See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:8-10I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2-3
The Supreme Court of the United Sates has just begun what promises to be a politically packed new term. At that same time, talks of impeachment proceedings swirl through Congress. These become the on-ramp to what will be a full year of political outrage leading up to the 2020 Presidential election. Oh, the joy that fills our hearts. For “the church”, this is perhaps the perfect time to stop and remind ourselves of Whose we are. As the bride of Christ, we need this reminder about our focus.
We Are the Colossians
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul challenged that church to keep from being swayed by any of the competing ideologies of the culture. Specifically, he was concerned about the secular philosophies of that Greco-Roman culture. He was also concerned about the legalistic approach of the Judaizers. This tiny Colossian church surely felt the pull from each of these competing worldviews. It found itself trying to navigate truth from the middle of two extreme ideologies. If there is something about that “difficult middle” that feels at all familiar to you, it should.
When the World Frames the Issues for Us
The Apostle Paul warned the church on numerous occasions against being influenced by the world more than being an influence in the world. One of the ways this happens in a political culture is that we (the church) allow politics to frame some very important issues for us. Our government leaders are often dealing with issues that “belonged” to the church long before they became political. And I think we can all agree about what happens to issues once they get hijacked by political processes. Political agendas have a way of corrupting otherwise meaningful, problem-solving conversations. If we allow political processes to frame our issues and to give us the vocabulary to talk about the issues, then we find it impossible to avoid all those same political dynamics. In short, we forsake a Christ-centered worldview for a political worldview. Our focus on Christ begins to fade.
The Problem with Platforms
Don’t get me wrong. Good, well-reasoned theology will always influence our political engagement. And it should. But when the tables turn and our politics begin to shape and influence our theology, we have a problem. If I claim to follow Christ and it just so happens that my theology lines up 100% with one or the other political party platform, then I just might have an idol in my life. Paul’s challenge to us is to be so filled with Christ, so focused on Christ, that even the formidable narratives of CNN or of Fox News cannot dictate how we see and talk about the problems in our world.
When the Bride Looks Confused
As Christ followers (i.e., as the church), we are the Bride of Christ. He is coming back for us. That is a powerful metaphor in terms of our commitment and our focus. It calls us to a certain attention to Him. It asks us how much of our time we spend focusing on Him as opposed to being outraged on Facebook or Twitter. And, as His bride, we never appear more confused and conflicted than when we fill our lives with worldly outrage and agendas forged by politics. And so, as SCOTUS navigates these political waters, and as Congress muddles through impeachment inquiries, and as the 2020 election campaigns heat up, let’s encourage each other to keep our focus on Christ. Let’s leave the outrage to the rest of the world.
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” Hebrews 3:1
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