Certain topics can create division, friction and tension if not communicated in a civil manner. Yet, when words are accompanied by a loving spirit, the gospel and politics can be persuasive. One of my friends ran for the House of Representatives in the state of Delaware. Up against a heavily democratic district, Bryan needed to introduce himself to complete strangers, express his political views and convince several hundred voters to switch parties. This task required a dedicated team of volunteers. Initially, I told my wife that I would commit to being part of the ground team, going house to house to drop off pamphlets to potential voters each weekend. Just as Christians experience lukewarm stages, at some point my heart wasn’t into surrendering my weekends. I guess you can say, I wasn’t dedicated to due do what was necessary for victory. While Bryan received one of the largest percentages of votes for a Republican, his campaign to represent the 5th district ended in defeat.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many, Mark 10:45.
During the first century, an obscure carpenter from Nazareth, a shady town overrun by crime began a three year campaign. While lacking the finances to make a big political splash, Jesus turned to mainly blue collar individuals, fishermen from the Sea of Galilee. After John the Baptist’s death, Jesus began to travel from town to town, visiting local synagogues. Before long, crowds of people started following this motley crew as rumors of faith, healings and miracles spread. Oddly, anyone who experienced these supernatural events were told to keep quiet, unheard of in any type of political campaign. As followers increased, curious spectators began to see that Jesus was the real deal, a person who practiced what he preached. This fact only endeared the masses to this uneducated man. When Jesus began to be embraced like a rock star, jealousy spread among political and spiritual leaders. This threat resulted in false accusations, gossip and slander to squash Jesus’ popularity. Yet, after three years of serving, teaching and visiting strangers, Jesus became a man of the people, king of the Jews.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace, 1 Peter 4:10.
The only way for the gospel and politics can work together is if genuine faith unites with statesmanship. Modern debates has turned to identity politics, putting one class, occupation or race against the other. If there is a disagreement, the non-conformist is immediately labeled as a bigot, homophobe or racist. If an opponent can convince potential voters that a candidate is extreme, embellishments, half truths and lies will continue to bombard citizens every election season. Some where along the way, good news has been watered down by endless smear ads. The word gospel comes from and old English phrase godspel, meaning good news or tidings. It’s hard to be positive in a negative environment, especially when shrewd politicians use raw emotions to stir up their base. Yet, why does the negative make national headlines daily while good stories are avoided, disregarded or go unnoticed? Perhaps, its time for modern politicians to follow the Jesus model. Serve one another, help the poor, feed the needy and extend a loving hand to the unwelcomed. If future leaders begin here, you won’t need a campaign advertisement to get you elected. Rather, the people who see the love of Jesus displayed by you will form loyal supporters to stand by your side through thick and thin. This is the possibility of the gospel and politics.
by Jay Mankus