Like many of you, I watched bits and pieces of the presidential debate last night. (A few of you hung on every word, I know. Your interest and, more significantly, attention span must exceed mine dramatically.) Also like many of you, I perused, last night and this morning, the feeds of the various social media outlets I utilize. To say that there was a lot of popular-level political commentary on Facebook and Twitter during and because of the debate is kind of like saying Amarillo can be a windy place. (“Obviously. We noticed…Did you have a point?”)
One thing is clear in light of the debate, the election in general, and the state of (online) political discourse: The issues and people involved in this election are polarizing to a degree that I struggle to fathom. Many people care deeply about the issues and outcome of the upcoming election. Many more see the issues – the liberties and freedoms at stake, the implied questions (and answers) regarding life and marriage and morality – as matters of life and death. Very few people don’t care at all about what’s facing us, and most people care so much that they’ll scream at their friends on the internet if their respective opinions don’t align.
I say all of this to raise the question, How much should Christians really care about the election? As an answer, I’ll simply offer a few tidbits from Justin Taylor’s blog over at The Gospel Coalition:
This election season is a good time to remember that the Christian life is a paradox.
Take, for example, the question of where our citizenship resides.
The apostle Paul once warned that “no soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits” (2 Tim. 2:4), and he insisted that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20). This sounds like a single citizenship with only a heavenly zip code.
However, the same apostle Paul also declared that he was “a citizen of no obscure city” (that is, Tarsus) and avoided torture by appealing to his Roman citizenship, which gave him certain rights and prevented certain actions from the Roman authorities (Acts 21:39;22:25-29). Paul knew that his fundamental identity was “hidden with God in Christ” and that he was to set his mind on “things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:1-3), but he also knew that he had earthly obligations and rights and that they were not insignificant.
Taylor goes on to conclude that the election should be important to Christians…but not too important. It is possible, he says, to care so much about the election and its outcome that we make idols out of our politics. At the same time, Christians have obligations to the good of our country, the good of our neighbors, and the glory of God that should prevent us from sticking our collective heads in the sand.
It is true that “this world is not our home,” but it’s not true that “I’m just passing through” like a leisurely amusement park ride.
We are dual citizens, responsible and active members of both God’s spiritual kingdom and earthly kingdom. And if we seek to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength—and to love our neighbor as ourselves—then we should care to some degree about politics and elections and the role of government in our land.
The whole post is worth reading if you have a minute. In the meantime, as we endure the next month – and beyond, I’ll be praying a great deal for our country and the upcoming election. And I won’t be talking about it on Facebook.