Mike Cope's blog

Monday, June 21, 2004

Here's my biggest beef with Christians and politics. I've known so many church-goers who can get whipped into a frenzy when political discussions come up but who seem to have little of the same passion with it comes to their faith and Christian community. I want to scream, "Folks, nations come and go. This one may, too. But the kingdom of God will be alive and well. Political parties (left and right) ebb and flow, but the reign of God is forever and ever."

16 Comments:

  • Mike, Mike, Mike my boy...

    Are you telling me that a.) I should spend more time with Jesus than with Bill O'Reilly? and b.) that God is not an American? and c.) that I should be more passionate about the salvation of my fellow man than I am about the "Hannitization" of them?

    Surely not.

    You commi.

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 6/21/2004 07:20:00 AM  

  • Could it be our absolute assurance of the eternal perspective, and our citizenship in the Kingdom of God that causes some to not be that passionate in discussing it? Also, if everyone agrees with you, where's the excitement of pressing your point?

    Neither of these two apply to our political discussions, imho. Also, there's no reference 'book' for us to rely on - to hold up our politics against, as there is when discussing the Kingdom.

    Also, it could be that we're just plain contrary and prefer talking about a constantly changing panorama, as is the case with politics, rather than the Kingdom, which is already a done deal for believers. Kind of like our dedication to discussing our illnesses rather than our good health. Hmmmmm?

    (now I'll attempt to remove tongue from cheek) ;)

    By Blogger Kathy, at 6/21/2004 07:25:00 AM  

  • Joel,

    Enough people are already shocked enough when they find out Jesus wasn't a white man and he didn't speak Elizabethan English -- I don't think they could digest the fact that God is not an American.

    Baby steps.

    By Blogger Q, at 6/21/2004 10:08:00 AM  

  • Mike, I don't disagree with what you wrote, but here is my biggest beef about Christians and politics. I know of some Christians who will sever fellowship ties over the least of "doctrinal" differences, but then will support and vote for candidates that take the most horrendously immoral positions on certain issues. I simply do not understand that. But then, I prefer Fox News to CNN so that may explain my confusion. ;-D

    By Blogger Jim Shelton, at 6/21/2004 10:14:00 AM  

  • **a comment in which I probably open an ugly can of slimy, squirmy worms**

    All kidding aside, I have a Christians/politics issue that bugs me, too.

    All manner of people will decide for whom they are voting based a single issue-- often the question of pro-life versus pro-choice. I'm not suggesting that it's an unimportant issue -- just that I'm not sure it should be the only issue that decides an election.

    I've seen a double standard that disturbs me. People say they won't vote for one candidate because s/he supports the pro-choice platform. Others say they won't vote for a candidate because s/he doesn't mention God often enough (or because we don't have enough video footage of his or her presence inside a church building). And while I agree that in a sense one's vote does ratify the morality of the candidate to a degree, I sometimes have problems understanding the way a lot of Christians approach voting.

    Quite honestly, whether the president is pro-choice or pro-life hasn't proven to be important either way; nothing changes. I'm not entirely sure it's something we can legislate. There's also a sliding scale in "evaluating" the sins of the leader: Is being pro-life really any better than being concerned for the well-being of children who are dying of poverty, disease and easily preventable afflictions? And is talking about God really any good if it doesn't manifest itself in some way that benefits mankind? No one seems ever really to be particularly bothered when a leader is simply a bad steward, either.

    I just can't understand a lot of things about the way we use our freedoms. We'll never be able to elect a leader who'll "solve" everything for us -- it's not meant to work that way. We'll never put an end to the evil we find ourselves having to legislate against if we never reach the hearts and minds of the ones who are caught up in those lifestyles, committing those sins, or engaging in those practices, regardless of legislation.

    If we're not doing our job as Christians and reaching people, I'm not altogether convinced that even electing Jesus would do us much good. I think he knew that, too; he's turned down that kind of kingship before.

    I know I'm rambling, too. There's a lot I'd like to say, but I'm sure blogger would eventually halt the length of this comment.

    By Blogger Q, at 6/21/2004 10:40:00 AM  

  • Maybe this is an instance of where you stand depends on where you sit. Or more aptly, where some interests lie. I am not passionate about guacomole even though it is astoundingly good on chips. I am not overly fond of baseball even though it is America's past time. I am happy for it to be someone else's interest and passion. I don't often make great assumptions about their spiritual life because they talk about those subjects a great deal.

