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Making the Big Shift in Our Politics

Across our country, friendships, families, and churches are fraying at the seams, and many have split over politics. Many are exhausted by the division or afraid of potential backlash for entering the fray, so they avoid political dialogue. And all the while, the divide between us as Americans only seems to be getting wider.

Jesus was no stranger to political division. In his day, there was division among Jews between those who opposed Rome (e.g., the Zealots) and those who cooperated with Rome (e.g., tax collectors). Within this context, Jesus calls Simon the Zealot and Matthew, a tax collector, to follow him. Imagine the tension in that group! But Jesus did this intentionally to show that his view of politics would not be like others. His way would transcend politics and transform his disciples to obey God by acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with him. Rather than let political ideologies, parties, and policies define his disciples, Jesus would be the one to shape his disciples’ values, relationships, and practices.

The way of a disciple was — and still is — radical because the allure of putting your identity in a particular political party or politician can be downright intoxicating. It leads to “Us vs. Them” thinking and a Partisan Mind that sees your fellow citizen as your enemy (or even as less than human). These two things have led to what we now know as the Big Sort in our country. Today, more Americans have moved to neighborhoods and communities where they are less likely to live among individuals with differing political beliefs.

Can You Relate? 

As believers, we should be shaped and formed by Jesus, not politics. Most pastors would agree with this statement 100%. But what do we see in many churches today? The division and infighting we see today in the Church are less about theology, style, and worship and more about politics. In this politically charged environment, it is tempting for a pastor to avoid issues about which Scripture has something to say. Sadly, many in the Church have an unrealistic expectation that their pastor has to align with them politically on every single issue. If a pastor does address an issue from the pulpit (even peripherally), he will likely find an inbox full of angry emails about it on Monday.

The current picture of the Church in America today looks different from the one we get in Ephesians 4:1-6:

​​As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Unity is our goal, but we don’t get unity by avoiding the issues and each other. Silence because we want to avoid conflict will never lead to unity. What’s more, there is a price for our silence. When we don’t speak into these issues as the Church, we allow our culture to shape us spiritually and form us politically, something about which God’s Word warns us. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a).

There has to be a better way for us to engage in politics and be the salt and light Jesus called us to be in the world.

What if people decided to leave their silos and discovered a better way to engage in healthy and winsome conversations about important issues in our communities and nation? One tool that could help churches is the After Party course from Redeeming Babel. This project was the brainchild of three Christian leaders with different political views and developed a way to value our convictions and relationships. The course aims to help everyone, regardless of political stripe, to accept Jesus’ invitation to make the Big Shift from the what of politics (ideology, party, policy) to the how of politics (spiritual values, relationships, relational practices).

Russell Moore, David French, and Curtis Chang

The key leaders behind the After Party. From left: Russell Moore, David French, and Curtis Chang

We Need Hope and Humility

The solution to the problem of partisan politics and division is hope and humility. Hope and humility help us, as followers of Jesus, resist the temptation to make an idol out of politics. We need humility because, as the course tells us, “the dividing issues in America […] are incredibly complicated matters. No one is an expert in any one of them, let alone all of them. We need to look at issues in all their richness and complexity. Humility is the proper recognition of reality.” We are limited in our knowledge, abilities, experience, and perspective. No particular person, political party, or ideology has all the answers to every problem in society.

Humility is recognizing that we are inescapably flawed. Sometimes, even in areas where we feel most confident, there’s a chance that we could be wrong. Where do we start with humility? By listening. Be willing to exercise the skill of listening to others and valuing their perspectives and opinions. Be willing to meet and get to know people with whom you disagree. You may not convert them to your side, but you might learn something in the process.

We need hope because a lack of hope leads us to give up or be apathetic (“What’s the point? It doesn’t matter.”). Our hope doesn’t rest in a political ideology, party, policy, or issue. It rests in the hope that God is sovereign over his creation, regardless of who is in charge or whether we find ourselves in another crisis.

Hope grows within community. That’s why God gave us the Church. That is where we learn and grow together in unity as one Body. Collectively, we find our true hope in Jesus. If anyone or anything becomes our source of hope, we, as his Church, must repent from this sin and turn to him in faith. In short, we can trust Jesus to guide us toward hope now and for the future.

The True After Party

The kingdom of God broke into the world with Jesus’ first coming, and we await its final culmination at his second coming. When he returns, the true After Party will begin. There will be joy and celebration because he will restore all things and set this world right forever and ever.

In looking forward to the true After Praty, how can we relate to politics between in the “now and not yet”? What does it look like to live in the realities of today but maintain hope for the future? We do so by taking ourselves out of the party mindset. “When your identity is all in politics or your party, it trumps everything else. Too many people have placed that ‘D’ or ‘R’ as a fundamental aspect of their identity. The After Party seeks to move beyond that. […] Parties move and change over time. Put yourself in a [particular] party identity, and you’re going to be unstable. When your identity is in Christ, your identity is core and stable.” 

Winning through Obedience

If we want to win in politics, we must obey God as a citizen of his kingdom and how he has called us to live. Above all else, we pledge allegiance to King Jesus and his way. As Jesus’ disciples, our beliefs and behaviors must revolve around who he is and what he has done to break down the walls of hostility and division. We don’t see ourselves as “a colony of this earth but as a colony of heaven.” As his Church, we model how he taught us to live—to love, sacrifice, and serve others. In our love of God and neighbor, we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33), not our own or the righteousness or political agenda. His agenda becomes our agenda when we seek his kingdom first. 

There is a better way. With hope and humility, let us move forward with our eyes fixed on Jesus. He is our Solid Rock. Everything else is sinking sand. Together, as one Church, we can live out the command of Micah 6:8 with our neighbor and each other: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

The After Party helps small groups and churches engage in politics in a better, more productive way. It is currently available for free at

Chris Loux — Communications Director, CityChurch Network

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