Blog: Political Pessimism

I hesitate to write anything closely related to politics because typically I would rather people like me.  I know that by writing anything remotely political there may be some who want to throw burning pitchforks at me; however, I feel compelled to write anyway.  I want to clarify at the beginning of this that I am writing to Christians and not society as a whole.  This article is for those of us who consider ourselves Christian and who desire to follow the example of Jesus and proclaim the message He called us to proclaim.
I am generally an optimistic person.  This is a choice I try to make everyday even as pessimism presses in on all sides.  I admit that I do get pessimistic from time to time, but I try my best to be positive.  After all, I claim to believe in Jesus and His teachings, so I should probably do my best to experience the joy He promised us.  Being optimistic allows me to experience more joy.  I have chosen to extend my optimism into my view of politics.   This is not easy to do and is becoming more and more difficult.
Eight years ago our country freely elected a president who held ideologies that ran contrary to many traditional Christians.  I heard many pessimistic projections of what would happen to our country.  People were in an uproar.  To the point that many were making the case that our new President could be the antichrist. (He better get on that, he only has two months left……..oh wait maybe he is just using the presidency as a springboard to ascend to the throne of the relished position of antichrist)  Obviously I am being sarcastic here but the vitriol against President Obama was very real by many Christians.  I even heard things such as, “How could anyone be a Christian and vote for a Democrat.”  To use the political jargon, right leaning Christians made moderate or left leaning Christians feel like due to their voting choice they were not adequate to be true followers of Christ.  Eight years ago I chose to believe in the checks and balances of our great country and treat our leader with respect.  Our country has withstood many challenges and I chose to believe we would continue to survive, if not thrive.  Eight years later our country still exists and we are still a strong nation.  Are there problems? Yes.  Can we become better? Yes.  But President Obama did not destroy our nation.
Fast forward to today.  We have now freely elected a man who many find offensive and are terrified about where he will take our country.  With the rise of social media since 2008, the cries of fear and frustration have been given a megaphone.  Now Christians who are more left leaning or moderate are returning the favor given to them eight years ago.  I have heard and seen statements such as, “Anyone who voted for Trump is a racist and a bigot, no true Christian could vote for such a man.”  Christians who may have voted for Trump are being categorized as less than Christian just as Christians who voted for Obama were eight years ago.
I have chosen again to believe in the checks and balances of our great nation and treat our leader with respect even if he sometimes does not.  I believe our nation will survive and possibly thrive.  Unfortunately, my pessimism is becoming stronger not in regards to our nation, but in regards to our ability to effectively impact the Kingdom of God.
With the election of President Obama in ’08 and the election of President Elect Trump in ’16 the unhealthy obsession with politics among American Christians is obvious.  We have become so engaged in our earthly political system we have neglected our role in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus called the Church, which is all of us, to proclaim the Good News of God’s Kingdom.  He did not call any country or political system.  The excessive emphasis by us as Christians on our political system has begun to fracture our ability to make a positive impact in the Kingdom of God. We are divided as a country, but more concerning, is how divided we are as the Church.  Christians on both sides of the political landscape are lobbing hate and fear like grenades and the Church is absorbing all the shrapnel.  With every angry and accusatory tweet and Facebook post, the effectiveness of the American Church becomes less and less.  As Christians, we should be ashamed that we have allowed a temporary political system, lead by a temporary leader, derail us from our God given mission of proclaiming the Kingdom of God is at hand.  We are citizens of an unshakable Kingdom led by God Almighty and yet we tremble at the thought of a leader who will govern an earthly and temporary kingdom for at most eight years.  I will admit that the way we have acted as Christians towards one another in these last two election seasons is embarrassing, and in my pessimism I wonder if we can recover our ability to make a positive impact for the Kingdom of God.
Thankfully, I believe we can; however, changes will need to be made.  First, we must quit acting like one political party captures what it means to be a Christian.  I am going to oversimplify this example to try and make a point.  I know your minds will be spinning with arguments and qualifiers to what I am about to say, so I urge you to just consider the basic point.  Republicans proudly support a pro-life and anti-abortion agenda.  I can make a very strong case that this is a Godly and biblical principle.  God values all life and He has “knit us in our Mother’s womb.”  Does this mean all ‘good’ Christians must fall in line with this party?  The Democratic Party holds strongly to a more welcoming and relaxed immigration system.  I can make a very strong case that this is a Godly and biblical principle.  God certainly desires for us to welcome the foreigner and remember, “what you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.”  Does this mean that all ‘good’ Christians should fall in line with this party? 
I know that all of you are doing the mental gymnastics necessary to justify and defend your political party and that is fine, but please stop long enough to consider the fact that maybe God didn’t appoint one of our political parties to be the ambassador of Christianity.  How are we going to be able to show God’s love to the world around us when we allow political party lines to bring about such division and hate among those who claim to be Christians? If your party allegiance causes you to look down on those who politically disagree with you then your allegiance to your party is greater than your allegiance to God.
Please don’t take this as saying that we should not be involved in the political process.  This is not the case at all.  However, we should conduct ourselves within the process as Christians.  Seek to understand one another, respect each other, and be willing to turn the other cheek when others disrespect you.  Our political fervor should never lead us to treat others with hate and disrespect.
Secondly, we must decide whom we will serve.  I know that when we as Americans think about our country there is a strong emotional reaction.  Many of us have family and friends who have served this country through the military.  They have sacrificed so much and deserve our respect and gratitude.  Our country’s value on freedom has given us so many opportunities.  When we feel that one political ideology is threatening that freedom we react passionately.  Both sides of the political spectrum react out of this passion.  I am so glad we live in a country worthy of passion, but as Christians we need to understand our country is still only an earthly kingdom.  All earthly kingdoms will one day fade away.  Earthly kingdoms have very different agendas and responsibilities than the Kingdom in which we live.
I believe the United States is a great country and will survive our political turmoil, but as strong as our country is it does not compare to the Kingdom of God.
Jesus came with a message proclaiming the Kingdom of God was at hand.  This means there is hope for the hopeless, peace for those ravaged by war, and joy for those immersed in sadness.  The Kingdom of God does not rely on an election in order to be great, the Kingdom is great because God is present and active among us.  There is no threat to the Kingdom.  Jesus has already secured victory.  Our job is to proclaim that victory.  No political system can ever offer what is found in God’s Kingdom.  I am very proud to be an American citizen, but that will always be a secondary citizenship.  First and foremost we are citizens of the Kingdom of God and we cannot allow the enemy to use our political passion to divide us.   
I believe we can regain a positive voice as Christians here in America.  Let us unite around our King and focus on proclaiming His message.  Do not let political passion divide us, but rather let us be united by the passion Christ has shown us.  We have a message that can change the world, why spend so much energy on a political system that cannot. 

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