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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Evans

Troublesome Allegiances: Using Secular Politics to Define Christ’s Church

We’ve arrived in the year 2024; at the time of this writing, the United States is buzzing with Presidential primaries in preparation for the coming election. After the tumultuous time of discontent in 2020, both politically and economically (wrapped tightly under a global pandemic), a slight chill overtakes my heart, and a quiet dread slowly courses throughout my body for this coming election. My mind is preparing for the palpable division that will take place with force on my newsfeed and in daily conversation during the presidential debates in September. 

Social media has become the main outlet for people to express their grievances, anger, or outrage as well as thoughtful perspectives, kind interactions, or indifference to current events. As Christians, we must dutifully watch our hearts and speech to maintain holy conduct in our personal and virtual lives (1 Peter 2:12), even during such a time as this.

With that being said, during these past 4 years of taking a personal interest in political discussion, I have observed troublesome allegiances to this country’s political parties from the brotherhood to the point where a person’s partisanship weaves itself with their Christian faith, making the two almost one. Such observations behoove me to stir up reminders for us when it comes to being heavily engaged in secular politics–especially in attempting to conflate the church’s mission with partisan political activities.*  The true politics of the church is not found in American partisanship; it’s found in declaring Jesus as King and living out this declaration counter-culturally, regardless of who is in the White House. 

1. The gospel becomes distorted or usurped when we use secular politics to define Christ’s church or our beliefs. 

“The church is neither contemporary nor traditional, it’s scriptural” (1).

The church is neither liberal nor conservative, it’s biblical.

The church is neither Democrat nor Republican (nor Centrist, nor Libertarian), it’s Christian.

The church is neither left-wing nor right-wing, it’s counter-cultural.

The church of Christ is the kingdom of God amid a fallen nation. 

We should not be concerned with trusting in a president or government to make America a great nation–we should be concerned with being “God’s foretaste of His heavenly kingdom” in a nation that stands to fall as easily as empires and nations before it because people establish them. The US can fall and come to nothing, but Christ’s church endures forever (Matthew 16:18). Preston Sprinkle wrote,

The first-century church wasn’t an apolitical spiritual gathering where individual Christians left their Roman politics at the door and picked them back up on their way out. It certainly wasn’t a place where Christians mounted a Roman flag next to a Christian one. Rather, church was the foretaste of God’s kingdom, a colony of heaven on earth. It was a place, a family, a gathering where God’s plan for governing the world was being revealed and practiced, where participants submitted themselves to God’s rule in realms like economics, immigration, bodily autonomy, war, violence, power, justice, and sexuality (2).

As the church, we have a responsibility to live as the true political community God has in store in the new world to come (2 Peter 3:11-14). We don’t need to rely on who’s in the White House to promote God's design and intention for humanity; we have been commissioned by our King in Heaven to live holy, transformed lives. Secular politics shouldn’t infiltrate the church; rather, the gospel should permeate the nation and be shared with those we chance to meet. The gospel is what defines the church.

2. This country is not our home.

The word of God shows that God’s people are not fighting to keep space in a nation–they’re called to be exiles, strangers, sojourners, and pilgrims in their current dwelling. The apostle Paul also had to redirect the church in Philippi that their citizenship is in heaven–it was a blow to certain Philippians who held their Roman citizenship with pride (Philippians 3:20). 

3. We can’t subvert the world by conforming to the ways of American culture and politics and putting our hope in who’s in office just because they promote a policy we agree with. 

While there are certain issues that I may agree with on both sides of the political spectrum, neither will ever come close to saving and advocating for lives as the gospel does. Staunchly aligning with or giving unwavering allegiance to a particular party as a Christian is antithetical to the true Christian cause and instead conforms to American culture rather than God’s word. We are to live as God’s global kingdom in a counter-cultural, sermon-on-the-mount kind of way.

True subversion is the divine politics of the church that is counter-cultural to the secular—the one that shows forth “the manifold wisdom of God” to BOTH the rulers of the earth and the authorities “in heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10). Jesus’ gospel turns the world upside-down (Acts 17:6). The American flag and the banner of the Cross do not go hand-in-hand. At the revealing of Christ, every nation (including America) will be crushed, and His rulership and kingdom will be established forever (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 19:11-21). He will not come asking how much we’ve dedicated our time debating people for the Republican or Democrat cause. He will come dividing those who remained in darkness and those who lived as His new creation (Matthew 25:31-46).

