One of the clear themes coming out of both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention is a focus on God. Men and women, of both parties, have talked openly about their faith and what their relationship with God means to them. These are personal stories of how God has shaped their lives and helped them to reach their current position.
However, let us not be mistaken by these personal stories. As wonderful as they are, they also come in the middle of a convention season ,which in modern elections are week-long advertisements for a particular brand of politics. What these narratives ultimately do is to tell how God is like a Democrat or a Republican.
It is almost as if God is running for political office. We might be mistaken in believing that as we have listened to the conventions, listened to the analysis, or read up on the candidate’s personal stories. This is nothing new. God has always been a central figure in presidential politics ever since the first contested campaign for president. The quest has always been to align God with one’s particular ideas or policies, as if to say God has “ordained” these policies to be implemented. We do this in order to be validated in our opinions and to be considered authoritative on the matter.
Is this the way God desires us to engage the political process? Certainly, this way of saying God is on “my side” cannot be what God would desire for those who seek to follow in his footsteps.
It may shock us, but God is not a politician. God is not a Democrat. God is not a Republican. God is not a Libertarian. God is not a Tea Party member. God is not a socialist. God rises above all political definitions and calls us to a deeper engagement of what it means to be a follower of Christ in an election year.
True and holy engagement with God challenges our basic worldview and opinions. This engagement calls us to abandon our own personal desires and to seek God’s will and purposes not only for ourselves, but also for our parties and governments. Followers of Christ who seek to engage the political process must do so by abandoning their own desires and take up the mantle of being obedient to God in all things.
When we do this, we see that true and deep faith calls into question basic beliefs and practices of both Democrats and Republicans. Deep faith challenges Democrats to examine how they see government, which is often idolatrous. Deep faith challenges Republicans on how they often see money and wealth as a god.
Politics and politicians will always be in the business of creating “us versus them” scenarios and will attempt to bring God in to support their views. Followers of Christ who seek to live in a deep relationship with the Lord must not fall for the trap. We must not allow God to be defined by political realities. Instead, we ourselves must be defined by God’s desires and allow that to be our guide in the political arena.