Only Jesus

“I move a vote of no confidence.”

It was one of the most memorable experiences of my academic career as a Political Science major at Furman University: Dr. Nelsen’s annual parliament simulation. I was assigned to be the chairman of the Nationalist Party, a far right group that generally found itself outside government coalitions, so we were content to be an opposition party and (quite literally) wave our flags of implicit xenophobia. We were loud, but we were powerless.

By the third night of the simulation, things got interesting.

The centrist parties were tied up in a tedious debate about some procedural issue when the leader of the Green Party pulled me outside. “I think we have the votes to put together a far-right/far-left government around the issue of global warming.” I was curious. “Tell me more.” He said, “Well, we want to eliminate fossil fuels, and you want to bring back jobs from overseas.” I thought for a moment. “That’s a great idea. But is this kind of coalition realistic?” 

We consulted our professor who, though I’m sure he appreciated the ongoing parliamentary debate, was intrigued by the potential drama our coalition would stir. Dr. Nelsen said, “Radical coalitions are rare, but sometimes polarized parties can find enough common ground to rule. Good luck.”

I stood at my seat, “Mr. Moderator, I have a motion.”

Today, as we approach one of the most polarizing presidential elections in history, the church is getting caught up in the drama. I’ve heard my conservative friends say, “If you vote for Joe Biden, then you can’t call yourself a Christian.” Likewise, I’ve heard my liberal friends say, “If you vote for Donald Trump, then you can’t call yourself a Christian.” These viewpoints are held with considerable conviction, and they are driving a wedge into Christ’s body.

We need to find some common ground.

Have you ever considered the radical coalition that Jesus put together? He called both Levi the Tax Collector and Simon the Zealot to be among his twelve apostles. Levi was a leftist bureaucrat who believed in big government, and Simon was part of a right-wing populist movement that advocated throwing off Roman rule. What could possibly bring these two men together? 

Hint: It wasn’t global warming. 

These men experienced the radical grace of God, which rescued them from sin and gave them new life in Christ. The same is true for us. Yet, the ballot box has become a new form of self-righteousness that is destroying our freedom. “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). We must not impose extra-biblical requirements like party affiliation or candidate preference on other Christians. To do so is to insult God, “who alone is Lord of the conscience.” 

Don’t misunderstand. Politics matter, and God has called us to “do justice and love mercy,” but he has left us free to disagree about the best way to go about it. As followers of Jesus, we would do well to remember that politics have no power to overcome evil or bring salvation.

Only Jesus can do that.

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