The presidential candidates have been campaigning for quite some time and there’s plenty of conjecture about which Republican the nation’s Evangelicals are going to support. Here’s my take on Christians and politics:
Beginning in the early 1970s, at the instigation of dominionist theologians like R. J. Rushdoony and Francis Schaeffer, pastors and para-church leaders began the campaign to “reclaim America for Christ.” They argued that America was a Christian nation but that it was sliding into secularism and it was up to Christians to return the country back to some kind of theonomy. Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority ended up leading the charge in the late 70s into the 80s. The pastor of the Baptist church I attended back in the 1980s used to preach thinly-veiled Republican politics from the pulpit all the time. The “reclaim America for Christ” campaign has definitely lost a lot of traction since the heady Reagan years but Republicans still cater to the religious/conservative Evangelical “voting bloc.”
But the Bible says only people can become Christians, not countries. The Bible says when we accept Christ as our Savior we become citizens of a new nation in Heaven (Philippians 3:19-21). We are just foreigners, pilgrims, and sojourners while here in this world (1 Peter 2:11). Yes, the Bible says we are to be good examples; obeying the laws (when they don’t oppose God’s laws), paying our taxes, and praying for governmental leaders so the Gospel will continue to go out (1 Timothy 2:1-3), but too often we Christians in America act like this is our home. We have set our eyes on this world instead of above and our roots go very deep. It oftentimes seems like the most nationalistic and patriotic of Americans are Christians. Can anyone imagine Paul or the other New Testament writers promoting national pride and patriotism? Oy! You won’t read ANYTHING resembling such a thing in the New Testament. The focus was always on Christ, NOT on the nation (or city or area) the early Christians happened to be living in.
Does God really care about the imaginary boundary line that separates the United States from Canada? Does God love Americans more than Mexicans? When we appear before the Lord do you think it will matter one iota what country we lived in? So why are we soooooo prideful when it comes to what country we happen to reside in? Our brothers and sisters in Christ are scattered all over the world. Do we have more in common with our unbelieving fellow Americans than with our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in other countries?
The church in America strayed from reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ to engaging in politics and culture battles. If we Christians in America were half as enthusiastic about evangelism and discipling new Christians as we are about politics and the qualifications (or lack thereof) of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio we might actually make a difference in this place that’s not our home.
I realize a post like this one will rankle more than a few Christians. The line between being a responsible community member and being a nationalistic patriot isn’t always well-defined. This is an issue Christians have wrestled with for centuries. But remember to keep your eyes on your home above. You’re just a pilgrim here.
Postscript: Did I write, “responsible community member“? Ach! What a dummy I am at times. I should have written “responsible emissary to the community.” That’s more like it! Christians need to think more in terms of being emissaries and ambassadors of our Lord in Heaven rather than being deep-rooted, prideful, nationalistic patriots.