Four Ways to Follow Jesus in the Face of Partisan Politics
With Election Day a week away, a lot of us have had just about enough politics for a while. Right now, you can't turn on your TV, listen to the radio, scroll through social media, or even play a game on your smart phone without seeing vicious attack ads as one campaign or another tries to gain a few more votes. And, if this nasty and hate-filled behavior from our politicians weren't bad enough, a quick scroll through your social media feed will show you that your family and friends can behaved just as negatively all in an attempt to get their preferred candidate elected.
So, in the face of this nasty and hate-filled behavior that surrounds us in the lead up to this year's election, how can followers of Jesus respond? Well, that's what I talked about in Sunday's sermon. But here's the gist of what I said: as Christians, we have a responsibility to be political...but we have to do it without being jerks.
As Christians, we have a responsibility to be political...but we have to do it without being jerks.
We have a responsibility to be political because, at its core, politics is about the way we relate to and care for other people in a society. So when Jesus tells us to, "Love your neighbor as yourself", Jesus tells us we have to engage in politics.
But we can't do that the way that the world does. Since the Lyndon Johnson campaign ran their (in)famous "Daisy Girl" attack ad in 1964 to paint the Republic nominee, Barry Goldwater, as a warmonger who would lead our nation to nuclear annihilation; politics has become more an more negative in America. But our faith in Jesus condemns this kind of behavior. Jesus doesn't tell us to attack our enemies...Jesus tells us to love our enemies.
So how can we be political without being jerks? Well, here are a four ways.
Our political involvement in the United States begins with voting. So, if you want to be political and do something to help care of other Americans, you have to vote. And 2020 has presented us all with an unprecedented opportunity to vote.
This year in Kentucky, you can vote via absentee ballot, early voting, or by voting on Election Day. If you requested an absentee ballot, follow the instructions provided, fill out your ballot, and return it via mail or by using a ballot drop box located at any of the early voting locations around the county.
You can vote early up until November 2. Polling locations are set up at the KFC Yum Center, the Kentucky Expo Center, the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, and the Louisville Marriott East. These locations are open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM.
Or, you can vote on Election Day, November 3rd. Polls will be open from 6:00 AM until 6:00 PM. Our country, Jefferson County, will have twenty different polling locations open on Election Day and you can vote at any of these locations. You can visit the election page on our county clerk's website to find the polling location closest to you.
Avoid Overly Partisan News Sources
I'll be the first person to admit that we all have biases...and that includes our sources for news. But when you tune in to certain channels or programs, you'll find endless attacks of one candidate or another.
So, if you're used to watching news where one political party is constantly vilified while the other is continually exalted, you're going to be pulled into the nasty and hate-filled politics of this world. So take a break from these news sources.
And, if you have to have a constant flow of news in your life, try to turn to a more neutral source that reports the facts. You can find a detailed breakdown of where your favorite news sources where by visiting this interactive media chart. But when in doubt, rely on the major networks or sources like Reuters, AP News, or The Wall Street Journal.
If You Must Talk Politics, Do It Face-to-Face
With the prevalence of social media in our lives, it is easy to turn to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another social media platform to share your opinions on our political parties and candidates. But don't do it.
Many of our political opinions are far more nuanced than we realize and trying to talk politics 280 characters at a time will never convey our try thoughts or values. And that doesn't even take into account how important body language and tone of voice are when we're trying to express an idea. Nor does it account for the large number of trolls on social media that are just looking to pick a fight.
So, if you must talk politics, do it face-to-face. And talk politics with a trusted friend or family members. Someone that you can agree to disagree with without worrying about harming a relationship.
Remember God is Still in Control
Regardless of who wins the upcoming presidential election...God is still in control. Regardless of who wins the House or the Senate...God is still in control. Regardless of who wins in your state or local election...God is still in control.
God has been in control during the Trump presidency. God was in control during the Obama presidency, the Bush presidency, the Clinton presidency, and all down the line. So our hope is never built on the promises of one political campaign or candidate that will come and go after an election cycle or two. Our hope is built on a God who lasts forever.
So don't worry about building up the Democratic or Republican party. Invest yourself in building God's kingdom and letting Jesus live in and through you.