Can Republicans and Democrats worship together in the same church?
Yes! We can!
Political divisions among the people of God are not new. 2 Samuel 1-4 recounts the difficult
journey of divided politics in early Israel. King Saul died in battle and David stood to succeed
him. But the followers of Saul remained loyal to his line and refused to support David. 2 Samuel 3:1 understates it, “There was a long war between
the house of Saul and the house of David...”
To his credit David did everything he could to
make peace with those loyal to Saul, in the end he was unable to control the murderous excesses of his own supporters even though he strongly condemned their violence, “So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been
the king's will to put to death Abner (Saul's general).” (2 Samuel 3:37) At the end of this
bloody rivalry David insisted on kindness to those not loyal to him, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” (2 Samuel 9:3) David protected and restored property to the descendants of Saul. This was the kindness of God to those who were politically different from David.
Democrats and Republicans can live together if they follow David in showing the kindness of God to those who are politically different.
The Bible warns us not to make partisan politics the focus of our hopes.
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in
whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
It is a grave error to place religious hopes for the world into a certain political leader or a
certain political movement. Politics is human and because it is human it will inevitably disappoint. Leaders that seem so potent and compelling in one election—be they red or blue—can be completely erased by the next. While believers can and should support candidates for office we ought to guard our hearts against making false messiahs out of them and false devils out of the opposing candidate. For us there is only one Messiah who is Jesus our Lord.
In most political matters one notes that there are few differences about objectives. For
example: everyone wants safety in our schools.
There isn't any daylight between us on such an objective. The differences are seen in the various strategies proposed to achieve our objective. Honest people can disagree on strategy. Disagreement doesn't mean the opposition is deficient in faith or moral character.
It's only a matter of time before our politics gets the better of our tongues and we offend one another. What to do? Jesus was not keen on giving insults and slander (Matthew 5:22) Yet at the same time he demonstrated how to receive insults and taught how to bear insults without returning in kind (Romans 12:19-21). Paul was egregiously slandered by those seeking to undermine him in the church for their own political reasons. Paul did not give up on his
fellow church members but regarded their bad behavior as an opportunity to show his strength:
he said to me,“My grace is sufficient for you, for
my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore
I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For
the sake of Christ, then, I am content with
weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and
calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9-11).
Bickering is a fool's game because even if you best your opponent you succeed only in alienating him. Give up bickering and don't participate in it. It's toxic. It's pointless. It's destructive.
The healing of relationships always begins with conversation; an honest confession of hurt; open ears to listen with compassion; a humble admission of responsibility; relinquishing the obsessive need to be right; and mutual resolve to keep Christ at the center of our relationships.
Connect, Grow, Serve,
Pastor Tom Anderson