In days gone by, I used to post on this blog much more often. And in those bygone days, I would often address political issues and even support presidential candidates
. In fact, my support of one candidate actually got the attention of a St. Louis area newspaper, and once they picked it up, it actually led to me being interviewed by the New York Times
. Ahh, the good old days when I was marginally famous for a fleeting second.
I still feel very passionately about political issues. I still believe that for Christian people to be good citizens of the land in which they live, in this nation anyway, means being involved in the political process. Voting to be sure, but even campaigning, writing letters to elected officials, etc. It's also a very practical thing. If you aren't involved, I tend to think you lose the right to complain.
In more recent times, not only has my output on this blog decreased significantly, but in these highly politicized times, I've chosen to remain silent on many of those issues. Again, it's not that my opinions are any less fixed, or honestly, that I have less of a desire to share those opinions. I sort of believe that everyone is entitled to my opinion. And in the days ahead, I make no promise that I won't feel that urge to sound off about an issue or two.
My lack of posting on those issues comes down to two basic things. One, because everything is SO highly politicized, because people are so hyped up about so many issues (some worth the hype, some not), and because it seems people are so easily offended, I'm just trying to be a bit more careful. Again, not that I don't think some issues are worth getting pumped up about (abortion, the LGBT agenda, free speech, to name a few). It's just that it seems no matter what you say, you end up making a bunch of people mad.
Not that I mind making folks mad. Not really. I mean, I like being liked as much as anyone. It's just that if I'm going to make folks mad, I want it to be for the right reasons. Which is the other basic issue I'm dealing with. I've become more and more convicted of the simple truth that as a Christian in general, and a pastor in particular, I need to be focused on seeking the Kingdom first.
Now, I understand that when Jesus uses that phrase in Matthew 6 during the Sermon on the Mount, He's speaking in the context of not being anxious. Don't worry about food and money and other worldly things, don't let those things make you anxious. Instead, Jesus says, seek first the Kingdom of God, and all the rest will be provided. So, politics isn't in mind at all here.
And yet, there is a principle in the idea of seeking first the Kingdom and trusting God with the rest that does apply to every area of our lives. Especially when we remember that as followers of Christ, our citizenship is in Heaven. Our first loyalty is to our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. And our first priority is the Commission He gave us to go and make disciples. To share the gospel. To see His Kingdom grow and expand in this world, even as we look to and long for the world to come.
Sadly, too many have equated the Kingdom with this or that earthly nation, this or that political cause. Too many have equated being a good Christian with being a good Republican or Democrat or Libertarian, or whatever. And don't misread this. I think there are some political issues and policies that absolutely should be supported/opposed by biblically minded Christians. For example, I don't see how any self-professing Christian could ever support abortion or those politicians who support it. Likewise, Scripture is clear on issues of sexuality and purity, and we ought to be clear in our stand on those issues, as well as supporting politicians and policies who are in agreement with the Scriptural view.
And yet, the reality is my focus needs to be on the Kingdom. Preach the Gospel. Make disciples. Because only changed hearts will change the world. Seek first the Kingdom, and let God handle the rest. Again, I'm not advocating holing up somewhere and ignoring this world. I still encourage folks to be involved. I still want to fight for my rights as a citizen the way Paul did in Acts 25.
But I choose to focus my attention first on the Kingdom. That's my true citizenship, and deserves my attention. This world will pass. This nation will pass. My hope is not in presidents and policies. The church has endured through so much worse, and will endure regardless of godless politicians and even persecution.
In the end, the cry of my heart is the same as the church through the ages: "Come, Lord Jesus!"