The more that souls are won to Christ, the more we can actually lead peaceful and quiet lives for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children—it’s not by voting on the best policies (1 Timothy 2:1-6). If we’ve talked about, quarreled over, or debated why our preferred political party or President is better than the other rather than sitting down to share the gospel message of a new life in Christ with people, we’ve done a disservice to the cross.

How are we to live as the heavenly, counter-cultural kingdom of God amid a divided nation that boasts to be “the greatest”? A lot of the Christian conduct mapped out in the Bible is strange when set next to what our society would have us do when rallying for or against a political party. Here are some Spirit-led verses to live by as God’s holy nation and peculiar people (Deuteronomy 14:2; 1 Peter 2:9):

  • Jesus’ sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

  • Romans 12 lays out sacrificial living, living in peace with humanity, blessing during persecution, not seeking revenge when wronged, feeding our enemies, and other radical actions.

  • Not being quarrelsome people but seeking to correct in gentleness and showing kindness to all (2 Timothy 2:23-25).

  • Care for orphans, the poor, and widows (James 1:27, Galatians 2:10, Proverbs 14:21).

  • Have compassion and kindness for immigrants seeking a better life (Leviticus 19:34; Malachi 3:5).

  • Advocate for life not just for those in the womb, but for every individual from the womb to the tomb.

  • Care not only for our interests but also the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).

  • Caring for creation and the environment (Genesis 1:28).

  • Striving to live a live free from hypocrisy and self-righteousness [we must examine our conduct daily] (Matthew 23:13-15, 23, 25-28).

  • Our speech must be intentional, seasoned with the flavors of grace (Colossians 4:6; James 3:1-12).

I’ll leave off with this quote for us to seriously reflect on and to keep in mind:

Many Christian voters will lose their minds if their preferred candidate doesn’t get elected. And this concerns me. I fear that people whose emotions are running high this November might be investing too much hope in Babylon. But if we embrace our exilic identity, then no matter which Babylonian leader gets elected, Christ is still King, and His kingdom will continue to fill his creation by the power of love and sacrifice .  . . The most effective and faithful way to address evil and establish justice is through the church being the church, embodying the kind of [community and society] we hope to see in the world. . . Believing that the crucified and resurrected Lamb rules the universe should be radical enough to bind the church together as citizens of an upside-down kingdom that’s conquering the world through sacrificial love. (2)

May we ever strive to focus on declaring King Jesus as the ruler of the universe and truly be the church. Grace and peace be with you. Amen.

Notes and Works Cited

* partisan political activities: engaging in things like voting; displaying political material in yards, the back of cars, social media bios, etc; advocating for or opposing certain parties or candidates; encouraging people to vote against or for certain policies, etc.

(1) A late brother in Christ, Dwayne Southerland, stated this many years ago during Bible class. I wrote it down and never forgot it; it was the start of a mental shift for me when properly understanding the true meaning of the church of Christ in light of American politics. 

(2) Sprinkle, Preston. Exiles: the Church in the Shadow of Empire, p. 11

(3) Sprinkle, p. 181, 187

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Rebecca Reed
Rebecca Reed
Mar 21

Once again, BRAVO Elle!!

In my lifetime, I would love to experience (at least once) Proverbs 29:2. The people will see God's Kingdom/people at work. The unsaved really don't recognize/realize it these days 😔

Danielle Evans
Danielle Evans
Mar 26
Replying to

Thank you!! The unsaved can only recognize it if we as the church open our mouths to share the gospel and live transformed lives instead of arguing over politics, but that's my conviction.


Alex Smith
Alex Smith
Mar 21

WELL STATED and timely! Thanks for this proper reflection on what the mindset of God's people verses politics should be. This should be preached and taught more often as gentle reminders and sober meditation. We are children of God and aligned to His Kingdom and business thereof. Nothing else should intensely matter.

Danielle Evans
Danielle Evans
Mar 26
Replying to

Thank you so much, Alex! Yes, nothing else should intensely matter more than knowing our true mission in God's kingdom.

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