The Medenblog

Faith, Politics, and the First Commandment

I saw a survey recently where half of those surveyed said that at a family and friend gathering they would avoid talking about politics. Why? Because of the polarization in society and fear of further division even within families.

This year, 2020, is an election year in the United States. I still remember the reverberations of what happened in 2016. I also remember the wise words of retired Fuller Seminary President Rich Mouw who noted that pastors who decided to talk about the themes of the upcoming election just a few weeks before the election where going to get criticized for “politicizing” the pulpit.

We need to be able to talk together and preachers need to be able to identify the biblical themes that should guide our political talk and discernment. So here is what I propose. I suggest that we think through the Ten Commandments and how they relate to politics.

It was my former professor and recently retired Calvin Seminary Professor Cal Van Reken who said that you could preach through the Ten Commandments and focus on the personal application of the commandments and preach another time through on the application of the commandments for the social dimensions of life.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

- Exodus 20: 2-3

I propose that we walk through the Ten Commandments with the lens of having God’s Word frame what we see, hear and ultimately speak.

On this journey, we should note the power of language to form people and form community. In an age of tweets, we are called to be people of the Word.

1st Commandment – “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:2-3

There is only one God. In our language about politics, do we raise up our “champion” and place that “champion” on a pedestal that fails to see the humanity, the broken humanity, of any and all earthly leaders? Whether you are a person of the “left,” “right,” or “middle” we usually find a way to becoming myopic about what we see. We overlook the faults of the person we favor and we accentuate the faults of the person we do not favor.

What do you see? What do you hear? It will lead us to speak differently about politics and politicians – if we understand that there is only one God and no earthly political figure can usher in the new heaven and new earth. Only God can!

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