Politics depends on one party’s conviction that they are right and their agenda being followed is in the best interest of all. The end justifying the means is a given in politics. Because politicians and their partisans are convinced that the future good depends on their vision being realized, they are too often willing to do and say “whatever it takes” to bring that vision to pass. Lying, cheating, spying – these are all necessary tools of the trade. The most frequently used and effective weapon though is slander. Slander aims to damage the reputation of one’s opponent. It aims to create suspicion concerning their character and motives and alienate them from any possible support. The more thoroughly one can demonize the other side the better. Politics is a bloodsport indeed.
The unethical behavior that characterizes a political operative should never be at work in a believer.
Paul is aware that the same spirit which so freely operates in the secular sphere can also find its way into the company of the saints. One of the works of the flesh that Paul mentions in Galatians 5 is strife. The Greek word is “eritheia” and according to Thayer’s lexicon speaks of an “electioneering or intriguing for office.” The unethical behavior that characterizes a political operative should never be at work in a believer. Yet, how often do believers, convinced that their cause is God’s cause, utilize whatever means or weapons they can to “slay” their opponent and ensure victory? Paul charges the church to have nothing to do with such a Christless spirit: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (Philippians 2:3,4)
Christ was a terrible politician. He never resorted to evil in the cause of good. He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” (1 Peter 2:22,23) If there was ever a figure or cause worthy of public acceptance it was His. But He died a seeming failure. His vision for the betterment of His nation and the whole world was unrealized when He took His final breath. Bearing the shameful tag of blasphemer and transgressor, He let His opponents have the last word. Yet, He died a victor, because His real victory was found in His unwillingness to become stained with sin.
He who will one day rule the world, upon whose shoulders the government will rest, has left us an example, that we should follow in His steps. For now, it would be better for us to “lose” and see our vision for a better world dashed than to “win” at the cost of losing our conscience. It would be better for us to be outmaneuvered, alienated, despised and ridiculed by those who see us as a threat than to employ earthly, sensual and devilish “wisdom” in order to stay ahead. “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” (James 3:16)
It does not matter where we stand today in any earthly poll. One day, God will reveal the real winners in heaven’s sight.