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The Church Must Pay Attention to Global Populist Movements

The Church Must Pay Attention to Global Populist Movements

There’s a dangerous trend occurring across the world.

Between Brexit and the 2016 United States presidential election, global populist movements are giving lead to a sense of “hyper-spiritualized patriotism” that manifests itself in extremes. In the U.S., we can identify this in Christian Nationalism.

This entangled system of belief serves the self, denies others and applauds power over grace. It blends moralistic religion and partisan politics together, putting trust, allegiance and hope into the political process and figureheads instead of God.

At its most dangerous, it masquerades as pure doctrinal Christianity, thus reflecting poorly on true Biblical Christianity, and damaging the witness of the church by exchanging foundational Scriptural beliefs and true faith for a hope in worldly promises.

A False Hope

Large sections of the Christian church in America have put their hope in the false gods and idols of politics and politicians. The crux of Christianity is the cross, but too often the flag of our country is waved in front of the cross. Christian Nationalism, with its promised power, is embraced while Christian compassion and care are discarded as weak.

Politicians, laws, Supreme Court rulings, political parties, campaign promises, reforms and everything else related to people and politics are all just temporary noise. To put our trust and hope in a political figure, movement or idea is misguided and subtly idolatrous.

Jesus did not dwell on the politics of the world He lived in. He dismissed them. He did not come to effect political change and policy. He did not seek to establish an earthly kingdom based on systems of politics and human endeavors. People wanted Him to; but He didn’t. He wanted to change hearts, and save souls.

Christian Nationalism dismisses foundational moral Christian convictions and, instead, replaces them with political party affiliation and political gain. Whether these gains are well-intentioned is besides the point. The damage done by the hypocrisy of abandoning the core values of your faith in order to push through a political agenda or politician, far outweighs the possible rewards of any political or legislative action that individual may or may not accomplish. This false hope does not further the cause of Christianity.

A False Message

We, as Christians, are the representatives of Jesus Christ on earth. We are called to share the love of Christ with all. This message applies equally to all races, all genders, all political affiliations and all income levels. It bridges every gap. It heals every hurt and comforts every pain. How can we forget and disregard this so easily?

Christians should be shouting in the streets that this false gospel is not Christ’s. Christianity is not about “country first.” True Christianity is self-sacrificing. It says, I would rather suffer than ignore the needs of those around me and around the world. Christianity cannot only apply to your life when it serves political leanings.

Aligning with this movement may give a Christian Nationalists political office, but they lose their witness.

Embracing True Christianity

Christians are called to stand up for what is just and right, and reject what is wrong and harmful. We have the opportunity to truly stand for Christ, to embrace those around us and show them that our hope rests in Jesus, not in judicial policies and political propaganda.

I pray for our President-elect because I know God can use him for good. But the Church needs to stop finding its identity in politics and people. We need to trust in God. We need to invest our time and resources in growing relationships, not growing political standing and influence. We need to seek to influence the hearts of those around us, not the politics around them. We need Jesus to change us; we don’t need to change laws. We need to look at ourselves hard, and ask what we should be doing for others; not what can others do for us. How can we love God more? How can we love others more?

I pray that Christianity can present Jesus, and not judgment, now more than ever. It is time for the Christian Church in America to reject the fear-based tilt of Christian Nationalism, and return to the Word of God, found in the only real Gospel that is shown to us through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for all of us.

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