Steady Christian Hope in Fluctuant Political Waves


“O you of little faith. . . . Why did you doubt?” Jesus’s words call a hysterical disciple back to steady hope in the most tumultuous of winds and waves. Christ had called him to engage. But when that engagement was more turbulent than he expected, he sank in doubt rather than rising in faith. 

I must confess, the midterm election cycle, together with its subsequent lame-duck national session, have swelled a vicious storm in my soul. Some results I celebrate. Others I lament. But it is upon the fluctuation of political waves that my soul most intensely unsettles today. Allow me to explain.

In the year of the long anticipated overturning of Roe v. Wade, many of the most politically and socially conservative states in the union failed to pass pro-life bills and, in some cases, even legislated less restrictive access to abortions (see https://www.baptistpress.com/resource-library/news/election-wrapup-congress-splits-pro-life-measures-fall-short/). Talk of national legislation to codify abortion “rights” into U.S. law is now more prevalent, with more momentum, than ever before. The same political wave that placed conservative judges in the Supreme Court, which eventually led to the high court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, affected an undertow at the ground level that seems to be drawing the issue back into the deep waters of uncertainty.

Some of the most politically conservative U.S. senators who were enthusiastically elected into office by Christians—Baptists, even—recently voted in support of a bill that aims to further ensconce same sex marriage into the fabric of our national legislation. The vote “signaled a remarkable shift in American politics and culture, demonstrating how same-sex marriage, once a divisive issue, has been so widely accepted that a law to protect the rights of same-sex couples across the country could gain decisive, bipartisan majorities in both the Senate and the House.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/16/us/politics/same-sex-marriage-bill-senate.html). 

Disagreement relative to a Christian position on economic policies, immigration reform, social services, and international engagement further divide our Southern Baptist family. One would think that those who strain forward toward the upward call, walking worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ, would live in the uninterrupted peace of God which surpasses understanding. I long for that space. But Scripture, history, and our own experiences confirms that Euodia and Syntyche’s division is only a public display of a persistent private anxiousness. Ours souls unsettle in fear when we take our eyes off the Christ of our heavenward call and fix them on the torrents of our present affairs.

“Ours souls unsettle in fear when we take our eyes off the Christ of our heavenward call and fix them on the torrents of our present affairs.”

We asked that Christ would call us onto the waters. He said, “Come,” and we engaged in simple faith. I think we expected the waves to cease when we stepped onto the water in faith. But Christ’s invitation was to tread on the waves, not to float on calm waters. I can almost hear the tone of my own voice in Peter’s words: “Lord, save me.” He is ever near to take hold. 

I genuinely believe that God desires our engagement in the political and governing processes of our land. We should pray that he channel the hearts of our leaders toward righteousness, knowing that there is divine blessedness in the nation whose God is the Lord. We should work for the good of the people in our diaspora. We should seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. 

We should vote and work at all times that the righteousness of heaven would be reflected in the laws of men. But we must be ever mindful of these fluctuant waves that compose the shifting terrain of our Christian politic. Our hope is not in a political party, a political candidate, or a political system. The governance of men could never comprehensively reflect the righteousness of heaven. And there is our citizenship—beyond the waves, beyond the horizon. Ours is an onward and upward call. A relentless pursuit of the personal and corporate perfection that will be ours to claim “when the Son of Man comes in his glory.” 

“Ours is an onward and upward call. A relentless pursuit of the personal and corporate perfection that will be ours to claim ‘when the Son of Man comes in his glory.’ 

On second thought, I think I’ll refocus my attention and my affection on Christ today. There, his peace will guard my mind and heart. I’ll count everything loss because of the surpassing value of knowing him. Some Christians may be found, today, in the undertow of political fluctuation. Others, slapping at the torrents of circumstantial irritation. But I choose to just find myself “in him”—a daily ascension.  

Will you join me there?

We can anchor our Christian politic in Psalm 33:12, Proverbs 21:1, Jeremiah 29:7, and Micah 6:8. But let’s anchor our Christian hope in Matthew 25:31, Acts 1:11, and Revelation 21:1.

Grace and Peace,
Tony

  One thought on “Steady Christian Hope in Fluctuant Political Waves

  1. George Bowles
    November 18, 2022 at 11:36 AM

    Thanks for the reminder Tony

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