I decided to start blogging again and thought I would start with a bang. Politics and religion are sensitive topics in the US today, so combining both into a blog post should be fun! A little background first. I left America in 2008 and lived in China for 10 years. When I left, the polarization of politics in America was already evident. However, when I returned in the summer of 2018, I was taken aback at how badly that polarization had continued to develop. The amount of hate was truly shocking and still is. Therefore, I wanted to share some thoughts on the current political situation we find ourselves in, and most of all try to discern how Christians are to approach the America we live in today.
Not our home
I think first as a Christian we must remember that this earth, America and the state we live in really is not our home. 1 Peter 2:11 says “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” Also Hebrews 13:14 tells us “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”
These verses do not give us an excuse to be uninvolved with the affairs of where we currently call home, but I think it is important we remember this important truth because where we call home influences so much of what we do, say and think. My daughter loves going to hotels. But she also recognizes that a hotel is a temporary place for us to stay. After a trip, she wants to return home. She recognizes a hotel is not our home and to treat it as our home would be silly and not the best situation for our family, (or for herself).
Sadly that is exactly what many Christians have done. We have traded our eternal home in heaven for temporal home in America. We have put all our hope in this beautiful country of ours rather than the cross of Christ. Do you see the problems this can cause? Of course we are going to get angry and fight back if we believe there are people trying to ruin our home. But when we recognize our eternal home cannot be ruined, altered or influenced we are freed up to love our temporal home in a less defensive way and actually love those who believe differently than us.
Love our enemies
If we can at least begin by recognizing that America is not truly our home, I think then we can start to see the right way to engage in such an ugly, polarized situation. The answer is not to disengage because we long for our eternal home, but instead engage in a way that realizes we are here to love and serve in our temporal setting. With that in mind, (that we are longing for our eternal home), we are set free to love as Jesus commanded us to love in Matthew 4:43-48:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sunrise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
I do not think this type of love is possible without understanding where our home truly is. Because if America is my home, I cannot possibly love the other side of the political spectrum. They will only be seen as enemies trying to destroy my beautiful home. But when I realize that my home is in heaven I can actually read Jesus’ words and apply them. Notice the ground for Jesus argument: we can love our enemies because God is in control. If we truly believe God is in control, we are, through the power of the spirit, given the ability to love in supernatural ways. In fact, we can even pray for those on the other side of the political spectrum. Not just that God would change them, but that God would bless them abundantly.
Have you prayed for the alt-right or antifa lately? Have you prayed for the democrats or republicans lately? I know I have not. I am challenged to actually live out my calling as a Christian and pray for those who are against Christianity and what I value, (which is both sides of the political spectrum), because I know this is not my home and that my God is in control.
There are some many sides and facets to how we as Christians should approach the current political situation in America. I do not claim that this short blog has exhaustively explained everything that needs to be considered when it comes to how Christians in America should approach politics. All I know is that things are getting worse and as Christians we have a chance to be a light in the darkness (Matthew 5:14-16). But we can only be that light when we let go to our claim on America and instead see our country as a place desperately in need of the love of Christ. Will you join me in praying for both sides of the political spectrum? Will you remember that we are citizens of heaven first and foremost today? May God bless us and may God bless these United States of America.