Politics and Religion

I’m old enough to remember when politics was a season, returning from time to time to disabuse us of our comfortable obliviousness. Now, primary, general, and runoff elections link local, state, presidential, and mid-term elections in a continuous stream of consciousness polluted by fear narratives.

Don’t get me wrong. Politics matters. Do your duty and vote! Support your candidate and your cause! It’s a citizen’s responsibility in our democratic republic. That said, let’s touch the third rail and mix politics and religion.

If you think about it, both politics and religion address change – what should or should not change. Political consultants and modern media use fear of the wrong kind of change to get more eyeballs, clicks, or votes. Here is my caution: Do not give in to political fear or go all in for political hope.

French philosopher Jacques Ellul warned denizens of the 20th century about politics becoming the ultimate source of power, hope, and change. Anyone who disagrees “is the true heretic of our day,” he writes. “And society excommunicates him as the medieval church excommunicated the sorcerer…This shows us that man in his entirety is being judged today in relation to political affairs, which are invested with ultimate value.” Today the culture still values political identity, but also looks for an “intersectionality” of multiple identities all used to measure your worth.

For the believer, the totality of your identity is Christ. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). That is something that does not change. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). The cultural and political ground may move beneath you, but “on Christ the solid rock I stand” the hymn says.

Remember the providence of God and His eternal perspective. “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands. They will perish but you remain” (Heb. 1:10-11). Our hope is in God who accomplishes His eternal purposes for this world and its nations, despite elections. “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord. He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1).

Jesus said you are in the world, but not of the world (John 17:11,14). You are a citizen of heaven, so you have no reason to fear the outcome of earthly politics. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?” (Psa. 27:1). Elections happen and you might be stunned at what’s changed, but the Lord is neither surprised nor deterred.

There you have it – politics and religion. Elections matter, but heaven’s citizens have other ways to catalyze change. Now join me in praying, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.