You may like this. You may hate it. My question is this – why?
Here’s a simple test to see if politics (partisanship actually) is your idol. An idol is something that a person worships, that acts like a god of some sort. An idol is the thing we look too for divine wisdom and salvation. It is a thing to pay attention to and follow. It has a high level of importance. An idol is considered sacred – so sacred that when someone touches it or messes with it, we get really upset. An idol shapes our identity.
Which are you more upset by:
A. preaching what Jesus said and calls on followers of Jesus to do that doesn’t match your political party platform and beliefs or the agenda of the politician you are loyal to.
Or B. Politicians and political parties whose stands are in conflict with what Jesus taught and calls on followers to live by?
Which could you more easily do:
A. Change your religious denomination/faith/church because what is being taught and proclaimed conflicts with your political party loyalty and positions.
Or B. Change your political party loyalty (or change to no political affiliation at all) because the party and politicians that represent it are in conflict with what Jesus taught?
Which would say is true:
A. Jesus is the Lord of all, that includes my politics.
Or B. Jesus has boundaries and doesn’t get a say over my political positions and loyalties. That’s my business.
What is the foundation for your identity? What informs your decision making? Partisan loyalty? Faith? Money? Something else?
Be careful. Matthew 6:21 has Jesus saying, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (NRSV). That’s not just money. Your treasure is what has value to you. Your heart will follow what you value. And what you value can be seen in how you use the resources that you have. Those are material things of course. But they are also immaterial things too. Where do you put your attention? Who and what do you listen to? What is it that you value?
Back to my initial question – Are you mad at me for raising these questions? Why? Did I mess with your idol?
If faith is the foundation of what you do and how you act and what you believe, then I’m not sure what you are upset about.
If on the other hand I have touched an idol that you cherish, then maybe instead of being mad, you might want to take a moment and ask yourself if you are really mad at me, or at yourself or others for making an idol so very important in your life. An idol that may have cost you friendships. An idol that may have broken other important relationships – like family. An idol that has used you, maybe exploited you and your emotions. An idol that has controlled you. An idol that ultimately only cares about you when you comply with its wishes.
If we are followers of Jesus, then that means that our primary allegiance and identity is to Jesus. The foundation of who we are is identified with Jesus. Jesus is the measure against which we determine what we will say, do, and believe. Jesus is the measure which determines how we interact and treat all others – whether they be friend or foe.
If you have fallen for this idol of partisan loyalty, please hear this – you don’t have to continue. We are set free from the bondage of idols and their heavy burdens.
There is another way. There is a different lens to look at the world. We can put aside the lens of partisanship that only sees two options. That is concerned with winners and losers. That is more interested in blame and scapegoating. That is only interested in using people in order to gain power or money. Take those lenses off. Throw them away. And see the world through a different lens. A lens that sees the multitude of opportunities and expressions of God’s love. A lens that sees the image of God in all people. A lens that offers forgiveness, mercy, and grace. A lens that is interested in making peace real. A lens that empowers people. A lens that sees how all of creation is moving towards Shalom wholeness and completeness.
Put away the lens that sees the world in black and white. Put away the lens that reduces our sight. That lowers expectations. That makes us believe that God doesn’t care. Put on the lens that helps us see that God is a God who suffers with us because God cares that much about us. Only one who suffers can love those they suffer with. Put on the lens that gives us sight to see how incarnate Jesus really is – in our world right now. Put on the lens that clears our vision to see Jesus in ourselves, in others, and in all of creation.