protests, racial tension, anger, violence, and political unrest. I rolled up to a gas station the other day and saw people fighting about what seemed to be politics. It's everywhere.
How should we approach these issues as Christians? What are some things to think about as we process what's unfolding?
01. Politics are the new religion.
Christianity and other spiritual worldviews have been increasingly rejected in the West, but people aren’t therefore religion-less. No, instead we’ve replaced spiritual ideologies with secular ones. The most popular among which is political. Why? Because the human heart is hardwired for ideology. We need a narrative and a worldview out of which to live.
So, instead of God’s Word, people start their day with the news. Instead of a biblical vision we embrace a political vision. Instead the great commission a political mission.
02. There's a reason why the unrest keeps spiraling.
Acts 4:12 "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
As our culture becomes highly politicized it’s no small thing. It's entirely spiritual. Consider that there’s even a new kind of conviction of sin and sacrifice for atonement as people cancel leaders on Twitter, tear down statues, set buildings ablaze, riot, or boycott. People are seeking to condemn sinners and atone for the sins of our nation. It's spiritual.
It only makes sense. Made in the image of God, we are spiritual beings who sense our spiritual need. But here's the problem: people are seeking to deal with a spiritual problem through secular means. There are certainly practical ways we must pursue justice. Absolutely. But even if countless reforms were established, it woudln't satisfy the culture. Because ultimate the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart.
Our cities are on fire right now because it is simply impossible to find the peace we seek without Jesus. There’s no atonement for sin without the blood of Jesus. There’s no reconciliation without the cross of Jesus. And there’s no satisfying purpose for which people can live besides the mission of Jesus.
So, with that understanding, how do we as Christians deal with the new political zeal of our culture?
03. WE ARE FROM A BETTER COUNTRY.
Hebrews 11:16 "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city."
It’s so important as Christians that we look at these issues through the lens of the Gospel rather than the lens of our political party.
We are tempted to over-embrace a political party and find ourselves disagreeing with Jesus. When Jesus returns he will not be riding a donkey or elephant but a white horse. He will not be running for president. He is seated as King if kings and Lord of lords having died on the cross and conquered the grave.
Thus, Christians must fundamentally identitify as people of the cross not people of the flag; people of the book not political ideology.
What does it look like to be people of the cross rather than the flag? It means that there will be times the Gospel offends our political party. The Bible’s take on an issue will often be more nuanced than our party’s take. Other times the Gospel view will directly contradict our party's view. What’s politically expedient is not always biblically faithful. While that’s not convenient for us culturally, it is true nonetheless.
04. My version of Jesus is ridiculous.
Galatians 1:8 "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed."
My version of Jesus is ridiculous. So is yours.
Our tendancy is to think Jesus agrees with out political framework. In-so-doing we fabricate a Jesus of our own making.
We conjure up a 21st Century, suburban, socially conservative-Jesus--or a woke, progressive, protesting-Jesus, or a smart, economist-Jesus who’s not fond of closing businesses--or a Jesus who’s primary concern is the vulnerable, so he’s wearing a mask and condemning anyone who doesn’t--or the trained-marxist-Jesus--or libertarian, can’t-tread-on-me-Jesus Jesus who drives a big truck with a gun rack and American flag on the back—or you could name any other political Jesus we want.
By doing this, we’ve subjugated Jesus to political human authorities. This is idolatry. We must, instead, seek to understand king Jesus in the revealed Truth of scripture and then subject ourselves, our views, and actions to Him.
We don't want "our Jesus". We want the biblical Jesus. We must be careful bible readers with a serious bent on knowing the Jesus of the Bible and surrendering to Him.
04. SPEND MORE TIME STEEPED IN JESUS.
O God, You are my God.
Earnestly I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You.
My body yearns for You
in a dry and weary land without water.
Right now are you spending more time reading headlines, posts, and articles or reading Psalms, Gospels, and Proverbs? Look, beyond taking the wrong view on issues, this will also deeply affect your soul.
Seeing violent videos in the news and on social media and reading articles has an affect on you. You weren’t made to take in that much evil. If you’re feeling agitated or even angry lately, could it be that that’s why?
How are you going to love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, and boldly walk against the grain of culture as we fail to read the Bible and instead fill your heart with awful news content?
Instead we need to be steeped in Jesus.
TO STEEP: verb (used with object) - To thoroughly drench; saturate; imbue. to immerse in or saturate with.
I’ve made it a rule in my life that I read scripture before I touch social media because I'm irritable when I read the news first. One of my mentors is only reading news once a week. What if you did some kind of fast from it like that? People can tell when you've been with him.
Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
Some questions for reflection:
01 In what ways am I being shaped more by the culture than the Scriptures?
02 What views do I hold that Jesus might disagree with right now?
03 How are my emotions being affected by social media and news intake right now?
04 When is the last time I've spent significant time in the Bible?
05 What do I spend most of my thought life on? Prayer life?
06. How am I think about and treatingg my enemies both online and in person?
07. What would it look like to fix my eyes on things above rather than things on earth?