… the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me. (Matt. 4:8)
The idea of having power is so enticing that of all the theoretical options to destroy Christ, Satan chose the promise of ruling the world as his best and final temptation of Jesus in the desert. It was ultimately a futile attempt, but given the biblical narratives displaying humanity’s addictive desire for earthly kingdoms, their bloodlust for military victories, quests for political dominance, and insatiable greed for wealth, it’s unsurprising that it’s through these manifestations that Christianity is most vulnerable to ruin.
Christians use verses such as Romans 13:1 to rationalize their quest for political power: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
But these verses are never meant to supersede or contradict what Jesus has already established as the number one priority: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. (Matt. 22: 36-40).
To love God and love others is what really matters, but here’s what happens what we love political power more than people.
When Christians love political power more than people, division is created instead of unity. We refuse to see everyone as made in God’s image and divinely loved, and categorize them based upon their race, religion, and creed.
When Christians love political power more than people, rather than sacrificially helping and empowering others, we blame them for being security risks, “illegal,” and a drain on the economy.
When Christians love political power more than people, we value the laws of the world over the laws of God. Morality and spirituality become legislated and are voted into being. The good news of God’s love is substituted for enforcing our preferred brand of religion.
When Christians love political power more than people, the love of God gets substituted for “necessary evils.” The message of Christ is circumvented using logical and convincing arguments, but using carnal motivations instead of spiritual ones to make decisions — often completely devoid of God’s love, mercy, and grace.
When Christians love political power more than people, followers of Christ rationalize deporting people under the guise of “upholding the law,” denying refugees a safe haven under the rationalization of “national security,” taking away health care under the idea of “saving money,” banning foreigners under the lie of “protecting our country,” withdrawing aid from the poor because it “reduces financial waste,” making cuts to education under the platform of “budget reallocations,” killing our enemies because we’re “protecting ourselves,” and allowing misogynistic, sexist, racist, and xenophobic rhetoric to permeate a country all because it benefits a political party and “is ultimately for the greater good.”
When Christians love political power more than people, they obstruct justice instead of pursue it, and selfishly strive to achieve goals that will benefit themselves instead of others — contradicting Jesus in nearly every way.
When Christians love political power more than people, instead of exuding love, joy, peace, happiness, and self-control, they spew hate, fear, war, bigotry, and unrestraint.
When Christians love political power more than people, they pursue the goals of a political party rather than the goals of Jesus, and promote a partisan policy rather than the Kingdom of God.
When Christians love political power more than people, instead of God dying to save the entire world, nationalism and patriotism turn God into a state-sponsored deity used as an excuse to hate and fear those who are “un-American.”
When Christians love political power more than people, “Christianity” becomes a campaign strategy to gain more votes instead of a transformative faith that draws people closer to God and the rest of humanity.
When Christians love political power more than people, Christianity is replaced by Christendom, where the supernatural power of God is rejected for the worldly power of faith-based organizations, institutions, and politicians.
When Christians love political power more than people, they simply stop being Christ-like.
For American Christians — especially those privileged to hold political, economic, and social power — these are often hard truths to accept, but we must recognize the reality that the Christian faith can be hijacked and turned into something God never meant it to be. Far more important than whether we’re a Democrat or Republican is whether we’re actually following Jesus and loving everyone around us. Because What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Mark 8:36)