    I do have a passion for government. I am also conservative. I have wondered since I was a small child what the end of an empire (for lack of a better term) looked like to its last generation. There are days that I think I will find out. That does not mean it comes before my spiritual life.

    If you don't like Cal Thomas, don't read him. If you are not a fan of Fox News, don't watch. But please have the courtesy to not be rude (at best) to those of us who do. It strikes me as somewhat hypocritical to post about how others are make judgments based on limited data. We conservatives (even those of us who are compassionate conservatives) also are made in the image of the Father.

    By Blogger Tina, at 6/21/2004 12:08:00 PM  

  • My biggest beef is the kind of passion we get whipped into, political or spiritual.

    Too often we are "speaking the truth" or "in love" and never the two shall meet. We're dropping the hammer down or we're avoiding that important discussion with that person we "care" about. I wish the passion we had in our politics (both national and spiritual) had more to do with justice and mercy than it did with left or right.

    The fact is that its easier to choose a side and scream than it is to stand humbly in the presence of God and choose your issue based on His leading. Its easier to live in a world where Christianity and the Republican party are the same or where Democrats can snidely imply that Republicans think they are. I don't know the answer here. Our faith has to inform our lives and that includes our politics, and I make decisions about my President through the lenses of my faith as much as the next guy. But I try and remind myself that its the faith that informs the politics and not the other way around. That my identity is found in Christ alone and that I don't draw together with church people because of a common love of pizza, politics, or prison films. I join with them through a common love for Christ.

    When that's true, we can still disagree, but its a whole different animal. A friend of mine used to comment after dinners at my house "man, your family argues great." With a mom that is a Republican and a dad that is a democrat, 4 siblings all over the map, with different feelings about almost everything under the sun, you'd think we'd develop a real hatred for one another. But we were a family first and political adversaries a distant second. I wish the church could get that concept.

    By Blogger chrismith, at 6/21/2004 12:32:00 PM  

  • Whew. Tina, whose blog are you reading, girl?

    Did anyone express disapproval for passion about politics? Certainly not me. My beef is with people who care more about a certain brand of politics than they seem to about Christian faith and community. We have to remember that we are "strangers and aliens in this world." America may be long gone in 200 years. But the kingdom of God will continue to break in.

    Passionate about politics? Go for it! But remember that your primary narrative is that of Jesus and the church--not that of America or a political party. And remember that you are in community with brothers and sisters who vote differently. I've been in churches where most people can't understand how someone can be a Republican and a Christian; and I've been in churches where most people can't understand how someone can be a Democrat and a Christian. Ah, the sweet family of God!

    And I certainly disagree with your conclusion that one who doesn't like Cal Thomas shouldn't read Cal Thomas. Yikes! That's the kind of polarizing thinking that gets us into trouble. I want people who don't like Molly Ivens' ideas to read her columns. She's a brilliant writer. When you disagree, you have a right to engage in compassionate dialogue. And I want people who don't like Cal Thomas's writing to read what he writes. You can learn a lot from what he writes. And when you don't agree, you can engage in the same kind of thoughtful dialogue.

    By your thinking, Tina, one might say, "YOU DON'T LIKE HIS BLOG? DON'T READ IT!" I certainly wouldn't say that. But can you let me state some opinions without believing that I'm questioning your intelligence or faithfulness to Christ?

    By Blogger Mike, at 6/21/2004 01:40:00 PM  

  • I guess I'll take a turn at this one ...

    It seems to me that, in an open, democratic society that calls on its citizens to be involved in self-governance, Christians can and should properly involve themselves in the democratic process - not for purposes of pressing our own agendas - but for purposes of advancing the Kingdom. (I'm going to avoid being too pragmatic about WHAT we ought to be saying and doing - else I'll risk sparking an ugly debate about whether someone like Cal Thomas or someone like Jesse Jackson has better ideas on the subject!)

