Over the 40 years or so the Evangelical wing of the Church has become ever more engaged in politics. They are a coveted voting block. According to many pundits it was their ability to get out and vote that won Donald Trump the presidency over Hillary Clinton (though the real culprit was probably lack of voter turn out for Clinton). This political engagement has been seen as a key component to the “Culture War.” This war, according to some, is over no less than the soul of America.
What started as a small movement of conservative Christians seeking to speak to the moral degradation of the country has become something much more. In the run up to the presidential election of 2016 we caught a glimpse of the reality that many Christians were voting to protect a “seat at the table” and over a concern that Democrats would limit their ability to influence the agenda of the government.
There was little concern on the part of the average Christian Trump voter over his lack of faith, lack of character, and lack of moral compass. All things that most held to be core principles of previous votes. Their concern was to protect their perceived power and influence.
The politically liberal Christians have done the same thing. They have found themselves in a place to influence policy within the Democratic party and fight tooth and nail to retain that power. They have turned to governmental agencies and programs to carry out what they believe to be Jesus’ social agenda.
At the end of the day, many Christians on either side of the political spectrum have begun primarily driven by the political ideologies as opposed to the Scriptures. When discussions are starting with, “We’re not electing a pastor-in-chief…” or “You have to live in the real world…” then you have to question what your driving force has become.
Psalm 146 is instructive for us,
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD! (Psalm 146, ESV)
There is much in this psalm that speaks and challenges the perspective of the Christian in the engagement of the political realm. What I want to key in on is that bit that is bolded above, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”
Political ideologues within the Church, on both sides of the aisle, are putting their trust in princes. To trust the political leaders of our age is to trust people “in whom there is no salvation.” While most, if not all, would say they are not looking to Capitol Hill for salvation, their actions betray their faith.
When every election is understood to be the one where our country will rise or fall. This candidate or that candidate will be the downfall of our society. If this candidate or that candidate is elected then the world will end. If we are saying these things then we believe that the political power structures of the age have greater power than the God “who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed.”
We, the Church, must ask ourselves why is it that, by and large, we believe that we need the powers of this age to help us carry out the mission of God? Why is it that we think that a president or a senator or a representative is in whom we should place our trust? The Church is to disrupt the powers and is to speak truth to them, not to be their pawns that are used to consolidate their own power.
In whom do you trust? Does your life, your actions, your Facebook feed, back up your answer to that question?