My August Political Fast
I needed this. As of last night I came off of my self-imposed Political Fast for the month of August, and honestly I’m not sure I want to go back. By a political fast I mean that I purposefully stayed away from reading anything or listening to anything having to do with the present political races of Hillary and Trump. Really the whole system as well. Sure I was tempted a few times and know that at least once I started down that road of “just to see” what the story behind the latest headline was. But I didn’t fall prey to the calling and got through August with pretty much no political writ, radio, or video. I think I’m healthier for it and not certain I want to go back to my old norm.
This is not to say that I no longer have political thinking. I am not saying that I no longer believer that some politics and laws are just bad. This is not to say that I no longer believe that some candidates are way off and therefore they will be advocating systems and laws which will hurt people.
Yes, I still intellectually and morally believe there is a clear right and wrong. Some candidates get that and others do not. But I also believe that the attention to these issues in the political sphere is no longer as high on my emotional radar screen as they once were. I always knew that the Kingdom of God is the bigger picture. It’s just taken my emotions a while to catch up. While some of these political and legal issues are indeed important; they are just not the “most important.”
So after 31 days of political and social media fasting, I’ve arrived at four things that I do know for sure and four things I plan to do.
- Personally; I am not called to civic, state, or national politics and governance. Politics are not the reason why God created me and put me on this planet. So to give too much time in this arena detracts me from my purpose. However, there are people who are uniquely gifted and called to this realm. My friend Joe La Rue is an example of this as he practices Constitutional Law and works to protect religious freedoms in America. He’s a really smart guy. Actually, lawyers aren’t always bad and we see that the apostle Paul requested help for his attorney friend Zenas. So while suggesting that followers of Jesus take a political break might be helpful; a total call of abstinence from governing is by no means spelled out in scripture. The fast does not apply to all.
- No candidate or party is 100% spot on and this should be quite clear in our present political arena. It’s funny though to listen as both sides of the political spectrum pull out the Jesus card when they believe HE will help their case. But Jesus has endorsed neither party. The real problem arises when followers of Christ get divisive on this issue and if the truth be told, it really comes from both sides. Usually the tension starts when a person’s social or moral hot button is pushed and then the lines are drawn.
- Politics are temporal and God is still sovereign. There have been times when I’ve had to remind myself of this one. Usually when I got stuck in the present cultural arguments. The reality is that various phases of politics and morality come and go in history. Culture has suffered at the hands of legalists and also bled in the aftermath of licentiousness. Remember that the Roaring 20s were called that for a reason. So no matter what the political struggle is today, it will be replaced by something else tomorrow. In the big picture though, we see that the Kingdom of God stands forever and God continues to reign on His thrown no matter what humanity does. Isaiah noted that “the nations are like a drop in a bucket” and are regarded as “dust on the scales.” Daniel declares that just as God changes times and seasons, He “deposes kings and sets up others.” Again, this is not saying politics have no value, but in the grand scheme of things they are not of first importance.
- Ultimately, politics will not change the human heart. I’ve spoken of this many times before. The best of politics, rules, and regulations in the world can never change the human heart. In fact, the reason why we have laws is because the heart is corrupt and selfish. Jesus noted that it was out of the heart that “evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” come. There were a lot of really evil things going on in the days of Christ, but He came to change the heart and elevate it to the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. When a heart is transformed it will naturally do what is good for their neighbor whether there is a law in place or not.
Here’s what I plan to do:
- By simply being a good citizen I’ll take my civic responsibility seriously and vote accordingly to my conscience. It’s kind of like jury duty. When you’re called to help the process out; you help.
- I will keep in the local fight to help others. It’s one thing to cheer for national political discussions; it’s another thing to get our hands dirty in the local mess of life. Sure, we can cheer for pro-life and helping the poor and downtrodden, but are we willing to financially help those around the block and sacrifice time and energy for those who cannot pay us back? It’s the boots on the ground in our local areas that will bring real change. I’ve not been asked to speak to congress; yet, but I have been asked for help by a neighbor.
- Keep Praying. Jesus clearly called his followers to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Paul, under direction of the Holy Spirit, called for “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” The interesting historical context is that Paul actually wrote this while the known world was under the control of the poster child of evil Emperors, Nero, who was presently on the throne in Rome. For me, there were times when about the best prayer I could muster for a crooked politician was something along the lines of “Lord, please protect this person from Satan, soften their heart, and bring one of your children along their path.” At the end of the day, by having a stable government, it is much easier to spread the love of Christ rather than living in chaos without the rule of law. Thus, we pray for those in authority.
- Keep my eye on the eternal ball. As a kid I was never good at sports and that’s partially because I couldn’t throw well. The reason I couldn’t throw well was because I’d take my eye off of the target. Thus the main reason for my huge arrest of political dialogue is simply because I know it carries me away from the big picture and point. I can lose focus and miss or blow a chance to convey what is eternal and really important. So I try to bite my tongue and refocus as much as I can in order to stay on track. I suppose it would be similar to a recovering alcoholic staying clear of a bar. It’s just not worth it.
Well, that’s something to start with. What would you add and how would your thinking be affected if you gave politics a rest?