4 Ways to Keep Christian Unity in an Election Year

Dr. Kevin Peck | October 12, 2020 Culture Current Events, Politics, Sanctification

Can we maintain unity with other Christians during the election season if we aren’t on the same side of the political aisle?

The answer to this question must be, “Yes!” While presidential elections are important, this moment in history will merely be a footnote in the history of the church of Jesus Christ. Long after this election, after the next administration, after our grandchildren have watched the cycles of politics rage, the indivisible church of God will still be God’s Plan A to advance His glory. Moreover, love and unity among God’s people will still be a gleaming sign that we belong to King Jesus. 

The next few paragraphs offer a way forward—four disciplines of love and faith—to keep God’s family united through the intensity and tension of election season.

Embrace Your Heavenly Citizenship & Your Forever Family

“For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” (Ephesians 2:18-19 ESV) 

Do you know that an American Christian has more in common with an Afgani Christian than with any single unbelieving American? Further, you, believer, have more in common with a Christian across the political aisle than you have with your most ardent unbelieving political ally. These two things are eternal, unquestioned, unchanging, blood-bought realities. These are not simple platitudes.

Of all the marvelous realities secured for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus, a few shine stunningly in election season. Through our rebirth, we have been made citizens of a new kingdom and members of the royal household of God. In the new heaven, the only passport we will claim is the one which has been stamped with the seal of the eternal kingdom. In the new earth, His shed blood will anchor our position in the royal family and justify us as heaven’s forever citizens. 

Friends, we are not strangers, nor alien, to those across the aisle or those who we disagree with. Those who belong to Christ—regardless of the intellectual and political differences we may have—are our brothers and sisters, our eternal countrymen. Political alliance will pass away when the true King remakes the world. Our relationship with the body of Christ will remain forever.

During this election season, when you draw the lines in your heart between enemies and allies, when you speak of “us” and “them”, consider these glorious realities and make sure you are drawing these lines in the right places. Our closest allies are all those who have been purchased by the blood of Jesus, and our fiercest enemy is not flesh and blood.  

Recount the Cost of Unity

“And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’” (Revelation‬ ‭5:8-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

This scene of heaven is more sure than any political platform or partisan maneuvering. This Scripture makes a simple claim; the Lamb of God purchased with His blood people from every tribe, language, people, and nation. It states that His spilled blood was a payment for our unity and citizenship in the everlasting kingdom of God. 

Our unity had a tremendous, glorious price. Jesus bled and died that we might enjoy a new country, the heavenly kingdom, together with people as diverse and distinct as we can imagine. As humans, we teach our kids to treat carefully that which has incredible value. We treat MacBooks more carefully than napkins, jewelry more than toothpicks. How then, Christian, should we treat the unity purchased by the blood of our Savior in this election season?

What would we truly gain in this election season if our side won the election, improved our country, but in the process we damaged the body of Christ? Elections matter. Policies have tremendous consequences. Our country is a gift to be stewarded. But we must not be willing to destroy the eternally valuable for that which is of lesser value.

Pursue Peace with His People

“eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3 ESV)

It doesn’t take long on social media these days to find out what people are eager to see. The news cycle reveals the swarms of people who are eagerly pursuing a variety of political and legislative outcomes. All these things may be good and right. Yet, there is something within me that must challenge what we are most passionate about. I think, at times, we may place more faith in political outcomes than we do in God’s Word to bring flourishing to God’s world. It damages something in the church when the saints are more eager for political position than for preserving unity in the body. I’m not saying that our positions are unimportant. What I’m asking is whether we wake up with the same—or more—vigor to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  

I don’t ask this question to make less of the importance of election. I ask it to help us discover the relative importance of Christian unity that we possess. Let me pose the question this way: would you lose your relationship with your children over rhetoric? I hope not. We dare not let them walk out the door and say, “Yeah, but I was right.” I pray you would—even if you disagree on politics—fight for peace, chase with love, and embrace your precious ones. I would hope you would tame your rhetoric and eagerly pursue peace. The Scripture demands we think this way of our spiritual family.  

The sad reality is that many of us are willing to simply push position and rhetoric with shrugged shoulders as fellow believers are hurt, angered, or alienated. When the election cycle is over will it be said of you that you eagerly pursued unity or will you shrug off the loss of brothers and sisters and say, “Yeah, but …”? 

Practice Faith in His Power

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14 ESV)

“But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13 ESV)

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (Revelation 21:3-5 ESV)

This is our temporary home. It’s a home, but it is one that is broken and breaking. To be sure, we are to be salt and light here. We are to work for justice and for peace. The people of the Lord are called to be a preserving force on this world descending into chaos. And, still yet, this world is not our final home. This world is not a lasting city. The tension of our temporal status as sojourners on this earth cannot be resolved or ignored. There is a tension between our ministry in this current place and our faithful patience for our eternal home. Evil can sneak in when we relinquish this tension. We are not simply to passively wait out the return of the Lord and yet, we must not put our hope in this world either. 

Shoulder to shoulder, saints across the political spectrum see and wait for the city that is to come. We will have massive disagreement on how to stem the tide of chaos and sin in this world. Yet, we must have faith that only the Lord can fully make things right. No political agenda, cause, or movement will be fully righteous or fully capable of ushering in the glory of God. He alone will reestablish righteousness and peace when He returns. Settle into the tension, connect with Christians who disagree with you, and marvel at what God will bring when He comes in power.

Not only are we called to have faith in the Lord to make the world new, but God wants us to trust Him to make His people holy. God calls us to trust and love His people as an act of faith—faith in the saints to honor God and to be sanctified into His image.

The church in Corinth was deeply flawed. But Paul found reason to thank God for them because of, “… the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus …” (1 Corinthians 1:4 ESV). Beneath their failure, Paul—and God—sees the work of Christ to renew. As Paul wades into a conflict between a slave owner and a runaway slave, he demonstrates an unshakable trust in the Lord to work in His people. Paul says to Philemon, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints” (Philemon 4-5 ESV), Paul is trusting God to sanctify even Philemon. What faith! 

As we wade through the election season, I’m convinced that God wants us to see the Christians we disagree with as cause for thankfulness and hope. God’s power to raise Jesus and to save you is at work in each one of His people. If this is the case, then our faith in the Lord and our faith in the saints are mysteriously connected. Sure, saints will fail and saints will error, but praise be to God, Jesus always takes the long view of His beloved. Isn’t that good news for you, and me, too? 

Keeping Christian unity during this election season will require us to practice our faith in God by believing that God is working in His people. Believe the best version of the saints around you, even the ones across the aisle or on the other side of a Facebook post. He is powerful, He is faithful, and He is working righteousness in His people. He said He would—do you believe Him?

Culture Current Events, Politics, Sanctification

About Dr. Kevin Peck

Dr. Kevin Peck is the Lead Pastor and an elder at The Austin Stone. Kevin’s passion is to equip and mobilize Christ-exalting leaders in the home, church, city, and globe. He earned a Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Kevin and his wife, Leslie, live in Austin, Texas with their three daughters.

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