It’s more than a year before the election and the heat is already on. Religion, as usual, is used as part of the public discussion in that typical American way, and both Democrats and Republicans claim that the true spirit of Christianity is on their side; Republicans usually from a more conservative or traditional perspective, and Democrats often from a more liberal or progressive one – or even atheist one, saying things along the lines of, “I don’t believe in Jesus, but even I can tell that the Gospel is on my side!”
And yet none of us knows the mind of God 100%, nor the mind of our neighbor, such as to judge the sincerity of their faith or lack thereof (at least, Jesus tells us not to judge them; Luke 6:37…).
What we do know is that, according to the Bible, Jesus wasn’t/isn’t on the side of any political party, nor of the self-righteous (which abound on both sides of the aisle in every government) (Luke 18:9-14). He was/is on the side of the poor, of sinners, and of the humble (Luke 4:18; Luke 2:17; Matthew 11:29). He was/is on the side of those who know they need redemption and are willing to at least try to repent from their sins and love their neighbors as themselves, to be generous towards and care for others – especially those in need – as God has has been generous towards and cared for them (Luke 7:47; John 13:34; Matthew 25:34-40; 1 John 3:17; etc.).
There are also people of this kind on both sides of the political spectrum, although they may vary widely in their views on how to understand and implement these principles, and on which have greater emphasis or priority, in the context of government, civil society, the private sector and the nonprofit sector.
In the end, we are all incomplete, limited, at times mistaken, and in need of growth in understanding and in love. I am certainly on the list of sinners in need of forgiveness, better knowledge and understanding, and growth. I also aspire to be on the list of those who are trying to be better people despite weakness and failings.
Sometimes – perhaps especially during election season – I look at myself, our country and our world and just see a hopeless mess of inconsistencies, self-interest, tribalism, closed-mindedness, short-sightedness, greed, injustice and ignorance. However, there again I have to remember not to judge the hearts of anyone, my own included, but rather to do my best in my own life to love in deeds, not just in words (James 4:12; 1 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 3:18-23).
I’m not proposing that either party get up and read the Bible and hold hands during a debate. But I do wish that, as a nation, we could rally around the basic principles that are held in common by most religions and non-religious people of good will, such as looking out for the good of all, not just of our own party or our own country; respecting the dignity and life of every human being, and of all forms of life; making responsible and informed use of world resources; and recognizing that the only way forward towards a successful future for our people and our planet is for us to join forces. We must lay aside our selfishness, greed and tribalism in order to find common ground; we must seek fairness and respect for all, and mutual understanding, caring for those most in need, if we are to deserve survival as a nation and as a species.
I don’t see much of that in American politics. May God help us and open our eyes and hearts, so we may be on nobody’s side but His.