Avoiding Shipwreck in the Nasty Waters of the Political Sea

Perhaps you have noticed that politics have gotten increasingly hostile in recent years. Through even limited exposure to media, the average person is constantly battered by negativity. Cruelly worded attack ads filled with half-truths and blatant lies paint opposing candidates as uncaring, devious, and even sinister adversaries looking to plunder and pillage the poor, unsuspecting soul.

Citizens of any nation have a vested interest in their governments, and our upcoming U.S. presidential election is certainly no different. The stakes are especially high for Christians who are concerned about the poor, the unborn, religious freedoms, and the general welfare of those we love. It only makes sense that we would involve ourselves in these matters.

Photo by DonkeyHotey — CC BY 2.0

But politics are dangerous waters and far too many unsuspecting Christians have found themselves perilously grounded on hidden reefs in tumultuous seas. Without question, avoiding shipwreck in the nasty waters of the political ocean requires a certain measure of attention and skill. Those who relax their vigilance will soon find themselves hopelessly stuck.

Over the next four posts I plan to highlight four traps in the political arena that snare Christians with lightning-like tenacity. They are the pursuit of self-interests, the hardening of the heart, the quest for control, and the susceptibility to a stronghold of fear. We’ll begin with the pursuit of self-interests.

Not long after President Obama was elected, the major networks televised his State of the Union Address as he spoke to all of the very important people in government. Regardless of whether one is politically liberal or conservative, it certainly was a historic event with America having just elected its first African American president; all of Washington was justifiably abuzz. I remember one of the more seasoned political commentators mentioning that virtually every elected official was hoping for one particular thing that evening. A brief silence followed as we all waited to hear noble and eloquent words about the altruistic motives of our elected officials.

“They all want to get their faces on TV.”

Are there no political officials who genuinely seek the good of the people they serve? Certainly, there must be at least a few. (I know they exist on the local level.) Government only works well when government officials serve the people with a concern for the greater good. But serving the greater good equates to political suicide in our 30-second sound-byte world of media nastiness. Even worse, the self-centeredness identified by this particular political correspondent is in many ways representative of our general populace–and you can be sure of one thing–political candidates have shrewdly learned how to manipulate our self-centered emotions!

Quicksand Photo by Alaskan Dude – CC BY 2.0

As much as we may care about our own little worlds, we will soon be trapped in the quicksand of self-interests if we do not learn to develop other-centered, kingdom of God perspectives. The only way that a free nation can survive is if such freedoms are built upon a foundation of love. And if those who profess Christ are concerned primarily about their own self-interests, I can guarantee you that the rest of the population will fare no better. Love is not an optional side dish. We cannot survive without love.

Both the left and the right have pandered to political self-interests for far too long. One can only blow up a balloon to be so large before it explodes. The unfortunate reality of our national debt means that at some point we will all need to pay a painful price. And if we are unwilling to pay that price, you can be sure that those who come after us will have but little choice.

I am by no means trying to tell Christians how to vote, but I am warning my brothers and sisters in Christ to steer clear of the hidden reef of self-interests. Large ships are every bit as susceptible as the small, and the personal and political consequences of running aground will not be easily or quickly forgotten.