Editor’s note: Dana Hall McCain is a columnist for AL.com She writes about faith, culture, and politics and is a member of the 2020 Leadership Council for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Here she does an excellent job of shedding light on these very uncertain times:
“It’s almost cliché now to say it, but our nation has never been more divided. Our politics have migrated further and further toward the right and left ends of the spectrum, leaving the center a ghost town.
The media landscape has responded in kind, with many news outlets choosing to survive economically by catering to a particular demographic. It goes without saying that this leads to distortions of editorial integrity, and creates journalists who tell their target audiences what they want to hear and will come back for. The result is that Americans no longer work from a shared set of facts in the conversation about how to address our most pressing problems. We exist in two separate bubbles.
Objective truth still exists, of course. But you’ll have to take the emergency hammer and break your bubble to find it.
For Christians, the cost of living inside either bubble is even greater than political polarization and government gridlock. Inside the bubble, it’s easy to become so frustrated and jaded toward our ideological and political adversaries that we forget who is who in this equation.
What I mean is: we begin to believe that our political opponents are our enemies rather than our mission field. Thus, we treat them as foes to vanquish more than the lost in need of the Gospel. We forget that our first calling is evangelism rather than the acquisition or retention of political power.
Don’t get me wrong — we have a mandate in the word of God to live and speak the truth, to advocate for the oppressed, and to promote justice and righteousness. Those things required that we remain active in the public square and the political conversation.
But we must keep our roles rightly ordered. If our primary identity is rooted in the Great Commission, our political engagement must take a tone and form that doesn’t impede first-order business. We can’t undercut a task of eternal importance in service to achieving things that will not last.
Much of how we see ourselves and our responsibility in the political moment rests in our theology. Do we operate out of an eternal perspective rooted in the acknowledged sovereignty of God, or is every election Flight 93?
Political operatives are masters of creating Flight 93-level anxiety to motivate you to act or vote as they wish. Professing Christians on both the right and the left succumb to it easily, all while white-knuckling a bible that tells them that fear is not of God. (2 Timothy 1:7)
We freak out about doing God’s business, with no sense of irony.
What’s more, when you brand every election as The Most Important Election of Our Lives, it loses its zing after a while. Admittedly, they’re all important. Elections have consequences. But every decision in your life has consequences, many of them far more immediate that whatever nonsense is going on in Washington, DC.
When we take a deep breath and reorient ourselves to the fact that God will still be on the throne no matter who is President next year, we give ourselves space in which to simply be obedient, and trust God with the outcome. No need to be angry or panic if others disagree on what Christlike citizenship looks like. Just pray and act as your conscience dictates.
We can afford to disagree respectfully — especially with your brothers and sisters in Christ — because our God is sovereign. You don’t have to burn bridges and destroy unity over every little thing. I would even argue that boorish, divisive advocacy is the least effective kind, because it is an indication that we are working in our flesh, rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We have been given much grace. Let’s choose to pay it forward in the coming weeks for the good of the Body of Christ, and the good of our national unity.”