Over the last few days, I have been digging into the life of Chuck Colson via his memoir, Born Again. The story of Nixon’s former hatchet man turned follower of Jesus has been extremely timely and a blessing during this contentious political era.
Of particular note in the lessons one can learn from Born Again and Colson’s life is how believers of differing political stripes should treat each other. I don’t know if Colson would give this exact list or not, but looking at his life, I am being challenged by what I think is his guide for the life of politically inclined believers:
Jesus Above State
And it’s not even close. If you are forced to pick between modeling Christ and upholding political parties or the state, you pick Christ, hands down, every time. I think there are leniencies when it comes to the majority of policy platforms (while there is a Biblical basis for certain things, I see Scripture twisted on both sides of the aisle constantly in an attempt to “get Jesus on their side”). But at the end of the day, you serve Christ, not government or partisanship. That is the foundation for how Christians must approach politics.
Brothers and Sisters Above Party
You have more in common with a brother or sister in Christ that doesn’t share your politics than unsaved people who are in your political camp. We succumb to tribalism easily – the kingdom of God MUST come before the kingdom of American politics. One of the most inspiring things about Colson’s life was the bipartisan circle of men who set aside politics and agenda advancement for the sake of Christ. They differed in policy but fervently prayed for one another, prioritizing the good of the others, even if it hurt their political plans. THAT is the kinship that the body of Christ should cling to, politics be damned.
Disagree Without Being Disagreeable
Unity within believers does not mean pretending like there are no personal disagreements (or in this case, political disagreement). The difference is in HOW you disagree. You stay kind, you stay compassionate, and you realize that policy is policy – people are much more important.
Keep The Partisan and the Personal FAR Apart
And when you’re politically disagreeing, you NEVER combine the partisan with the personal. If you’re to attack a policy, you attack it on facts, you argue on merit – you do NOT attack the brother or sister advocating the policy. This is a good rule in general, but of utmost importance within the politically active body of Christ.
Abandon Politics Before You Abandon Christ
Finally, you ALWAYS abandon politics before you abandon Christ. If you can’t avoid being sucked in by the tribalism, if something is damaging your witness, if it is becoming an uncontrollable idol, if it is separating you from Christ, you LEAVE. Abandon it for a week, a month, a season, forever. Whatever it takes.
While Christians should be kind and Christlike towards everyone, believers who vote and advocate differently than us can present unique challenges. I have been very challenged by the life of Colson this week – will you wrestle through these tenets alongside me?