Let’s be honest—it’s easy for Americans to get caught up in the political furor of the presidential race. I don’t know the exact number, but I think I remember hearing somewhere that more Americans than ever are turning out for primaries and rallies. People are heavily invested in this race. And this is true on both sides of the aisle.
But Christians are too invested.
Yes, I said it. Christians care so much about this presidential election that they are letting go of God. Of course they don’t admit it.
Heck, they don’t even recognize it.
They will claim that they believe the way they do because of their faith. Funnily enough, people on all sides of any issue make the exact same claim. But I don’t think that faith is driving the Christian fervor. Not really. It’s not about spirituality. It’s not about the Gospel. It’s about a superficial cultural religion—not real Christianity. Look at the words of the apostle Paul:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practicesand have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:1-17)
Let’s break it down:
Our priority is to force God’s kingdom on to the nation. Where we are instructed to set our minds above, we choose to set our minds to November and re-creating a theocracy (which we never were, by the way—this was never God’s nation, and we were never God’s people “called by his name).
We revel in those things we are told to put away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk. Our candidates intentionally stir up these passions to rally us to their cause. This is not the Christian way. It’s political, sure, but not Christian.
Rather than seeing the unity of humanity in Christ, we highlight the differences between us. Now more than ever, we hear language of separation—language that creates an “us vs. them” mentality. This is not right.
We refuse to put on the attributes to which we are called: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and forgiveness.
If these are the things that Christians are supposed to focus on, to cut out of our lives, and to put into our lives, why are we completely ignoring God’s word?
My guess? It’s because we’re not really Christian. We’re social Christians. We believe in a God-like being who kind of cosmically started things, but we’re not actual Christians where we’d allow God to tell us that our behavior is atrocious and that it’s time to change.
This is not me advocating for not voting. As citizens we have a responsibility to vote. Even the apostle Paul knew how to use his Roman citizenship to accomplish his purposes. But Paul’s focus was not on being Roman. His focus was Jesus.
We’ve lost our focus on Jesus. We’re social Christians, but not actual Christians. When God wants to change us we say, “Forget that!” We’d rather change the world around us. It’s time to walk away from setting our sights (and our hopes) on the government.
Chris Linzey is husband to Tené, father to the three most beautiful children in the world, movie addict (seriously, if it’s on a screen he'll watch it—doesn’t matter how crummy or low-budget), and a Navy Chaplain, currently assigned to Naval Air Station, Meridian. Chris has a deep desire to help people live lives of faith where the Bible is more than mere words on a page, but the way we live everyday. His undergrad and Master’s studies were in Biblical Studies and he focused on the New Testament (his mentor was a Gospel of Mark scholar). He went on to get a Master of Divinity (MDiv) in Pastoral Preaching. Follow him at @chrislinzey.