Politics or Jesus?

“How do you think about things… politically?” I directed this question to my friend and coworker at the start of a long road trip.

He was a black man unafraid to share his opinions, and we were only a few days removed from the Trayvon Martin shooting. I still don’t know what answer I was hoping for. Maybe validation of my own political views, maybe vindication from any responsibility to choose a side in the national discussion, or maybe even vilification for my perceived role in an unjust society as a white male. Either way, I was certainly expecting a long conversation about Trayvon Martin and injustices in our society.

“I don’t think politically.” He responded.

“Oh, sorry,” I replied, “I mean, how do you feel about the political atmosphere in our culture?”

He said, “I know what you mean. It doesn’t matter. I don’t think about things that way.”

“Hmm,” I tried again, “How do you think about things?”

“As a Christian, I believe the Gospel is the only thing that can change anything,” he said, “So I think about everything that way. Political systems and political leaders don’t change the reality that everyone needs the gospel. Everyone needs to be in love with Jesus, and that starts with me being in love with Jesus.”

Since that conversation four years ago, the climate surrounding civil rights in our society has intensified, and the presidential choices seem to be worse. But I think I have joined my friend in saying, “I don’t think politically.”

The only thing that matters is that Jesus loves us. He wants to restore our relationship with Him, and nothing outside of that has any meaning. If you,like me, are a Christian, the entire goal of our lives should be to walk in a relationship with Jesus; and doing that is always possible – even in the worst political, social, economic, and physical environments. However, as we focus completely on Christ and trust Him for all our needs in every circumstance, he provides more comfort and joy than we could imagine.

There is one ironic thing about this. If we start focusing on making our environment better by electing someone or buying a nice house, it will take our focus away from our relationship with Jesus. As a byproduct, it impedes our relationships with other people. Ultimately, it makes our political, social, economic, and physical environments worse.

Maybe this is why Jesus says, “I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear…. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6.25,32-33 NLT)

So today, are we chasing Jesus, or are we worrying about our political environment?