How to Keep Political Divisions from Hurting the Church Community
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For the past few years, America has been marked by deep political divides which are reaching into the church.
A March 2022 Barna poll cited current political divisions among the top three reasons pastors want to quit the pulpit.
The political hurt felt in a number of churches not only stresses ministers and leaders, it also sets a bad example for non-believers.
Pastor Eugene Cho, author of the book Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk: A Christian's Guide to Engaging in Politics, claims a big part of this problem is a lack of discipleship within the Body of Christ.
"We have to stop and regularly ask ourselves how does our faith in Christ inform how we live our lives including the engagement in politics rather than how does our politics inform our discipleship," Cho said. "Does our faith in Christ, discipleship, inform our politics or does our politics inform our faith?"
Cho argues the church often looks outward when it comes to threats to the gospel when we should instead be looking within.
"I would contend that the greatest challenge is actually within the church and that's cultural Christianity," he claimed. "It's when certain things supersede the Lordship of Christ, in my definition that's really idolatry. I'm concerned that politics, while it's important and has value in society, politics if we're not careful can become the ultimate source of power in our lives."
Cho believes many professing Christians in the U.S. are not practicing what it means to follow Christ.
"The most important allegiance in our lives isn't a politician, it isn't politics, it isn't red or blue," he explained. "While we acknowledge that it matters the most important allegiance in our lives as followers of Jesus and the Church has to be the Kingdom of God and the Lordship of Christ. That's the reason why it's such an important danger during our time."
"I think it's important for church leaders and pastors to really hear the alarm bells about the lack of discipleship and perhaps we've allowed church members to drink the Kool-Aid of an allegiance to a particular party," the pastor continued. "When we allow that allegiance to supersede the Lordship of Christ, the fruits of the Holy Spirit then we're in a very dangerous, dangerous place."
Cho also warns not to demonize those who disagree with you.
"As followers of Jesus we are people of hope, and our hope is not contingent on politics or a political or a party or on trends, but it's contingent on the person of Jesus," he noted.
Justin Giboney, president of the AND Campaign, works to help Christians be constructive leaders on both sides of the political aisle.
"We want to change how Christians view politics," Giboney explained. "We want Christians to be less partisan, less ideological, and focus on Biblical principles first and foremost."
The AND Campaign trains Christians in a non-partisan way on how to engage in politics.
"I'm sure there'll be people who will come out of there Republicans and some will be Democrats, but hopefully they'll be constructive leaders as they move forward," Giboney told CBN News.
The training centers around the gospel and critiques of both parties.
"Coming into this next election we're really going to be focused on Christians not necessarily agreeing on everything but being able to have constructive conversations and be constructive citizens rather than tearing everything down which we see coming from both sides right now," Giboney said.
He believes while it is important for Christians to vote and engage in politics, the key is to stand far enough away from either party to be able to provide honest critiques.
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