Politically Incorrect?

Editor's Note: This article appears to have been originally written during the 2008 Presidential Election season, but its truth is timeless. AW



By Phil Johnson - Posted at Grace to You:

Matthew 20:25–28; Luke 10:21; John 6:37; John 10:27; Romans 13:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:21-25; 1 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Galatians 2:21; Galatians 3:21; 1 Peter 1:23

If you came thinking I’m going to tell you how to vote this year, or suggest ways to mobilize your people to sway elections in your home town, you are probably going to be disappointed. In fact, those of you who know anything about me might be surprised that I’m even dealing with a topic like this one. I was frankly surprised when the guys who organize these seminars assigned me this session. Election-year politics are not really my cup of tea. And I don’t mean I’m not interested in the subject. I mean that I purposely try to keep my distance from it.

There’s a good reason for that. Before I became a Christian, I was a hard-core, obsessive political activist. Throughout my high-school years, I thought I wanted to be either a politician or a newspaper pundit when I grew up. That was my highest worldly aspiration, and the political power-struggle was the single, central, driving interest of my life. But when I became a Christian, I gave that passion up for something infinitely better—something of eternal value: the gospel of Christ.

I won’t give you my whole testimony about that. It’s on an audio-recording of one of my sermons somewhere downloadable from the Internet. But the short version is that from the night of my conversion until today, I have deliberately steered clear of partisan politics in the same way most of you would try to steer clear of pornography or recreational drugs. Because in my own experience as an unregenerate person, party politics represented that same kind of addiction. In fact, it was the very first worldly fixation I set aside when I became a Christian—because it struck me almost from the outset that an obsession with earthly power and political ideology is basically an addiction to the wisdom of this world, which is foolishness with God.

That’s not to suggest that I’m naturally apathetic about politics. To this day, I know that if I listened to a steady diet of Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter, I would begin to feel rising fits of those same old political passions. But political activism was so much of an idol in my old, pre-Christian life that today I think of it in pretty much the same way the apostle Paul said he regarded his former life as a Pharisee: I count it as dung. I’ve relegated those passions to the rubbish heap of things I count as loss, “In order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”

Some of you are probably already thinking that sounds pretty harsh. If you are inclined to be a political activist yourself, you no doubt think I’m terribly short-sighted, or too much of an isolationist. I hasten to say that I’m not suggesting there’s anything inherently sinful about holding electoral office or doing public service. If it’s your calling to be mayor of your town or a congressman from your district, you’ll get nothing but encouragement from me as long as you seek to fulfill that task to the glory of Christ. But you need to do that not merely by flexing your power, but mainly by being a consistent example of Christlike service and humility. Of course, that’s just what every Christian in the secular workplace should endeavor to do. In the words of 1 Timothy 4:12, “in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”

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