“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” -Jesus, Luke 12:51
In 2016, what feels like a lifetime ago by now, I was listening to the news on the radio. I had been struck by the comments by Reince Priebus, then chairman of the GOP.
Mr. Priebus had just lamented over, once again, Donald Trump. The complaint was that Trump brings division to the GOP and that is the main problem of the Republican Party. He also said that Trump could, in fact, be responsible for the division of the entire country.
Certainly the GOP has some deep seated issues. Yet Donald Trump, as polarizing as he is, is not the biggest Republican, American, or world problem. Not in 2016, not in 2021. Not by a long shot.
At the risk of sounding blunt, it does not matter how you feel about any political party or candidate, including Donald Trump. There is a knife dividing the United States and has been for generations. There is absolutely nothing political that will unite a nation or save any people.
Nations rise and nations fall. Leaders are given power and it is taken away. It’s written throughout the history of every civilization. Turn your Bible to the books of the Kings and the Chronicles. You’ll find out how and why nations and leaders come and go.
Spoiler alert: they forget their God and they turn, in their pride, to godless pagan practices and worship, among many worthless things, themselves. Over and again God has been replaced with what he calls abominations. Selfishness overpowers what is right and replaces caring for one another.
How long do you think God should give a pass to any nation that calls what is right intolerable and celebrates what God calls wrong?
What Would Jesus Do?
This time in history reminds me of past civilizations, at least in certain but very pivotal ways. It’s got me thinking about a popular question that maybe you’ve heard a million times: what would Jesus do?
How would Jesus respond to the current political and social climate of extreme division we see across our land today?
What would he do to resolve the differences among us? Would he bring this unity we hear being discussed across all social and political platforms?
Would he unite us?
Not Unity, but Division
During his ministry on earth, nearly everyone who had flocked to Jesus believed that when he spoke of freedom, unity and power that he intended to free Israel from the rule of the Roman Empire. The assumption was that he would unite and restore Israel, nationally and politically.
Even some of his own disciples argued over who among them is greatest (Luke 22:24). James and John lobbied for position in what they assumed would be his immediate, earthly reign over their country (Mark 10:37).
Not all that different from our own political system. You hear tons about unity and equality from the podium of every political position. At the same time, policies and backroom deals are struck that produce the exact opposite of what’s being presented to the public. The goal being consolidation of power, authority and position. After all, that’s how you win re-elections.
Understanding the hearts of his followers, and their own lack of understanding of the deeper things that he taught, Jesus boldly proclaimed division, not national unity. That happened in Luke 12:51:
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.Luke 12:49-53
Jesus would not be concerned with the political division in our nation today. No, but rather with the hearts and the attitudes behind that division which brings separation. Not national or political separation, but most importantly we being separated from himself and from the truth of God.
Remember that Jesus offered no political solutions to the Roman problems during his time of Earthly ministry.
Charged, Angry and Divided
When I was in my 20’s, I was quite politically charged. Election years were my time to shine. Some guys lived for the Superbowl, I lived for election years.
Those were the times when I was so excited that this candidate, or that platform, or some certain issue would certainly save America and put us back on a “Constitutional” track.
Admittedly, I’m (more than) twice older now and hopefully just a little bit more wise, but wow, how things have changed.
Not only did those political years in my life create anger and division in my heart, but I was constantly left empty, feeling let down by the constant battle, and even more so by the people within the political process.
Especially the “good guys” that I believed were on “my side.”
Elections Do Not Save Nations
Then I began to hope in something much larger than election years and candidates promising to “save America” from it’s certain death.
And sometimes nations are even saved and restored, but only by the power of God.
It’s not wrong to desire change for this country. It’s not wrong to vote for the person you feel is best for our country. However I believe we are putting too much hope in social change and not enough hope in Jesus.
That is exactly where I had begun to find myself in the political process of the election years.
Eventually, I began to despise the American system of party politics, especially the division it brought to all sides. My distaste for politics increased to a point that I simply cannot stand much of it any longer, beyond my own personal responsibility to cast my votes in the process.
And, as I grew in my new found faith, I began to realize the futility of my formerly precious election years. At least so far as I believed that process could ever save anything.
It’s true that elections and candidates do not save nations. And I wrote about that more in depth, too.
Taking a Stand, Making a Difference
Those “politically charged” years of mine were not entirely bad. Those years were an expression of my desire to make a difference in the world. Admittedly, I was motivated more so by pride then as my goal was to make certain the world knew I was here after I had left it.
I still want to make the world around me a better place, but the difference is I want to be the difference. Now, I don’t care if the world remembers my name, only that someone somewhere knows what God can do through one broken guy.
So let me ask you. . .
Do you want to make a difference? Have you ever thought you could make your mark?
Have you thought that you just might have a chance to leave the world a better place than you found it?
Do you want to make history?
If you’re answer to any of these is yes, then the ball is in your court.
Changed Hearts Could Change Nations
What’s required is that you experience a renewing change that enables you to take a stand. Change that starts with you deep within your own personal life. The kind of change that transforms who you are when no one is watching, and what thoughts you keep when no one can hear them.
It’s a change of heart, a heart that is fully surrendered to Christ Jesus, and that is what can change a nation. Maybe even change the world.
And when your heart is transformed, then you can impact the world immediately around you. One changed heart at a time.
This is what no political party or power, what no candidate and what no grassroots social organization will accomplish. Not ever.
And the irony of this is the simplicity of it all. It takes following two simple, but not easy commands of Christ: love God with all of your heart mind and soul, and love one another. Even when they vote for the other guy.
Can I share a word of warning?
I’m not going to tell you that even if an entire country turns to Jesus and repents that God will for certain save a nation. He will save and preserve a people though. Although he does ordain certain nations and people for certain things and times, God is much less concerned about nationalism than he is about repentant hearts.
It’s the broken, repentant heart reconciled to God through the blood of his son, Jesus Christ, that has eternal consequences.
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Editors note: this post was originally published on April 16, 2016 and has been completely revamped and refreshed, updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.