As a Christian, defining the relationship between one’s faith and politics can be extremely difficult. Far too many self-proclaimed Christians are easily swept into the hurricane that is our current political landscape, which is marked by polarization, constant arguments, and acrimonious language. Both sides are guilty of this behavior. It is often a challenge for Christians to escape with their own character unscathed. It is imperative, however, that Christians protect themselves from this character assault, especially when involved in a realm as vitriolic as politics. Here are five tips for the Christian to keep in mind in political activism.
Don’t forget who you represent
Many are too quick to slap on a label without acknowledging the responsibility that comes with it. Christians bear the name of the risen Savior, Jesus Christ. He is our Creator, Ruler, and Lord. Our job as followers of Christ is to point others toward Him in speech and conduct. This includes our political atmosphere, which is so plagued by anger and hatred. To represent Christ means to live contrary to these characteristics of our world. We are called to love. Rather than following the examples of divisive political figureheads and partaking in un-Christlike behavior, remember Whose name you bear. In practice, this can be as small as not engaging someone in a petty “twitter war” and remembering that you are called to speak wisely, or it can encompass something of a greater magnitude. However, in any case, it means keeping in mind Who your Lord is and acting like He is your Lord.
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so…that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…”
Pray for your leaders
Our leaders, for better or worse, have great authority in our lives. They make our nation’s laws and influence our governmental practice.Their power is not resigned to lawmaking decisions, though; their behavior often translates to the actions of the people they serve. In a nation marked by such discord and disunity between our political leaders, this polarization permeates the political hierarchy all the way down to the citizens who elect these leaders. In light of this, we should actively pray for our government officials. We should pray for them not only in their lawmaking decisions, but for their behavior in general. If we want a country with people who act in a unified and God-honoring manner, it is essential to have leaders who live this way, too. People in power will inherently impact those they have power over, so we ought to pray that their influence is positive.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
1 Timothy 2:1-2
Don’t compromise your faith
A Christian’s faith is the most significant aspect of his or her life. Under no circumstances should a Christian compromise his or her faith-based convictions for political expediency. Too many people, specifically those in power, exploit Christian principles to suit their personal agenda. Do not be one of those people. Our faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation of our lives; anything else, like political opinions, should be the outpouring of that basic principle. The faith we have in Christ is true; do not let the dirtiness and confusion of the political realm corrode that unfailing reality.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Stay in the word
The Bible is a guidebook for our lives. Christians should be in His Word every single day. For politicos especially, the Bible is our compass in terms of what we believe and how we exercise that belief. If you are confused on how to respond to a political issue or a person you are respectfully debating, look into His word. Developing the habit of looking to the Bible in every situation is integral for spiritual growth. The Bible may not directly address every political issue we deal with currently, but it can teach us how to best respond to these issues.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
Remember who is in control