Follow Jesus, not politics

Published 10:32 pm Friday, January 19, 2018

By Thurman Hayes

There should always be a healthy tension between Christians and human governments. After all, Philippians 3:20-21 says, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.” Our King is Jesus, and he is coming again to reign. We will be raised with glorified bodies like His, and live in a new heaven and earth with no sin, no suffering and no death!

Until then, we are part of a broken world, with very imperfect human governments. In America, ours is so much better than most. We have a great Constitution, checks and balances between three branches of government, and far more freedom and stability than most people in this world.

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The Bible calls us to be “salt and light” in our culture (Matthew 5:13-14), and to seek the good of the places God has put us (Jeremiah 29:7). Politics is not the main way we do that. The main ways we do that are by loving the people around us every day, sharing Christ, and making disciples.

We should care about government, because we love people, and government impacts the lives of people.

However, we should never give our unreserved allegiance to any politician or political party. We are followers of King Jesus. To blindly follow a president or political party is idolatry.

Furthermore, as followers of King Jesus, we must impartially and courageously speak against politicians and parties when they are wrong and affirm things that are right.

For instance, I am deeply thankful for the judges President Trump has appointed over the past year. From what I can tell, they will be fierce protectors of religious liberty for all Americans, and they will be there long after President Trump is gone. I am also thankful for aspects of his foreign policy, especially that we are drawing closer to historic allies, like Israel.

At the same time, I am deeply disappointed in our president’s tongue, temperament and Twitter feed, which is sometimes ugly, immature and divisive. I had hoped that the enormity of the office would make him become more self-controlled. So far, that has not happened. We should all pray for him to become more presidential in his character and more unifying as a leader.

As followers of King Jesus in these days, we must affirm things that are good and oppose things that are wrong. When we don’t do that, we lose credibility with the world. They look at us and say, “You are really not about Christianity. You are really about politics.”

I fear that some Christian leaders, by refusing to speak out against some of the things that the president has done wrong, are putting themselves in this position. Don’t put yourself there. Your integrity and your Christian witness is on the line. If the president does something good, be willing to affirm it. If he does or says something that violates biblical standards, have the guts to call him out on it. People are watching. God is watching.

Be followers of King Jesus! Not a party. Not a president. The movement we are part of transcends the politics of the left and the right. We must be about the cause of Christ and His Kingdom.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr. is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.