28 Feb 2024

The Silent Division: Mixing Politics and Faith

By Michelle Macedo & Werner Solorzano


In the tapestry of a religious environment, unity and fellowship should be the guiding principles that weave individuals together. However, in recent times our church community has been experiencing a shift. An often-overlooked aspect lurks beneath the surface, causing subtle ruptures among people who should ideally find solace in their shared beliefs. It is not always doctrinal disputes that trigger discord; instead, subjects such as politics, diverse cultures, backgrounds, sports, and other personal preferences cause dissent within the community. Amidst this, one particular silent division has been growing, one that we’ve been reluctant to acknowledge.

Christianity, at its heart, is about following the teachings of Jesus Christ. He taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31), to show compassion (Matthew 9:36), and to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Our identity as Christians is anchored in these principles, not in the ideologies of any political party. When we allow political views to overshadow these core teachings, we stray from the path Christ set for us, and a silent division begins to take root in our church.

The infiltration of political rhetoric into our church has not been without consequence. We’ve witnessed divisions among us, with members feeling alienated or unwelcome. This discord, often unspoken, distracts us from our mission to be a community united, “striving together for the faith of the Gospel” (Philippians 1:27). We must recognize these rifts for what they are – barriers to the fellowship and unity to which we are called as followers of Jesus Christ.

One cannot deny the power of personal opinions in shaping individual identities, but when these opinions become divisive elements, it is crucial to reflect on the essence of unity and understanding. The Bible, as a guiding light for Christians, provides insights into the importance of maintaining harmony and peace within the community.

As a church, we are called to be a light in the world, transcending political affiliations. While it is important to engage with social issues, we must do so through the lens of our faith, not partisan politics. The church should be a sanctuary for all, where the teachings of Christ guide our actions and interactions, not the ideologies of the day.

In this regard, we can take a page from the book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), an organization that admirably adheres to the principle of non-controversy. This stance has allowed them to focus on their primary purpose (recovering from alcoholism) and maintain unity across diverse backgrounds and beliefs. The Church would greatly benefit from a similar approach; one that prioritizes sharing the good news of God’s coming Kingdom and Government, does not tolerate sin, and avoids letting worldly controversies divide us. By emulating this principle, our church can foster an environment that is inclusive and focused on our spiritual mission, rather than becoming mired in the divisiveness that so often accompanies political discourse.

Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) advises, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” This timeless wisdom encourages individuals to exercise self-control when faced with conflicting opinions. Minor subjects should not be the catalyst for animosity, but rather an opportunity for growth and mutual understanding. The silent division can be mitigated by choosing a gentle response over a harsh retort, fostering an environment where conversations can flourish rather than dissolve into arguments.

Furthermore, when seeking healing amongst ourselves, we must realign with our true purpose, a deliberate refocusing on Jesus’s teaching is essential. This can be achieved through conversations focused on seeking unity and understanding. By doing so, we will foster an environment where our differences are overshadowed by our shared faith in Christ.

In Philippians 2:2-3 (NIV), the Apostle Paul urges believers to be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” These verses underscore the significance of prioritizing unity over personal preferences. Differences in political affiliations and other diverse subjects should not overshadow the shared bond of faith. Embracing humility and valuing others above oneself can bridge the gap created by these seemingly trivial disparities.

The Bible is replete with examples of unity triumphing over division. In the early church, believers were known for their love and unity (Acts 2:44-47). This unity was not based on uniformity of thought on worldly matters, but on their shared faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings. When we emulate this, we not only overcome the silent division but also strengthen our church and bear true witness to the transformative power of the Gospel.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes a profound declaration that resonates deeply with our current situation. In John 18:36, Jesus states, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” This statement is a powerful reminder of the transcendent nature of Christ’s kingdom. It underscores that as followers of Christ, our primary allegiance is not to the transient political systems of this world. Our focus should be on living out the values of His kingdom – values that promote peace, love, and unity, rather than division and strife.

Amidst the silent division, the underlying question emerges: do opinions and the pursuit of being right matter more than unity? Is the act of passing judgment on others a more significant endeavor than prioritizing our faith and the sense of familial connection within our spiritual family?

Engaging in the political fray, especially when it leads to conflict and discord within our church, is contrary to the example set by Jesus. He calls us to a higher purpose, one that transcends worldly politics and is rooted in His eternal kingdom. As believers, we are encouraged to reflect this kingdom in our actions and interactions, being agents of peace and reconciliation in a world often torn by political animosities.

As God’s children, our family spreads throughout various corners of the world under the umbrella of shared faith. However, the infiltration of political discourse, particularly centered around American perspectives, can inadvertently alienate international brethren.

John 18:36 underscores the transient nature of worldly kingdoms and the political ideologies associated with them. As Christians, our primary allegiance should be to God’s kingdom, and our focus should be directed solely towards His will.

Moreover, the Apostle Paul, in Philippians 3:20 (NIV), articulates the transcendent nature of our citizenship: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” This verse serves as a poignant reminder that, as believers, our true identity lies in our heavenly citizenship. In a world saturated with divisive political rhetoric, Christians are called to be sojourners and ambassadors, navigating the complexities of earthly life while remaining steadfast in their allegiance to God’s eternal kingdom.

As we move forward, let us remember that our ultimate allegiance is to Jesus Christ. Political winds will shift, but the Word of God remains constant. While personal opinions on various subjects may vary, the overarching unity in faith should serve as a unifying force. By applying biblical principles of gentle responses, humility, valuing others, and active listening, Christians can navigate the intricate web of differences and strengthen the bonds that unite them in their shared journey of faith.