WRITTEN BY Chase Ringler
We won’t spend eternity talking about politics. Actually, I’m not even sure if we will give a nanosecond to what so many in evangelical churches idolize. Yes, I said it, “idolize.” My scope of evangelicalism is limited to the United States, though I have come in contact with a few brothers and sisters in Christ from around the globe. These dear family members have repeatedly echoed the same thing, “American Christians talk about politics way more than we [fill in country of origin] do.” One German brother even went as far to say that what he saw in the United States was “concerning.”
When I heard him say this, I very quickly and defensively, dismissed him. I mean, come on, American patriotism exists because of American exceptionalism. The US of A is the greatest country to ever exist on God’s green earth. Not to mention, the “concern” was coming from a man who was a citizen of a nation that lost two world wars and had one of the vilest leaders in the history of mankind. What did he have to be proud of?
And yet, as I sit here several years removed from that conversation I think back to his remarks and agree with him!
I realize if these meanderings of thoughts ever get public I will be whistled in evangelical circles as one of those crazy hippie millennials who don’t value the sacrifices of those who have shed their blood so that I might live in a land that is free and have a right to vote.
Before you rush to those conclusions, please hear me out.
I didn’t agree with my German brother overnight. In fact, I used to be by far one of the most politic loving people out there. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Fox News were my listening of choice even while I was in elementary. Seriously, I would ask my parents if we could listen to those programs on the radio if we were in the car, and I would intentionally turn Fox News on the TV. If that wasn’t enough, I read newspapers galore, and had already volunteered for several political campaigns by the time I was 18.
All of these activities were to prepare me for my inevitable call into the political realm. I had aspirations of being Governor of Indiana and Senate Majority Leader of the United States.
Then, my grandpa died. I spoke at his funeral. After the service thirteen people came up to me and asked if I was going to be a pastor. I thought I would be foolish not to at least pray about whether that was my calling and long story short I am doing a job I thought I would never be doing. I am a youth pastor.
I give you all this background information to simply show you I was not raised to be anti-political, or for that matter, anti-veteran. I am really not anti-political now. I simply agree with my German brother, and minutes before penning these words, I was repenting for myself, my church, and the American church at-large.
You see, I am concerned with the abundance of talk about politics in the American church, and the lack of talk about holiness, or sin, or repentance, or even the Gospel. This is not simply a critique of pastors and their bully pulpits. I cannot begin to tell you how many conversations I have had with the average Joe or Jolene about politics at church. The scary thing is, over my life I might have had more personal conversations about George Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, than I have had about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Folks, that’s the definition of an idol.
I have never had a conversation with people who said the pastor needs to talk about the holiness of God more, but, I have had dozens of conversations with people who want the pastor to talk about politics more. When we as the American church desire to talk about politics more than we do about the character of our God it shows that the heart of the American church is not resting in the arms of a heavenly Savior, but in the false security of the ever-changing political agendas of Washington.
There is much that could be said of why we value politics so much as American evangelicals, but right now I am not concerned with the “why” but the “what”. What do you treasure more than anything else? A good indication of what you treasure is what you talk about, what you think about, what you watch, what you listen to, and even what you fear. If you fear a successful Hilary Clinton campaign in 2020 more than you fear the Lord, your treasure is not in the Kingdom.
The American church is not going to be judged by political clout, but by the collective of individual hearts who have either treasured Jesus above all, or sought after another treasure that is not lasting. There will be no elections in Heaven. They already have a King who has sat on His throne for all eternity and will continue to do so. Do you treasure this King above all else?
Chase is the Youth Pastor at Wallen Baptist Church