6 Ways Believers Can Respectfully Engage in Politics
By: Alyssa Mendez and Richard Blatz
Inauguration Day is here — a fact that can be met with joy or disappointment depending on who you are. As Christians, how are we responding to the growing political tensions and approaching one of the most taboo topics of our time? Calvary Christian Academy’s Content Specialist, Alyssa Mendez, had the chance to sit down with Social Studies Department Chair, Richard Blatz, to discuss some drama-free ways we can approach politics, engage civically, and represent Christ well.
As I reflect upon the three decades of life I’ve been blessed to experience, it’s hard to remember a time when I was not politically engaged and drawn to public service. Whether I was at the Kendall Lakes Moose Lodge precinct helping my mom punch holes for the candidates she wanted to vote for, campaigning on the sidewalk with signs in hand trying to get cars to honk for the candidate who was running for Miami-Dade County mayor, working at a Commissioner’s campaign office for my first paid job in high school, or interning on Capitol Hill in college. Elections and politics invigorated and inspired me, until they no longer did.
Perhaps it was because the naivety of my youth was fading away, or maybe because I noticed how politics were increasingly dividing people, pitting friends and families against each other. Whatever the case, I do know that I was jaded and discouraged, which led me to willfully disengage from the arena that had once captivated my interest.
Although I never regained the same level of zeal I once had, in time, the Lord did do a work in my heart in terms of changing the way I approach politics. I’m still able to appreciate it (probably more than the average person) but in a manner that does not involve putting my hope in it, which was a major mindset shift. I hope you find these six tips of engagement from myself and my colleague Richard Blatz, Calvary Christian Academy’s Social Studies Department Head, helpful and even challenging as we face Inauguration Day and its aftereffects.
Put your hope in Jesus Christ, not in earthly rulers.
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” -Romans 13:1
As Christians, we can find comfort and peace knowing that whoever ends up in power is in that position because God has allowed that to happen. So whether you like or disapprove whoever is in authority, the Almighty God is still on His throne and has a plan and purpose that our finite minds cannot comprehend.
whoever ends up in power is in that position because God has allowed that to happen
“You can rest easy knowing that God raises up leaders to bless and sometimes to judge, and that's OK, because sometimes we need to be reminded that God is ever-present even when the political winds of our days don’t align with our values. In fact, so often it is in the difficult days of judgement and discomfort where we see God at work in such a clear and visible way,” said Blatz.
We must remember that we ultimately live for a kingdom that has yet to come
We must remember that we ultimately live for a kingdom that has yet to come — a heavenly Kingdom that will be ruled by a perfect and loving leader named Jesus Christ who will reign forever. If we keep our eyes fixed on that prize, the political turmoil here on earth will be less likely to weigh down our spirits and destabilize our lives.
Pray for leaders and respect them, even if you don’t agree with them.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” -1 Timothy 2:1-2
This can definitely be easier said than done. However, think about how many times Jesus called His followers to embrace counterculture ideas. He challenged them to love their enemies, pray for those who persecuted them, turn the other cheek, and more. Surely, He wouldn’t call us to do these things if we weren’t capable of doing them. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit, our Helper, to empower us to achieve the seemingly impossible and not give into the desires of our flesh.
we have the Holy Spirit, our Helper, to empower us to achieve the seemingly impossible
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to remember to pray for those in positions of leadership, not just in the governmental sphere but also in your churches, schools, and other influential institutions. Leadership is a cross to bear, so these individuals can certainly use the anointing of prayer daily.
Accept the fact that heaven will have Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16
This passage doesn’t say, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever [belongs to this political party] shall not perish but have eternal life.” Rather, those who surrender their lives to Jesus Christ will inherit the Kingdom of heaven and become our brothers and sisters forever. “The people of God are a motley crew; we’re going to see all kinds of political stripes in heaven,” Blatz said.
“The people of God are a motley crew; we’re going to see all kinds of political stripes in heaven,” Blatz said.
During this election season, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You can’t vote for So and So and be a Christian”... oftentimes from Christians. When did we become so quick to judge others and make such sweeping assumptions about others and their salvation? “We underestimate the power of grace, and if we look deeply enough, we may even find that it angers us when others receive it who we deem unworthy of it,” Blatz said.
John 1:16 states that “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” May we not be quick to point out the sin and shortcomings in others’ lives but not recognize them in ours. There is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). We’re all in need of the redeeming love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to cleanse us.
Focus on common ground with others.
“When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.” -1 Corinthians 9:22
Recently, I’ve had coffee and lunch outings with dear friends from college I don’t see eye-to-eye politically with for the most part. I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried about how our conversations were going to go; the last thing I wanted was for a heated debate to ensue.
Although we did touch upon political and social topics during our time together, I’m thankful that we were able to focus more on the things we could agree upon, which made for an enjoyable outing. Meeting on common, non-threatening ground can soften one’s heart, open the door for future conversations, and deepen relationships.
there’s so much more to people than their political affiliations.
We must also remember that there’s so much more to people than their political affiliations. If we put people in a box based on their party or who they vote for, we are missing an opportunity to recognize and appreciate their other unique traits and interests. Where we align politically is not our identity. We are first and foremost daughters and sons of the King who are created in His image and called to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Think before you post.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:5-6
Social media can be a tumultuous place during an election year, even more so in the middle of a pandemic. I found myself having to take a hiatus from it to preserve my mental and spiritual well-being. But if you are on these platforms, I challenge you to think before posting controversial content and check your heart for the motive behind your post.
Are you trying to change people’s minds? Do you want others to think of you a certain kind of way? Are you trying to belittle or discredit people who don’t believe what you do? Or do you enjoy “stirring the pot” to see people have at it in a comment war?
Our behavior on social media is part of our witness as Christians.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, I exhort you to consider using social media as a tool to build others up instead of contributing to the negative narratives. Or like we often say to young children, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all 😊. Our behavior on social media is part of our witness as Christians.
Be the change you wish to see.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” -Matthew 25:40
Lastly, if you have the opportunity to make a positive difference in your community, what are you waiting for? “We are the government with legs,” Blatz said. We have the power to impact people’s everyday lives probably more so than the executive branch does through involvement in church outreach events and non-profit organizations that are already mobilized and established in their respective communities.
You can even champion a program or initiative of your own that shows the love of Jesus Christ, helps those in need, and/or addresses a problem. Start by thinking about the burdens and passions God has placed on your heart. A great example of this is CCA middle school student Joshua Runde who used his gifts in STEM to 3D print face shields for medical workers when there was a shortage earlier this year. He was even featured by Baskin Robbins and lauded for being a “pint-sized hero”!
As you can see, engaging in politics can look many different ways and can actually be quite simple and drama-free. Whatever our engagement looks like, may it be a favorable representation of the God we serve that makes people want to learn more about Him.
Alyssa Mendez joined the CCA family in 2019 and serves as the Content Specialist on the Marketing and Communications team. She is a UF grad, wife to a chef, and proud dog mom to a Great Pyrenees. Over the summer, she graduated with her master’s degree in Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.
Richard Blatz joined the CCA family in 2010 and serves as the Social Studies Department Chair. He holds an undergraduate degree in History, a Masters in Social Studies Education, and a second Masters in Divinity with an emphasis in Christian and Classical Studies. Rich is husband to Lidia Blatz and a proud dad to his two boys: Richy (13) and Harrison (6).
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