Sunday, May 20, 2012

Is There Room for Humility in Politics?

I've never been very interested in politics.  While I am registered to vote, I'm an Independent because I could not in good conscience pick any political party.  I like hearing what different sides have to say about issues and I don't want to blindly follow one party.  And so now it is an election year, and anger and hatred will be running rampant through our country the closer it gets to November.  A candidate's past will be scrutinized down to the tiniest detail and will be to some more important than the present and future.  

There are many Christians on both sides of an issue who believe that Jesus would be on their side.  Each side wants to use Jesus to champion the cause near and dear to one's heart and mind and wallet.  One side wants the government to take care of the poor, because that is what Jesus would do.  The other wants the churches to take care of that.  One side champions the rights of the unborn because God creates life and we should not take it away.  The other side wants the woman to be able to choose whether or not to have an abortion.  Disagreement about abortion or gay marriage or the economy or the military or entitlements brings out the worst in people, because each side wants to be right; each side wants to be a winner.

Each side, both Christian Republicans and Christian Democrats, believe there is a Christian influence on politics, whether it is the belief that we are a Christian nation that was founded on Christian principles or whether it is the belief that we should be more active regarding social justice issues.  

The biggest thing that I see lacking in American politics is one Christian principle that is a hallmark of Christianity:  humility.  

Humility is something that we think of as nice in theory, and we think of people who are humble as those who do not brag.  But when we look at these beautiful verses in Philippians, we see that it is so much more than that.  It is about thinking of others as better than yourself.  
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,  who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,  but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,  he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death -- even death on a cross. --Philippians 2:3-8
Is humility something lacking in your life?  Are you willing to think of others as better than yourself?  Are you willing to be like Jesus and be obedient to the point of death, whether it is physical death, or the death of ideas or a lifestyle that you cherish?  
  • If you are a conservative Republican, do you think of liberal Democrats as better than yourself?  
  • If you are a liberal Democrat, do you think of conservative Republicans as better than yourself?  
  • If you are the president of a company, do you think of the janitor who cleans your office at night as better than yourself?  
  • If you are wealthy, do you think of the beggar you see on the street as better than yourself?  
  • If you are pro-life, do you think of the pro-choice advocate as better than yourself?  
  • If you are pro-choice, do you think of the pro-life advocate as better than yourself?  
  • If you are against gay marriage, do you think of the gay person as better than yourself?
  • If you are for gay marriage, do you think of the person against it as better than yourself?

No?  Why not?  

Is is hard to be humble?  You bet.  It's a lot easier to be selfish and go after the things that we want and put ourselves and our immediate families first.  It's easier for me to head down to Walmart and buy a new toy for my kids or order some books for myself on Amazon than it is for me to donate more money to Haiti.  It's easier for me to be conceited about my viewpoints than it is for me to humbly consider another's viewpoint.  

Often, our Christian lives consist of the easy things:  church attendance, no drinking alcohol, posting inspirational Bible verses on Twitter and Facebook, listening to our Spotify playlists of praise and worship music.  

I think, though, that the deeper a relationship we seek with God, the more these easy activities will feel as if they are not enough.  The more we seek to follow Jesus with all that we are, the more we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives and let the Spirit lead us, the more we will face uncomfortable and life-changing thoughts and events in our lives.  

Christian Republicans, Christian Democrats, and Christians everywhere in between can be united.  Regardless of political affiliation or theological beliefs, at the very minimum, we all seek to know what it means to follow Jesus in all areas of our lives.  We all are learning what it means to lose our lives for his sake.  

Why don't we use this election year to be united in humility and grow in grace and love towards each other?  Why don't we use this election year to show the world that they will know who Jesus' followers are by their love?  

"There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; there is no longer Republican or Democrat, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."  Galatians 3:28, Kelly Version.


Earning a Prophet's Wage said...

AMEN!!! I am thrilled to find this attitude in the blog-o-sphere. Thank you for this expression of faith, this call to humility, this conviction on our politics. It is the right word for the right time!

I am actually registered Republican, but I do not vote at all any more. I see the Jesus option as totally squeezed out, and so I abstain. I do not try to convince others of this. Perhaps it is actually right to vote and participate. I have friends who do. But humility is largely missing through and through.

Also, this division between Christians is deeply troubling. We are to be united. Our unity is to be a witness to the world. These political distinctions put us in a house divided.

Blessings on you! And thank you for saying what needs to be said.

Kelly said...

Thanks so much! I admit I was a bit apprehensive about posting it, but I felt like I had to. I'll probably do a few more about politics leading up to November, although it won't be a huge focus.

I think you are right about politics dividing us--it may even divide us more than theological issues do! I am not sure what the answer is--I see both the pros and cons of engaging in or not engaging in politics.