So the question becomes: how, then, does a Christian interact with politics in a faithful manner? How do we live as Christians and Americans? One friend asked me recently, very pointedly, "Do you vote?"
And the answer is, yes. Yes, we vote. We vote our conscience and our morals and our heart. We vote with our vision for what America is and what she should become. We vote because we know that our founding fathers understood that America would be guided by the faith and the morals of the leaders that she elects, and certainly, there is value to ensuring our voices are in the conversation. We vote because God told us to live in the world that He gave us, to be active participants in this life that He has called us to.
But we have to vote knowing that our vote, and the outcome of any election, is not the most important thing. It's not even in the top twenty. If we were to make a list of things that matter in our lives, things that we value, things that influence the way that we actually live, politics isn't the top of the list for any of us. We start closer to home, with our family, our friends, our neighbors, our communities, our ministries, our service. When we start to list off what we value in life, donkeys and elephants just aren't up there. And yet, in times like these, we all pretend it's the most important thing in the whole world.
More important, even, than our faith.
And some have asked, how can we even keep being Christians, though, if we don't have a government that supports our religious freedoms, let alone our religious views? How are we supposed to keep living a life of faith if the American culture doesn't at the very least support our right to do so? We need Christian politicians, they say, because Christian politicians make our Christian worship possible.
I think Daniel would have something to say about that.
Daniel was living in a Babylon that not only didn't support his Christian faith, but they made it punishable by death. What did he do? He went into his room, positioned himself by his window, and he prayed anyway. He refused to bow down to the statute that Babylon worshiped (to the culture of the land where he lived), and he put his life on the line.
American Christians have gotten so comfortable. We think that our faith ought to be protected from persecution, that we ought to have a pass somehow against the kind of real trouble from the world that God's people have always faced. Read the Bible. Every page is filled with persons choosing faith over all else, choosing God when it's not convenient or easy, putting their lives actually on the line for what they believe is the highest thing.
And here we are, fighting over politics because we think that somehow, politics threatens our faith. No, my friends. Our entitlement threatens our faith. Our notion that our faith ought to be safe and clean and protected threatens our faith. There is no special provision anywhere for the American church, that she should never face persecution.
What we have to decide is whether or not we're going to continue to be a people of faith when we do face it.
The truth is, when it comes to politics, it matters what happens to America, but it doesn't matter that much. It's not the highest thing. It's not the biggest thing. Nations live and die all the time. Boundaries shift and cultures change and human stuff happens, but God remains. And if we have our lives wrapped up first and foremost in Him, then we can let go of politics. We can let go of our fear about what happens if X or Y person gets into power or if this or that party starts making our decisions. Not because its impact on our lives isn't real but because, in the face of faith, its impact on our lives doesn't matter.
God has called us to be in this world, not of this world. When we take that seriously, we put our feet down on Solid Rock and live with our hands open. Whatever happens, happens. Because Jesus already lived, already died, and yet, still lives again and that doesn't change with the winds. The center of the Christian faith has never been Washington, D.C., and it's never going to be. (Although, let's be honest, how terribly close we are to believing that it is.) The center of the Christian faith is an empty tomb in the shadow of a Cross.
And if we could all live a little more like that, then we'd start to get a true godly perspective on everything else - politics included. And then maybe, just maybe, we'd understand what He's been trying to tell us about them all along.