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Politics: America's Astonishingly Awful Religion

01-09-2021
Image Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Image Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

I’ve been trying to collect my thoughts on everything that happened yesterday, but it’s been tough. Here’s what I’m increasingly convinced of: America is looking herself in the mirror.

For almost a year now, our country has been roiling. We’re divided over the coronavirus pandemic, we’re split over matters of racial injustice, and our country is fractured over the 2020 presidential election.

Collectively, it seems, the loudest among us have placed their faith, hope, and trust in politics, which can make a great vehicle for societal change. But it makes an astonishingly awful religion.

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Some on the fringe who are unwaveringly pro-Trump have pledged total fealty to the president, even comparing Vice President Mike Pence to Judas — the disciple who betrayed Jesus to the Roman authorities — because he promised to carry out his constitutional duty to oversee the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over Trump, who has maintained the election was stolen from him.

People are angry: they feel unheard, they see hypocrisy from the left and in the media. But religious zeal practiced by a noisy political minority is what led to what happened Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol, where rioters stormed the House and Senate chambers, damaging and stealing government property. Ultimately, four people lost their lives.

Over the summer, we saw leftist rioters literally setting cities around the country on fire, demanding people repeat the mantra “Black Lives Matter” unless they wanted to face a violent mob determined to bring about their destruction. We saw law enforcement officers as well as protesters lose their lives. We watched as businesses already struggling under coronavirus restrictions were ransacked, looted, and set ablaze, all the while many of our Democratic political leaders sat idly by, taking no substantive actions to quell the deadly violence. Some even seemed to endorse the destruction.

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All of that was the result of politics as religion. Some of us are turning to politics for eternal and absolute answers, and it’s falling short.

America is looking herself in the mirror.

We’re deeply divided, and many of us are looking for hope in all the wrong places. When we turn to a rotten vine, placing total faith in political parties and people, we reap rotten fruits: violence, hatred, and division.

What happened over the summer is rotten fruit. What happened in D.C. Wednesday is rotten fruit. The deep-seated divisions broadcast all over cable news networks day in and day out is rotten fruit. Watching our politicians elevate their fellow activists and lawmakers to god-like statuses is rotten fruit. Demanding ideological purity from everyone around us is rotten fruit.

As Christians, we know of a Vine that is not rotten and never will be. We know of a source that produces healthy fruit. It’s Jesus — not more toxic political movements — who is the answer to the problems plaguing us.

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Jesus told His disciples in John 15: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers.”

Perhaps a silver lining in all this is America got to see herself in the mirror. We have the opportunity now to look at the damage that comes from idolizing politics and politicians, from turning to fallible, temporary systems for life-giving, eternal answers.

We cannot continue in this way. It’s not sustainable. My prayer is that the reflection we’ve seen in recent months will reveal that to us.

Christians have true hope, and today is a great time to share it with those around us. It’s a new day, and God’s mercies are fresh each morning.

So take a breath, and just do the next right thing. Stand up for what’s right; call out what’s wrong; practice trusting God with everything.

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