We in the United States are in a heated presidential election. When the political temperature rises so does name-calling, character assassination, and confrontation. Even committed Christ-followers, unfortunately, get caught up in the partisan political whirlwind of the moment and join in the fight. We as Christians should seriously engage in the ongoing debate in the political public square, but in doing so we must demonstrate a citizenship seasoned by God’s wisdom and love.
The title of this article is based on Jesus’ question in Mark8:36, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (NIV). Over the years, I have watched many Christians zealously become active in partisan politics and actually “lose their souls”; that is, they lose their public, uniquely Christian witness, act contrary to the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and become divisive agents within the church.
Biblical Guidelines. Below are ten biblical guidelines to assist Christians to engage in the upcoming presidential election without “losing their souls.”
1. Don’t equate the biblical kingdom of God with any human political party or nation. We must maintain the distinctiveness between God’s kingdom and the kingdoms of this world. We must never fuse the two (John18:36; Matt.6:33).
2. Don’t elevate a politician to messianic status. People often falsely think a politician can single-handedly produce supernatural social results. We have one Lord, and we must resist any attempt to exalt politicians to unrealistic heights (Matt.7:15; 1Pet.3:15).
3. Don’t just vote, but pray for the leaders of all political parties. Christians can be tempted to bless the politician of their choice, and curse his or her opponent, but remember, we must pray even for our enemies (1Tim.2:1–2; Matt.5:44).
4. Don’t forget that your ultimate security is in the unshakeable kingdom of God. Many Christians often elevate the outcome of presidential elections to an apocalyptic status. If a particular presidential candidate does not win, we begin to think or act as if the world will end. In so doing, however, we express an unbelief in the active sovereignty of God over human affairs (Heb.12:26–29).
5. Don’t bring the polarization of partisan politics into the family of God. Every Christian has freedom of conscience before God, and we must guard against allowing political perspectives to divide the church (Rom.16:17; 1Cor.1:11–12).
6. Don’t demonize anyone. Every person has been created in the image of God, and Christians must not demonize or dehumanize other people, whether we agree with them politically or not (Col.3:8; James4:12).
7. Don’t engage in angry, hostile confrontation. Present your political convictions through civil debate and rational dialogue instead. Confrontational arguments demonstrate an ugly pride that demeans Jesus Christ (James1:19–20; 2Tim.2:14).
8. Don’t become so intertwined with one political party that you forfeit your independence. When you do, you lose your right to be heard and to speak and clarify biblical truth to all politicians and political parties (1Tim.3:15; Rom.3:4).
9. Don’t allow yourself to support attempts to divide races, male and female, rich and poor, or young and old. Partisan politics often divides society into voting blocks, and separates society instead of uniting it. Christians should function as peacemakers and reconcilers in the public square and should resist every temptation to join the game of dividing people for political gain (Matt.5:9; 2Cor.5:18–19).
10. Don’t simply curse the darkness, but constructively engage it. The cultural and missional mandate of kingdom Christians is not to curse the darkness in our world, but to act as illuminating light and preserving salt. We must share the light of God’s truth and work to maintain the common welfare of our nation by overcoming evil through doing good (Matt.5:13–16).
I am aware that the outcome of the 2008 presidential election could have significant, and even negative, consequences for people’s lives, but we don’t need to worry. In the larger scheme of history, no matter who becomes our next president, God is still King, and He is still in control!
— Andrew Jackson
Ferguson, Missouri, has become a symbol of racial tension in America. The death of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown at the hands of white police officer Darren Wilson aroused a nation’s conscience. Some viewed the incident as representative of bigger issues concerning unjust policing in black communities. Others remained silent and resolved to wait until more facts came to light. Yet others thought the young man reaped what he sowed. These starkly different reactions and recent similar events reveal the deep racial divide that still exists in this country.
But Ferguson offers Christians an opportunity to make progress in the realm of race relations in the United States. The Bible offers the spiritual tools necessary to build bridges across race and culture. Yet conversations among Christians about racial issues too often mirror the culture’s categories rather than biblical ones. Many believers take their cues about race from the social climate instead of Scripture’s teachings.
The Bible teaches that there is one race: the human race. All people are descended from the same historic parents and are created in the image of God. Each person, regardless of race or culture, has inherent dignity and worth as God’s creation and image bearer. But there are also two spiritual races: the redeemed and the unredeemed. As God’s “chosen race” by grace through faith, Christians should be able to dialogue about race relations productively. Only by employing the Bible’s principles for understanding race will reconciliation become a reality.Grace upon Grace: 1 John 1:8–9 and the Forgiveness of Sins By Steven Parks
Christians today are often tempted to shy away from the topic of sin. After all, nobody enjoys hearing that they are disobedient rebels who have offended a holy God in thought, word, and deed. It is no secret that speaking about the reality of sin does not fill arenas or land books on the New York Times Best Sellers List. There is, however, an often overlooked but nevertheless spiritually disastrous result in avoiding the topic of sin: missing the reality that only sinners need a savior. Without the bad news that sinners are condemned to hell, there can be no good news, no gospel, which declares that, in Christ, sinners are forgiven saints destined for heaven. If Christians avoid speaking about the malady of sin, we must inevitably avoid proclaiming the miracle of salvation and the very gospel itself.
Yet, in the Christian faith, there is no more important teaching than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Concerning this message, the apostle Paul wrote, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3–4).1Here, Paul noted that he delivered the gospel to his hearers as of “first importance.”2 This gospel is not just one teaching among many others; rather, the gospel is the most important teaching in all of Christianity, the very heartbeat of the Christian faith standing at its core and center.