There are few greater opportunities for parents to express the importance of faith than within the midst of a national election. Faith and politics will always be connected to each other, and each elicits strong emotions, but here are 5 truths Christian parents should teach their children:
No Politician—or Political Party—Owns God
Despite the constant rhetoric spewed about who is the most “Christian,” “Godly,” and “moral,” the reality is that no candidate or political party has the market cornered on God.
Despite testimonials of personal religious experiences, Biblical references, spiritual gestures, prophetic promises, and faith-based posturing, no political entity can entirely represent God. And although many will try to replace God as a source of hope, inspiration, and salvation, thousands of years of history has proven this to be a foolish endeavor.
Much of the God-talk is simply an attempt to pander to Christian voters, and commonly enters into the realm of sinful hypocrisy—where soliciting for Christian votes is simultaneously completely void of any of the fruits of the Spirit such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Government Isn’t Our Final Hope
It’s ok to be political, but it’s never ok to trust in any government entity more than God. It’s obvious that many Christians have idolized their political beliefs in ways that have superseded their faith and hope in Jesus, and this is never more obvious than when their political ideas and actions are completely anti-Christian and contrary to the example that Jesus set.
Governments can do a lot of good things, but they’ll never be able to provide people the peace, comfort, and security of Jesus.
While some political aspects will certainly be more Christ-like than others, governments and their leaders will always be co-opted by other secular agendas, circumstances, and events that will prevent them from overtaking the role that followers of Jesus are ultimately meant to play: bringing the goods news of Jesus to the world around us in the form of humble sacrifice, service, and love.
Political Leaders Don’t Make a Nation Christian or Non-Christian
To claim that any nation is Christian or non-Christian is a dangerous oversimplification, but it should be reiterated that the state of our corporate faith isn’t determined by one President, a single particular party, or any particular style of government.
When “Christian” Presidents and parties have been in control of our nation’s government, things such as slavery, segregation, racism, sexism, corruption, war, and rampant social injustices were widely commonplace and even rampant. Our society’s morality isn’t at the mercy of a few political leaders—it’s our own responsibility.
Additionally, Christian communities exist—and even thrive—around the world within many different types of government systems. No matter who is leading, what laws are created, passed, and enforced, or what our government ends up looking like, it’s up to us to follow God’s commands no matter what. Being like Jesus is more important than being Republican, Democratic, or even American.
Power Comes from Jesus, Not the Government
It’s hard to imagine not being content with having an all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent God, and yet Christians continue to crave more financial, militaristic, and social power through political systems.
The radical message of Jesus is that all our Divine power comes through following Christ, which is a power built upon selfless love—not aggressive violence, global growth, or political security.
Additionally, Governments shouldn’t be used by Christians as a form or pseudo-judgment, where they represent a faith and authoritatively become a form of morality police—controlling the masses via legislation to conform to Christian values, and punishing all those who don’t comply.
Promises of worldly power in the name of God under, any political banner, is a sign that people have lost faith in the gospel message of Christ.
Christians Can Have Differing Views…and Still Be Christian
Christianity is as complex as the people representing it, and is only perfectly represented by Jesus Himself. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Christians will support a wide variety of candidates, policies, platforms, and opinions—and still be Christian. Voting for one person over another doesn’t automatically damn you to eternal hell or guarantee God’s everlasting favor.
Just as Christianity itself has a vast array of denominations, sects, and traditions, Christian voters are influenced and motivated by differing platforms, attitudes, viewpoints, and thoughts.
Christians aren’t a synonymous group of people that believe that exact same things. In fact, beyond a few orthodox doctrines regarding Jesus as being Divine and dying on a cross–and ultimately being resurrected from the dead—Christians hardly agree about anything.
Certain political things will be more Christ-like than others, but politics itself will always be flawed simply because it’s a secular system establish upon worldly power and control. Ultimately, anything not founded up Jesus—including political systems—will fail.
Most importantly, as followers of Christ, we should never idolize politics by mistaking our worth and identity in anything beyond God. So no matter what your political opinions are, they should never contradict or supersede Jesus.
Follow Jesus. Love God and love people. Amen.
This piece is an edited version that the author originally published on redletterchristians.org