Christians are feuding like Los Angeles (LA) gangs over political preferences. Perhaps they should be called the “Democrips and Rebloodicans” given the amount of venom and hate they sling back-and-forth. The Crips and the Bloods, the famously 80s West Coast gang duo, are notorious rivals. As dangerous as these gang members are, it appears that the Democrats and Republicans are much, much worse.
The religious community has seemingly lost its way. Christians are not called to be American elephants or donkeys primarily; first and foremost they belong to the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The allegiance of this party rests with Christ and him alone. Jesus was political but at the same time never entangled himself in the politics of his day. Instead, he was able to wisely and winsomely navigate politically toxic traps and point to another kingdom and another way of looking at issues.
When the church is at its best, God uses it to change and impact lives beyond the walls of the institution. But when it is not at its best, it can mirror the mentality of LA street gangs. When Christians act like the Bloods or Crips, they become an insular community concerned only about those within their party. In some situations, these “members” feel as if they have to protect themselves from the surrounding community rather than seek to redeem those it is called to serve.
Christians can disagree politically but must love unconditionally and pray for unity. Fear should not fuel a believer’s actions. Instead, love must guide both our conversations and choices. The gospel will spread just as Jesus intended when Christians across America are willing to humble themselves and seek unity in love. In a conversation with his disciples, Jesus said (paraphrased):
Look, I’m about to leave. Here’s one thing I don’t want you to forget: I’m giving you a new command to replace all the other commands, and it’s very simple. Love one another. As I have loved you, you’re to love one another.
In the first century, “all of them” meant Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, slaves and freemen, tax-gatherers, and those from whom taxes were gathered, the educated and the uneducated. Everybody. In the current context, it means Republicans and Democrats, the privileged and underprivileged, the Independent, the undecided, the Libertarians, the Black and brown and white, and the married, single, and divorced. Everyone.
Jesus said the world would know they were his followers by the way they loved one another. He did not long for his followers to be unified in politics or campaign talking points, only in love. This leaves many wounded believers wondering why Christians, as followers of an eternal king, would allow themselves to be divided by temporary political systems, leaders, or platforms and/or be divided by fear?
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14
It is a fact that one political candidate wins or loses based on how citizens cast their vote (in conjunction with the Electoral College) But the church wins or loses, the community wins or loses—and in some way, the nation wins or loses—based on how Christians love each other. This is why Jesus said his followers must not allow anything or anyone to divide his body. As believers consider candidates and policies, there is one question Christians must not neglect in their decision making: “What does love require of us?”
The stakes of each presidential election increase political tension and heighten public anxiety. Americans should not see their individual liberty or the autonomy of their churches and communities as so dependent on the identity of a President.
The Christian’s hope should not attempt to land in the perfect political party. Our hope is the message and teaching of Jesus. During America’s history as a nation, both political parties and their leaders have gotten it wrong; they have failed morally and in terms of leadership.
When Christians spew hate and toxic rhetoric instead of love, they are essentially pledging allegiance to the likes of LA street gangs such as the Crips or Bloods. Ironically, the Bloods’ color is red, like the Republicans, and the Crips’ color is blue, like the Democrats.
Americans must realize, that while street gangs are violent, the Democrats and Republicans are by far worse. As long as Christians continue to feud like LA street gangs, the community continues to suffer, and the nation as a whole cannot heal. Instead, Christians must love one another as we struggle and sacrifice for the unity Jesus prayed for. In the end, more important than how you voted will be how you showed love.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
HuffPost: When Christians Act Like Crips Instead Of Christ
Forbes: Ventura Explains Why Governments Are Like Gangs
Center for Pastor Theologians: Pluralism, Politics, and St. Augustine
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