I’m a follower of Jesus and though I am far from perfect on that path, I truly am grateful for the grace of God in my life. I’ve also been in the political arena for almost 30 years and I get questioned or even challenged often about reconciling living in the kingdom of God with living in the rough, sometimes savage world of the kingdom of politics & government. Sometimes, the questions are honest and simple, such as “how can you be a Christian and engage in something as mean and vicious as politics?” And then there are the people who usually admit they aren’t even believers, but who blast me on social media platforms like Twitter and seek to shame me by saying something I’ve said or done “isn’t very Christian.”
Well, determining something to be Christian or not isn’t the responsibility of some Twitter troll who believes they rattle me by questioning the authenticity of my faith. Sorry, Charlie, but you’re fishing in the Dead Sea! God knows me inside and out and is uniquely qualified to rebuke me, correct me, or even discipline me. The petty and often petulant grievances of some twit typing out his tantrums while sitting in his Snoopy pajamas in his Mama’s basement doesn’t disturb me. God gets my attention. The angry, irrational bile coming from someone hiding behind a juvenile “internet name” doesn’t cause me to curl up in a fetal position and meow like a house-cat set outside in the cold.
And for those who think Christians in politics shouldn’t fight back and should be sweet, smiling, and sugary, let me explain something. If a Christian plays in the NFL, he hits people. Hard. He tackles, he blocks, he runs over people. If he doesn’t, he won’t even start on a junior high team, much less make it to the NFL. Because in the arena of football, it’s just a rough game. If a Christian plays in the NBA, he will fight for every rebound, use his elbows to keep the ball, and run over people in the lane to get the shot, because in the arena of basketball, that’s how it’s played.
And in the game of politics, there are no prizes for 2nd place; everyone does NOT get a trophy, and you have to play hard and fight hard because the issues matter. Sure, you play within the rules and you don’t cheat, lie, or hit below the belt. But the football player unwilling to hit hard won’t be in the game long. And the candidate who doesn’t fight for every inch of turf doesn’t belong in the game, because like it or not, that’s the arena in which we play.
One doesn’t have to be unnecessarily rough, mean, or vicious, but don’t play politics if you can’t stand to see your own blood, or can’t accept being hit from behind. It’s a full contact sport played without pads. Not for the faint of heart. The Christian in the NFL or NBA plays hard and plays to win, but hopefully plays ethically. The Christian in politics shouldn’t lie, steal, or cheat, but can’t pretend the game is without conflict and contact.
Taking a stand for the sanctity of life, for Biblical marriage, or for the treatment of the poor may take some tough tactics. Doesn’t mean you aren’t a Christian if you play for keeps. It means you aren’t much of a Christian if the outcome means so little to you that you’d rather be popular with your opponents than to win the issues.
But wasn’t Jesus nice? Of course, but he also called his opponents snakes a vipers and even turned over tables in the Temple to protest exploitation of gullible people. It’s okay to hate politics, but it’s not okay to pretend you’re in the game when you don’t have the courage to play to win.