“Unprecedented times,” “polarization,” and “new normal” have become favorite words from the mouths of CNN and Fox News commentators. We are in a world of racial turmoil and a pandemic virus as we prepare to decide as a nation of who will be the best candidate to navigate these stormy waters.
When I served in student ministry, it was always fascinating to hear students talk about politics. Their dogmatic views of the heroes and villains of Washington were way beyond their age and personal research. These views being so passionately shared were simply being parroted from mom and dad at home. How did Jesus respond to politics in His day, and how should we in ours?
After Jesus performed a miracle and fed 5,000 men plus countless women and children, the crowd erupted, and the moment changed. John 6:15 says, “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” The crowds wanted Jesus to be a political patriot, yet He ran away because He knew that His mission was much greater than mere politics.
In the moment where Jesus had a shot to become the political King of the Jews, He leaves the scene. He does not meet with the leaders of the political party. He does not become a lobbyist. He doesn’t pick a candidate to endorse. He simply moves on. Jesus cannot be contained by a party, side, or political persuasion. The priorities of Jesus are seen in a heart for humanity and a love for neighbor that raises hard questions that no single political system can adequately answer. As we approach politics with our kids, we need to remember that our kids are listening to what we say and watching how we respond. We should seek to have thoughtful conversations with our kids about politics and ideas that matter, yet we must remember that Jesus refuses to take sides, that faith must impact our decisions, and that the Gospel that unites us is much more important than the aisle that divides us.
We should equip our kids to engage with ideas instead of demonizing people and to look beyond temporary conversations to seek to talk about eternal things. Our kids are watching, the world is watching, and how will our Christian faith be defined in this moment in history?
-Dr. Ben Birdsong
Writer, speaker, and minister