by Greg Massey
This mid-term election has made me think that David Lipscomb was right after all—politics in the rough-and-tumble American republic is too toxic for Christians seeking first the kingdom of God. Our two-party system seems more broken than ever. American Christians view political choices as moral choices, but their options present moral dilemmas. Each election cycle, Christians face the choice of voting for political candidates from either party whose positions on specific issues conflict with God’s revealed word. In the election just past, for example, politicians made overt appeals to voters’ fears and ethnic prejudices.
Three Bible passages come to mind. First, Peter’s vision in Acts 10, the message he received that God had made all clean. Second, Paul’s announcement that in Christ all people, regardless of ethnicity or gender, are equal (Galatians 3:28). It is difficult for us today to grasp the great chasm these men crossed with the help of God. They saw the world through a culturally inherited lens that was over a thousand years old. Our views of people who are different, whether they be of a different color, or different nationality, or just have a different way of seeing the world, pale when compared to the Jewish prejudices against Gentiles. Peter and Paul didn’t bridge this gap because they could work miracles or were super spiritual in a way that we’re not. They were able to do it because they knew, as their friend and brother John wrote later, that the one who lived in them was greater than the one living in the world (1 John 4:4).
Peter, Paul, and John, and their fellow Jewish Christians undertook an amazingly radical spiritual journey, first, acknowledging Jesus as their Lord, then, as his disciples, following him on the path to full brotherhood with Gentiles. Their example helps me recognize two missing components that prevent me from seeing others as God sees them—faith and humility. Those others are not necessarily just those who differ from me in ethnicity, nationality, or skin color. Those others are also people with whom I simply disagree, people whose views on choices facing our nation differ from my own, or people whose views on matters of faith differ from my own. In other words, people who differ with me on those two issues families refrain from discussing at those forced gatherings during the holidays—politics and religion.
I think of the cry of the anguished father in Mark 9:23: “Help my unbelief.” Like him, I pray for faith. Also I pray for the patience to bear with my brothers and sisters as much as I need them to bear patiently with me. We’re all afflicted with blind spots. Our divisions over the blood sport that is the American electoral process reveals the blind spots of Christians on both sides of the political divide. I won’t be able to start locating and eradicating my own blind spots until I give myself totally in faith to the one who lives in me. Only he can heal my blind spots, removing the planks from my eyes. Only he can heal the blind spots of others, removing the specks from their eyes. And only he can heal our sick and divided land, one soul at a time.