The Religion of Politics

bobbeauprez.jpgNo, I'm not dyslexic.  I didn't mean the politics of religion, although that is certainly a worthy topic.  No, I meant the Religion of Politics.

I should preface this discussion by confessing that I am a political junkie.  Politics is my hobby.  I greatly enjoy the political process.  I enjoy developing friendships with my elected officials.  I love the policy debate.

I should also state clearly that I have no intention or desire to pursue political office.  I am constantly asked this question by friends and lawmakers alike.  However, I treasure my calling as a minister of Gospel.  It is supremely fulfilling to me.  There is no greater job, in my opinion, than shepherding the flock of God.

I didn't really think about this topic before this past weekend.  For the first time, I was elected to be a delegate to the state convention for the Colorado Republican Party.  The caucus system is alive and well in our state and it was an honor to represent my precinct in voting for our state candidates for office.  My friend Bob Beauprez, currently serving his second term as a U.S. Representative, was overwhelmingly elected to be our gubernatorial candidate.  Exciting!  Bob gave a terrific speech.  I also had the great privilege of speaking with Bill Owens again (our current governor) as well as our Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, whom I recently met when she and her husband visited our church.  I was also able to finally meet my U.S. Senator Wayne Allard.

While the convention was exciting, despite delays in the balloting process, it was another aspect of the day that caught my attention.  This was the largest gathering of political activists I had ever attended and I was intrigued to observe this fact: to most of the people in the arena, politics is religion.  These people literally devote their lives to the cause of getting the Republican agenda to victory.  The similarities between this political event and organized religion were uncanny:

1. The event started late.

2. The speeches (sermons) were very focused on the issues expressed in the party platform (Bible).

3. The candidates (pastors) were revered and honored repeatedly for their position.  Loud cheering ("Amen!") often was the response to significant points preached from the pulpit.

4. The importance of giving was emphasized several times throughout the event.

5. America (God) was worshipped for its attributes, power, and historic accomplishments.

6. Each person had a role to play (spiritual gifts) whether that was as a delegate, an alternate, a campaign volunteer, security, vendor, or stagehand; and each fulfilled his role passionately and in concert with others.

7. Training events (discipleship) were held before the convention to prepare (equip) volunteers for their assignments (ministries).

8. The salvation motif was frequently employed with dire results if our candidates and values were not to be voted in at the ballot box.

The sad truth is this: most of these people believe that government IS the answer.  At one point, our party paid a fitting tribute to our outgoing governor, Bill Owens.  Standing only a few feet from the governor, I listened as he listed his accomplishments in his eight years as Colorado's chief executive.  Two of the items of which he was especially proud were his executive orders that (1) defined marriage as between a man and a woman and (2) banned partial-birth abortion.  Yet, our state has the same divorce rate as any other state in our country.  Homicides are almost a nightly occurrence.  The problem is: government is limited in that its legislation only affects behavior.  It does not touch the heart.

I left the convention with mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I was excited for my friend who may just become our next governor.  I plan to work hard this summer to help him achieve victory and hopefully come to know my Savior.  Yet, I was also challenged by the passion of the political activists.  They work tirelessly and give 100% in what they do, all for an institution that has little eternal significance.  On the other hand, the Christian church is all about changing hearts and yet it seems so difficult to motivate Christians to evangelize, so time-consuming to disciple, and so inconvenient to faithfully minister.  Why is there such a disconnect between political and spiritual people in this area?

I'm not sure I know exactly the right answer in every case, but I'm fairly certain that much of it has to do with our view of God.  I think for many Christians God seems far, far away.  We call on him when we need Him, but He is not a reality of our day-to-day lives.  How sad!  If he is not the motivation for our service, no wonder we are so apathetic.  After all, why devote your life to a Person with Whom you have little regular interaction.  We must call our brothers and sisters back to a life of devotion to God.  We need to teach them how to love God with heart, soul and mind.  We must champion the disciplines of prayer and meditation.  Our accountability must increase–no saints left behind!  We must acknowledge the dire results of Christian withdrawal from community and culture and…church.  We must rise from reluctance to fervency in our proclamation of the Gospel.  We must live sacrificially.  Christianity has no room for the spiritually idle–all are necessary, every member a minister.

We have so much more at stake, so many more people to reach, and so much greater a Cause.  "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."

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