Politics in our country feels heavy—heavier than ever—to the point that many have seemed to make their political identity their religion. Political issue evangelism is rampant. People are being martyred (figuratively) for not being extreme enough. Political parties have become extremely polarized. One quick scroll through a Facebook feed tells the whole story. Sadly, Christians are being sucked in.
Why is this happening? Why are things getting so heated and people becoming so hostile? Many want to point to an elevated social and cultural climate, but what we have to realize is that it’s more than that. The answer is theological.
Searching for Purpose
The atheist says that life is purposeless or that it is what one makes it to be. According to their worldview, humans are to live in such a way that gives them purpose or meaning… or not. Once you die life is over. Such a worldview means this life is everything. The stakes are high. Whatever you decide your purpose is, you only have so many days to achieve it.
Taken to an even deeper level, many people make their purpose their identity. So any threat to one’s purpose or agenda is now personal because it becomes a threat to that person’s identity. Feeling as though your very identity and existence is threatened triggers extreme defense resulting in extreme reactions.
Played out this means that when one decides that their purposes and identity in life are associated with the same purposes and agendas of a political party then that party gains from that person a level of extreme devotion. To threaten the political party is to threaten the identity of the individual who has bound his or herself up in the ideologies of said party. When two parties are opposed to each other and individuals have so identified themselves with one party or another then the result is extreme polarization.
So how is this theological? Simply put, humans—whether they acknowledge it or not—are made in the image of God. Every single human’s true identity is image bearer of the one living God. This is why humans (above any other created thing) have the utmost value. This is why when injustice is committed toward a human, it is such a great offense.
Humans are made for relationship with God. The Bible tells us that relationship was broken when the very first humans disobeyed God. Those first two thought they knew better than their perfect Creator. Every one of us has that same problem. We think we know better than God. Rather than worshiping Him, we make idols and point our worship toward them instead. Whether it be money, status, politics, or ultimately ourselves, we all are rebelling against our true identity.
This is why Jesus is such good news. Jesus, God’s only Son, came and lived a perfect life totally wrapping His identity up in His Father (which we can’t do). He then was unjustly murdered taking on the wrath of His Father for sinners. Three days later He rose from the grave and defeated death. Because of this, He brought restoration to the broken. He changed the identities of idolaters from enemies to friends. He made it possible to find true purpose in this life, not purposes we fabricate for ourselves.
Your political party can’t save you. People believe their party to be one of promise and hope for a brighter and better future. Your party is imperfect. They will lie to you. They will let you down. They aren’t right on every single issue. They ultimately won’t bring you life and fulfillment.
If you’re an atheist reading this, please know that you have value. You’re made in God’s image. Only He can bring you the life and purpose you are searching for. Only He won’t let you down. Only He was willing to sacrifice what was most precious to Him to actually bring hope for the future. I would implore you as you read this to stop making idols and worship the one true God.
If you’re a Christian reading this, please know that it’s tempting to champion a political party, but political parties are not God. They are not perfect or infallible. America is not the kingdom you’re living for. You’ve been saved to a true and better kingdom that will be made up of every nation, tribe, and tongue and believe it or not—yes—Republicans and Democrats. Don’t be hostile about politics, but please realize we are called to follow Jesus and love those we might even consider our enemies.
Imperfect rulers are put in place by God to help hold things in order, but also to make us long for a better kingdom. We should be longing for a kingdom where the ruler is good and perfectly just. Jesus is that ruler. He has come and will come again. Next time you’re tempted to get in a political argument, take a moment and see the person opposed to you as made in God’s image and having incredible value.