Politics are ugly. Especially in an election year.
Recent polls show this election is heating up, and the fury with which each side expresses their views seemingly deepens every day. Our Twitter feeds are overrun with quips and jabs at the opposing side, and frankly our Facebook pages have practically become a political obstacle course.
In the midst of all the mud-slinging, a political ambivalence is growing among young adults. A recent RELEVANT article points out the sad reality of this situation ::
If a liberal doesn’t like a conservative’s position, he calls the conservative ‘stupid, ’ ‘antiquated’ or ‘bigoted.’ If a conservative doesn’t like a liberal’s position, he calls the liberal ‘unpatriotic’ or ‘anti-God.’ Opponents of affirmative action are ‘racists, ’ pro-choice proponents are ‘baby-killers’ and those who hint at questioning gay marriage are ‘homophobes’ … This reliance on exaggerated and reductionist sound bites almost never captures the nuance or subtlety of the issues being debated.
For many, it’s better to just duck out of the conversation; in fact, many families have a ‘no politics at the table‘ policy. More than just a few friends of mine avoid the subject of the election for fear of triggering an argument. Some have even started to avoid me.
Because regardless of our partisanship, the bias we bring to the table of discussion will come to bear.
I often find myself failing to appropriately navigate this tension. I find it easier (in my context) to raise questions rather than to give definitive answers – particularly in an effort to inspire thoughtful conversation in this online community. Still, there is one phrase that continually rings true in my mind – whether you were more energized watching Clint Eastwood humorously talk to an empty chair or Bill Clinton verbally navigate the state of the union.
‘When your political views cause you to ignore the teachings of Jesus, that’s not patriotism – that’s idolatry.’
I understand Americans live in a great country. I really do. I am tremendously grateful for the personal freedoms I am afforded, and for the many perks that come with being a citizen of the USA.
…but my citizenship is in heaven.
When push comes to shove, as a follower of God in the way of Jesus, my primary concern must be tilted toward kingdom values, not American values. This is true regardless of the topic – national security, the economy, minority rights, education, foreign policy, tax breaks, et cetera.
No matter what the political topic, my position ought to be dictated by the divine desire for reconciliation of all things to God – and if it is not, then where my true allegiance lies has been exposed. Neither party has a monopoly on kingdom values. We were instructed to ‘give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.‘
Our alignment ought not to be with either candidate or political party, our allegiance to neither country nor flag. What should define us is not our patriotism or partisanship, but our persistence in begging through both word and action, ‘thy kingdom come.‘
Caesar Jesus is Lord. Let’s try to remember that during this election season.
Michael Kimpan is the author of the WayWard follower blog, a site designed to inspire thoughtful conversation and movement among followers of Jesus Christ. Michael worships and serves on staff as the Communications Director at Richwoods Christian Church in Peoria, IL.