Christians are supposed to be different from the rest of the world, not merely because we have higher moral aspirations, but because we have a radically distinct identity. As the Apostle Paul reminded the church in Corinth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17).
Becoming a Christian means receiving a new status as a child of God, a new desire to love and serve the Lord, a new power for godliness by the Spirit, a new family on earth in the local church, and a new mission for life in helping other people follow Jesus. United to Christ by faith, no aspect of our life remains untouched. Jesus lays claim to it all, including how we relate to people with different political opinions.
Sadly, politics can be a realm where Christians act just like the rest of the world. And I’m not talking primarily about which political opinions we hold. I’m talking about the way we hold our opinions, the way we communicate them, and the way we relate to those who think differently.
The latter pitfall is especially deadly in the church. In theory, we’re supposed to be united by our common faith in Jesus. We say Jesus is the foundation, not the way we vote. In practice, it’s easy for lesser glories to take his place, including our political party of choice. We silently scorn, readily vilify, or “politely” withdraw from all who dare to differ, functionally replacing Christ with a donkey, an elephant, or a combination of the two.
Jesus has something far better for us, friends. And it’s not called “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” He teaches us in his Word how to love church members with different politics in a way that keeps him, not our political preferences, at the center of our church. That won’t happen by accident, which is why I’m eager for our Community Groups to work through a booklet this fall entitled, “How Can I Love Church Members With Other Politics?” published by our friends at 9Marks in both English and Spanish.
The booklet is divided into two sections. The first section explores why we feel skeptical or angry toward fellow members amid political differences. What are the driving forces behind our thoughts and emotions? Are they good, bad, or a combination of both? The second section works through a series of six biblical recommendations for loving people with different politics. How does Scripture equip us to befriend and genuinely care for someone who trusts the same Savior and honors the same Bible, but reaches a different political conclusion?
The goal is not to have a political conversation. The goal is to have a Biblical conversation about our political conversations. We want all our conversations, politics included, to be delightfully and distinctively Christian. If you’re already part of a Community Group, your leader will be distributing free copies. If you’re not part of a Community Group, stop by the Bookshop on Sunday to get a copy and visit a group or two in October. If you would like to read the book in Spanish or listen to the book on audio, please see below.