    Having said that, I have two HUGE concerns about Christians and politics:

    First, HOW Christians go about engaging in political dialog may say more about us than WHAT we have to say. We live in an angry world, and American politics are all about being angry at the people on the other side of the issue. For political interest groups, the process is all about finding a "spin" that stirs up the political ire in its constituents. Such ire generates votes, money, and dialog that is favorable to the group's interests. And it works. But when Christians enter into the political fray - "spinning" away at all of their issues in an effort to stir up ire in other Chrisitans (usually, against non-Chrisitans) - it seems contrary to what the gospel is all about.

    Second, there is always the risk that we will become too obsessive with politics. Remember Jesus' answer to the question about paying taxes to Ceasar? "Just pay your taxes already and focus on seeking out the Kingdom instead!" (a SLIGHT paraphrase, I admit, but it hopefully preserves the spirit of the original).

    For most of us, at least, I don't think the call to discipleship will take us down a path where a huge percentage of our energies are focused on political dialog. That doesn't mean it isn't important at all. It just means that, in the end, our lives should be focused on winning spiritual, not political victories.

    By Blogger Matt, at 6/21/2004 01:53:00 PM  

  • Sorry, Mike, that post has been building for some time. I do read Molly Ivins, by the way, but I like Ellen Goodman better. The only thing Ellen Goodman and I agree on politically is that Geraldine Ferrarro shouldn't have done that Diet Pepsi commercial.

    I have read this blog for a couple of months. I like it. There are times when I laugh at your days and there are times that I cry at the memories.

    We are totally in sync with Diet Dr Peppers.

    Maybe the reactions we are having with each other's posts are reactions through the lenses we use. And tongue in cheek is so hard to visualize in posts.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/21/2004 01:55:00 PM  

  • Would it be a surprise to find that most people decide their political affiliation the same way they have decided their religious (church membership) affiliation? "My family has always been a member of the ........."

    If so, it is much easier for this type of personality to speak boldly and with authority about political 'mush'. But it's tougher for them to maintain a conversation that might expose them to a true life changing commitment.

    In many cases they have read more about their political choice and more frequently, than they have about their God.

    It seems in one you get a vote that may count, in the other you don't.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/21/2004 06:50:00 PM  

  • What happened to Guacamole and foot pampering? I miss the good old days. That's it! Mike, I'm not reading your blog anymore unless you talk about mindless stuff that is not the least bit divisive. You know, closing Walmarts and oiling gloves. OK, so I'll read it every day ... but only to find the truly tame/lame stuff.

    Mr. Pot-stirrer you are!

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 6/21/2004 09:01:00 PM  

  • OK OK I get the God over country thing.
    I do have a problem though when "Christians" look at any field... politics, education, entertainment, the military, sports, etc and decide it's not a "Christian" business or atmosphere and turn away from it. If we all turn away then who does that leave to govern our country, teach our kids, decide what is in our movies, represent and fight for our nation, and be cool sports models for our kids?
    Hum... I guess that would be NON-Christians. We can't all be preachers, stay home Moms and college professors. Some people have a passion for things others do not. Some people can express their passion for Bush or Kerry more easily than they can their passion for Christ. Does that mean that I diminish my passion for Christ by having a passion for politics? Can I not love God and love my country? Do we all have to be the same type of Christians and express ourselves the same way? Some people get wound up about politics because they feel they can make a difference and they have a vote. Sometimes our "Christian communities" are not places we feel we have much to really contribute to, though Jesus is our reason for living. Some of us just feel our talents and passions best serve Him in other arenas. I totally respect you Mike, but in this matter I think we disagree. Disagree doesn't mean dislike.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/22/2004 07:52:00 AM  

  • I LONG for the Kingdom of Heaven and being with Our Father and Our Saviour. Lord, PLEASE come this week!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/22/2004 10:07:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Beverly Choate Dowdy, at 6/24/2004 01:04:00 PM  

  • If they had those cute little 'emoticons' here -- I would have to select the smiley-face-turned-red-faced one. To the point - I went back and trash-canned my previous response. Mike, you nailed me, brother. And now I have to ask myself, why DO I get so frenzied over a political discussion? Actually, I get frenzied over religious ones, too -- but the bottom-line is, why get so exercised over the temporal stuff? Could the chink in my spiritual armor be... trust?

    My salvation is not in the Republican Party. Thank God!

    By Blogger Kevin Hammond, at 6/24/2004 02:35:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home