When You Make Politics into An Idol
The first commandment says “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt...You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1-2) The earliest Christian confession about Jesus of Nazareth was “Jesus is Lord” (The Greek word used in that confession is “Kyrios,” which translates the Hebrew “Adonai,” Lord.) When something or someone is the Lord and Master of our lives, that thing must be more important than everything else.
Suppose professional football were the most important thing in peoples’ lives. Suppose football were more important than people, more important than family, more important than nation, more important than God! If you can imagine a world where professional football was more important than all those things, you can also imagine that people whose team was the Houston Texans could end up hating people whose team was the Dallas Cowboys. They could easily get to the point where they imagined the other side was less than human. Who knows, they might even fight a war about it sometime, just like in the real world, nations sometimes fight one another.
Some people think that various religions are no different than football teams, because (these people say) they just divide the world up into opposing groups. (However, as I see it, if Jesus is my Lord, I cannot prefer those who follow him to those who do not. That is because I believe he died for everyone in the world, and he loves everyone in the world. He wants everyone in the world to know him and be saved by him [I Timothy 2:4])
The God who created the whole world, who died for the whole world, and who loves the whole world is the only God who can prevent us from dividing the world into ins and outs, because he loves everyone the same and “does not show favorites.” (In Acts 20:34-5 we read, “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.’” In that passage, the first non-Jewish convert to Jesus Christ, the Roman soldier Cornelius, accepts the good news which Peter preaches.)
I believe Christians must strive to avoid putting anything in the place of God. For example, we cannot prefer our nation to God, because that would make our nation into a false god!
I believe that one of the things people have made a false god in today’s world is politics! In 1958, 72 % of the population didn’t care if their son or daughter married a Democrat or a Republican. Today something like 55% of the population would care if their child married someone of the opposite political persuasion! Only 45 % wouldn’t care about the politics of the person their child married— down from 72 % in 1958.
What does this show us? It shows us simply that instead of worshiping the true God more people may be making a false god out of politics. And what do false gods do? They disappoint us, and ultimately, they lead us away from life to death! They do that because they take us away from the true God who created all people, who loves all people, and who died for all people.
When our children were little my only desire was that they would be followers of Christ and that they would marry followers of Christ. I didn’t care, for example about the race of person they married.
Some people might think my desire for our children to marry believers was narrow-minded. But the New Testament says two things about this subject. First of all, it says believers should not be “unequally yoked” with nonbelievers. (II Corinthians 6:4). The reason for this is if you say God is the most important thing in your whole life and you want to live for him, you can’t really do that very effectively if your life partner is someone who doesn’t share that same commitment— you will be “unequally yoked.”
Yet the New Testament also says if you are a believer who is already married to someone who is a nonbeliever you should stay committed to that person and try to show them the truth by your love for them.
My point is that whereas many people used to be more concerned that their child marry someone in the faith, their new “faith” and their new “god” seem to have become politics, and politics is a false god and an idol that leads only to death when we make it number one in our lives!
Please understand what I am not saying. I’m not saying that you should not be interested in or involved in politics. But I am saying that when you make politics more important than anything else, and you dehumanize those who do not share your political views, you have made politics into a false god. And false gods never bring life. They bring only death.
Winfield Casey Jones is a retired pastor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An earlier article first appeared in the Pearland and Friendswood Reporter News.