A famous quote has been (falsely?) attributed to Leon Trotsky: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” I’m not here to debate the attribution of the quote. Instead, I want to put a spin on it. You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you. If you are like me, you wish that everything wasn’t so politicized. Why must everything be dragged into politics and politics dragged into everything? It’s infuriating, I know. It’s exhausting! Yes, it is. But we cannot walk away from it. Politics is interested in us.
Our nation is running from Christ in high-handed rebellion. We have denied the existence of the Creator. We have denied his authority over his creation. And, as a consequence, we are now denying creation as well. I repeat, our nation is a rebellious nation, and those who are hungry for power are trying their best to coerce all of us to deny what is plain and clear. You cannot run from this. You cannot turn it off. Every Christian in every city of America will be faced with choosing Christ or rebellion. Every church in every town will be forced to obey Christ or man. There is no middle ground. That being said, I want to share several principles I believe help us navigate these times of inescapable politics. I will briefly sketch out the principles here and hope to elaborate on them more in the future. Also, these are in no particular order of significance.
1. The Church is Political.
Every week we gather and proclaim that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” That statement has political ramifications. If Christ is Lord, the President cannot be Lord. City Councils cannot be Lord. Christians need to stop saying that churches aren’t political. Of course, they are. There is a reason that the Christian church is not allowed to worship freely in totalitarian states. It’s because they will not bow to “Dear Leader.” Totalitarian leaders know better than anyone that the church is political.
2. The Church Should Not Be Partisan.
It’s not the job of the church, as the church, to stump for candidates. We don’t have an American flag on our stage. We don’t put red, white, and blue bunting on the pulpit on July 4th. That’s because the church speaks for and represents a King and Kingdom which transcends all others. We love our nation because this is where the Lord has providentially placed us. But we never want to conflate the church and our nation. The church calls every tribe tongue and nation to bow the knee to Christ. And we must be careful to protect our ability to speak prophetically to every politician and platform. We are not the errand boy for any political party. I do not publicly endorse candidates in my official role as Pastor. If you want my opinions on who to vote for, I’ll be glad to tell you as a concerned citizen.
3. The Real Political Power of the Church is Spirit-Empowered Word and Ordinance, Not Voting.
The Church doesn’t expand through raw political force. Big Pharma may rely on lobbyists, but we rely on the Word of God. Our power, as Christians, is a “thus sayeth the Lord,” kind of power and against that weapon, there is no defense. We proclaim that Christ is King. We proclaim that abortion is evil. We proclaim that inflation is theft. We proclaim that marriage is between only a man and a woman. And, we ground all of that in the Word of the eternal God. The true power of the church is in the weapons of the Word, Baptism, and the Lord’s Table.
4. Voting Matters.
If we don’t like the way our town is being run, we have no one to blame but ourselves. In God’s kind providence, we live in a nation that calls upon citizens to elect representatives. Who you vote for matters. Not voting matters. You have been entrusted with an opportunity to make your will as a citizen known. Do you want Drag Queens telling stories to little children at the library? I don’t. God hates it. So, vote.
5. Voting Ought to be Strategic, Not Emotional.
It’s not my job to tell you who to vote for. It is my job to tell you not to worship candidates. Your vote needs to be made on strategic, rather than emotional terms. If the candidate you vote for wins, count it as a strategic victory, not an emotional one. It goes without saying that no candidate is perfect. And there may truly be elections in which you cannot in good conscience vote for either candidate. Obey your conscience. But make sure that you aren’t attaching too much emotional weight to your vote. Is one candidate a more Christ-honoring choice? Pick that one, pray and ask the Lord to bless your vote.
6. Read the Word.
You may not be able to draw a straight line from a Bible verse to a tax structure. But you can certainly draw a straight line from the Scripture to a pro-life stance. Where the Word is clear, our political stances ought to be crystal.
7. Prioritize Local Elections.
When kings overreach and become tyrants, it is the responsibility of lesser magistrates to oppose tyranny. Governors, Mayors, and City Councils are all intermediary officials who can stand up to federal overreach. Too many people wrongly believe the only elections that matter are the national elections. In fact, the election of Godly lesser magistrates matters more. Do not ignore local elections. For more info on this subject read The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates by Matthew Trewhella. If you want, you may borrow my copy.
8. Politics is a Battle of Competing Worldviews.
There’s no neutral ground in politics. There’s no such thing as private religion. Everyone’s fundamental beliefs shape the way they live which in turn shapes cultures and nations. It’s not “whether” religious beliefs will shape our governance, it’s “which” ones will shape it. Someone’s view of human beings will shape our laws. Someone’s views of marriage will shape our culture.
Even as I write these principles, I realize that I am summarizing, generalizing, and omitting various thoughts, applications, etc. I haven’t sought to address every concern or question these principles raise. As I said, I plan to continue explaining these ideas to our church in the days ahead. If you have questions, feel free to ask. We need more healthy dialogue about politics in our congregation. We need Christians who take these matters seriously. And, as we dialogue we must seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4) Ultimately, our unity is in the risen Christ, not a political platform. Many will stand beside us in the coming age who politically opposed us at points in this age. Christ will sort us all out on that day. Until then, we are duty-bound to represent his kingship to our nation.