Part 2: Is Unity Possible in An Election Season?
If you missed Tuesday’s post, click here to read it first! I’ll answer the question we left off with – why would Jesus want Matthew and Simon in His inner circle, what was He trying to teach us? Jesus’ response in Matthew 10 speaks to the community that He created, the way people would set aside their ideology and their agenda when presented with the Gospel. It’s because they didn’t see their political ideology as the hope of the world. They saw Jesus as the hope of the world, and everything else was secondary to following Him.
Now the New Testament doesn’t document every moment of every day the disciples were together, so I don’t assume it was always peace and harmony. There are plenty of examples in scripture that show us just how human the men in Jesus’ circle were. That’s good news because if perfection is the standard then we can all just quit now. Walking in an authentic community together is messy and complicated, always requiring a measure of grace and a measure of forgiveness. But there’s nothing in the Gospel account that suggests that Matthew and Simon’s differing political beliefs were destructive to the unity or to the mission. And Jesus didn’t spend much time at all addressing the Roman issue, we get little more than a “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25) from Him. Instead, He focused His time and His teachings on things of eternal significance. Jesus wasn’t trying to build the best earthly government, He was bringing the Kingdom of God from up there to down here.
None of this is meant to suggest that politics don’t matter, or that you shouldn’t care about how we are governed. It is a gift and privilege that we get to choose our leaders and we should take that responsibility seriously. We should be intentional about being informed, we should ask questions, we should decide what issues are most important to us, we should prioritize exercising our right to vote and we should hold our elected leaders accountable.
My prayer is that followers of Christ would be able to do all those things and still be known by our love, just as Jesus instructed John 13. That our love would speak louder than our social media outrage. That we would be slow to discard people we disagree with because we’re reminded how slow the God of the universe is to discard us. That we would find more identity in Christ then we find in a political party.
What was true for Matthew the Tax Collector and Simon the Zealot is also true for us. If the fruits of the Spirit are present – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control – then two followers of Christ can have different political views and still be in community together.