Which side are you on?
Conservative or liberal? Democrat or Republican? Tea Partier or progressive?
The list of political labels grows longer every year, and the task of trying to figure out where we fall on the political spectrum has become an ever-moving target.
For Christians, the task is even more difficult. How do we discern which party or cause to align with? We constantly evaluate the landscape of leaders and rallies and campaigns and look for the “best” option while knowing that none of them are perfect.
But is this a game that Christians should even be attempting to play?
Honestly, probably not.
The biggest issue at play here is identity. As Christians, our identity should be rooted in Christ alone. There are aspects of our identity that are important characteristics of who we are, our heritage and our personality. But nothing should supercede our identity in Christ.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28
But political parties and movements ask a lot of their followers. They want you to fully identify with them. And if you don’t go “all-in,” then it’s hard to be considered a true member of the party. It’s a level of blind allegiance and identity that hinders our ability to identify as Christ’s alone.
To be fair, there are numerous other identities that compete for our allegiance to Christ alone. Sports teams, colleges, nationalism, gender, race, career, etc. All of those must be put in their correct place under our identity as a Christian.
But back to political parties.
Apart from the identity problem, Christian also must not be blinded by party allegiance to support the wrong cause or the wrong candidate. We MUST maintain independence and a commitment to certain values and morals that compel us to not support our preferred “side” when they are in the wrong.
Christians need to free themselves from the labels of modern politics. Not only because associations with political parties can limit the effectiveness of our witness, but also because no party practically and properly addresses all the issues Christians should care most deeply about.
Simply put, we are always going to end up disappointed and disillusioned.
We must drop the label/identity game and start pouring our energy into serving people and solving problems, no matter which side of the political spectrum appears to care most about them. Think of how freeing it would be to actually work to solve a problem based on the merits of the solutions, rather than being biased depending on which side proposed the solution.
The goal should be to address specific issues (fight poverty, improve education, end sex trafficking, make healthcare more affordable, etc.) and support quality candidates, no matter which side of the aisle they represent.
And honestly, a greater goal could be to work toward a political culture that is more built on compromise and independent thinking. Spend money on those kinds of political campaigns or causes. Or better yet, volunteer to support those, or run for office on that platform.
There will be times that we can’t budge on an issue and remain true to our faith at the same time. Those moments will require deep discernment and strong conviction. But there are many, many issue and problems where compromise and progress are low-hanging fruit. Christians, above all others, should be the ones leading those conversations. We should be for unity and reconciliation over victory, as all victories on this earth are temporary in light of the eternal victory that has already been won.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:2-3