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That Time I Got Political

I’m tired.

I’m tired of the Facebook wars, being forced to pick sides, and biased media.

I’m tired of seeing confederate flags and people talking about minorities like we are an infestation. I’m tired of propaganda and people slapping Jesus or rhetoric on top of their politics in order to justify one side and demonize the other.

I was reading Jeremiah this morning and stumbled across a scripture that I couldn’t quite shake.

“I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; only if you stop oppressing the foreigner, the fatherless, or the widows and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.” Jeremiah 7:5-7

I couldn’t help but reflect on the political climate of our nation—especially with the midterms having been so recent.

I’ll be transparent with you—my political views have been clashing with my spiritual beliefs as of late, and it’s been driving me insane.

I concluded that God’s heart was more just than my own. So, I sought The Lord for guidance. The more I did this; the more recognizable faults from both sides became. Instead of resorting to my parents, friends, or celebrities for correct stances, I brought each topic and controversy before the Lord and examined it next to scripture.

I want my beliefs to align with Jesus’—not an imperfect man-made party’s. At the end of the day, don’t politics and social justice boil down to human rights and the way we deal with people?

I do not want to handle human beings through a systematic, polarized structure created by imperfect humans when I have the opportunity to treat people the way Jesus did.

God brought some freshman year biology back to my mind as I began to unpack Jeremiah. I remembered learning about certain sicknesses that would cause the immune system (the system in our body that fights germs and keeps us healthy) to attack itself. This snippet, for the sake of understanding the analogy, is from WomensHealth.gov:

‘Our bodies have an immune system, which is a complex network of special cells and organs that defends the body from germs and other foreign invaders. At the core of the immune system is the ability to tell the difference between self and non-self: what’s you and what’s foreign. A flaw can make the body unable to tell the difference between self and non-self. When this happens, the body makes autoantibodies that attack normal cells by mistake. At the same time, special cells called regulatory T cells fail to do their job of keeping the immune system in line. The result is a misguided attack on your own body. This causes the damage we know as autoimmune disease.’

Our government along with the media, have polarized parties and pitted Democrats and Republicans against each other so much so, that just like those cells, we no longer recognize each other and attack our own body.

The white blood cells believe they are defending the body and protecting it by attacking the other cells, and vice versa. We see this reflected through our divided rhetoric—“Democrats want to take guns away so we can be controlled by the government!” and “Republicans care more about owning guns than the lives of children!”

Injustice is always someone else’s fault.

Both want to fix the issue. Both want to help and protect the people. So where is the disconnect?

Can I voice an unpopular opinion? I travel very often, so just hear me out when I say: I think American culture is extremely prideful in comparison to other nations. I don’t understand extreme patriotism, because my identity and allegiance are not rooted in a piece of land or a flag. I love my home and where I am from, but I know that this is all temporary. Our permanent residence is in heaven and our identity should always be rooted in Jesus.

This issue of pride has blinded us to believe that we couldn’t possibly be the problem. But when the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the analogy of the auto immune disease, I realized that by placing the foundation of my beliefs upon a political party then sprinkling Jesus on top… I was contributing to the problem.

Pride causes us to be blind to our own faults and internal pain. We point the finger so we feel a false sense of righteousness like the Pharisees. However, in reality, the body is internally attacking and weakening itself in the name of “justice”.

Isn’t it funny how we proudly wave the banner of justice within a man-made political party?

Imma say it louder for the people in the back:

The values expressed are completely made by humans! Imperfect, sinful, selfish, people! And you’re telling me your side has it all figured out? And the other side is close-minded? Oh, the irony.

We forget the author of justice.

The only righteous judge.

The only perfect one.

Justice and truth will never be found apart from God. If you sprinkle Jesus on top of your politics like I did, you might have some truth in there, but then man’s selfish ambition will inevitably rear its ugly head.

Kris Vallotton, a pastor at Bethel Redding, shared this recently regarding Political Spirits:

1) The political spirit always needs an enemy! This spirit is more concerned with winning an election than with solving a problem.

2) The political spirit demonizes anyone who doesn’t agree with them. In other words, we don’t just see them as wrong on an issue, we view them as evil.

3) The political spirit imprisons our minds and reduces us to partisan opinions. This spirit separates people into two categories; winners and losers. In this environment, straw polls replace practical wisdom and success is measured in media bits rather than real solutions.

4) True governance is displaced by political polarization in which, people are expected to support a party rather than legitimate answers. This political spirit replaces national patriotism with loyalty to a party. This attitude creates a culture where we don’t have permission to think for ourselves but it’s “decision by affiliation.”

These characteristics can be found throughout scripture in the old and new testament. We see ungodly rulers like Ahab, Jezebel, and Herod operating in this spirit, blatantly defying the will of God and wreaking havoc upon God’s people.

Now that we have removed the blinders, taken a step back, and identified the problem, let’s move on to the solution.

One way can help this weak and sickly immune system recover, is by having conversations. I think the best way to fall into polarized thinking is to stereotype and generalize people.

Talk to someone that doesn’t have the same skin color as you. Ask your Hispanic friends if they feel safe. Talk to some white boys, see where they’re coming from. Your LGBTQ friends, your Muslim friends and family members. Ask your Black peers about oppression in 2018. Do you see a pattern here? Learning, understanding, and empathy on an individual level.

Jesus was and will always be personal and intentional with us. How can we demonstrate His love if we lump people into categories?

You may not have the platform of a celebrity or a politician, but I believe what you have is better.

You have the ability to individually touch lives, just like Jesus.

You have the ability to love the people who are difficult to love; who disagree with and offend you.

By loving these people, not only are you mending a divide, you are showing them who Jesus is. This creates ripples of life and hope, which impacts people 1,000,000 x more than some biased news report or tweet.

Even if you don’t speak one word about politics or God, you have the ability to let the gospel of love shine and reflect so brightly within you that it leads the lost into His loving arms.

This radical love can only be achieved when the Holy Spirit makes His home in our hearts. It is not a love that is found here on earth; it is a supernatural love that only abides in The Father. I pray that it rests in our hearts today, and we begin to see people the way Jesus does.

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