March 9th, 2016

I’ve managed so far to remain pretty silent in this rancorous political season, frequently reminding myself that I am fasting this Lent from being a jerk. But this week I find myself simply shaking my head in disbelief asking, “What the ____ is going on?”

Many of us who identify ourselves as Christians are allowing ourselves — and Christ’s Church — to be hijacked for partisan, political purposes. At best, many of us have remained silent about the blatant racism and hatemongering that are fueling some campaigns and polluting the airwaves and political process. At worst, some of us have become complicit, hitching our wagons to the stars of politicians and platforms that little reflect the love and inclusive community of Christ.

As Christians, we must be able to distinguish the radical nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ from American civil religion and the tribalism of partisan politics. Politics matter, and Christians need to be involved. God holds nations accountable for the assurance of justice for the alien, orphan and widow regardless of ethnicity or creed. Why was God’s judgment spoken against Israel through the prophet Amos? “They crush the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way” (Amos 2:7). We must learn to participate in the political process while refusing to participate in demeaning, divisive partisanship. We must not allow Christianity to be co-opted by those who would use it to gain political power for themselves.

It has happened before. When we submit the gospel to worldly political ideologies, the gospel becomes a corrupted tool to support the demonic influences of slavery, holocausts, expressions of nationalistic superiority, gender and racial discrimination of all varieties and war. Constantine used the symbol of Christ’s cross as the expression and excuse for war and world dominance. Hitler, a professed Catholic, used the Bible as a means to manipulate the minds of the German people for an evil consequence.

The church stands in prophetic tension with all earthly political systems and becomes corrupted when used in a supportive role for political ideologies of any flag or color. We must stop making the word of God subservient to politics or any other of our self-serving institutions. Until we do, is it any wonder that so much of our contemporary Christian witness is falling on deaf ears? We will have impact when we show the world what it means to value people over partisanship.

Mike Slaughter is the almost four-decade chief dreamer and lead pastor of Ginghamsburg Church and the spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations. Mike’s call to "afflict the comfortable" challenges Christians to wrestle with God and their God-destinies. His newest book is The Christian Wallet: Spending, Giving, and Living with a Conscience. For more on this blog's topic, see Hijacked: Responding to the Partisan Church Divide.

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