If one could somehow tally all of the minutes spent reading, writing, and talking about politics by all of the Christians throughout all of 2012, how would that compare with the same tally of all of the minutes spent reading, writing, and talking about Jesus by the same group of people over the same period of time? The parameters for the second half are worth noting. I am not merely referring to “Christian” activities, “Christian” books, or the like. These may be valuable, but they may also have nothing to do with Jesus whatsoever. I mean real time focused on a person named Jesus – His life, His identity, His work. I have no way of possibly answering this question, nor could anyone else. Actually, to be more precise, no one outside of the Trinity could answer. There will be a Day when the One who knows the hairs on the head of every person who has ever lived will render an account for everything that we have said or done in 2012. So let’s be very clear, God knows the real number for both categories. I believe that if the first sum is anywhere close to the second, it poses a very real crisis for the Church in America – one much greater than any threat stemming from our government.
It is very important to clarify that I am not attempting to evaluate the importance of politics or the extent to which Christians should seek to influence the political arena as it exists in our nation. My concern is simply to emphasize that God’s consuming plan and purpose for Jesus to have preeminence in all things (Col. 1:18) is not an abstract affair. On the personal level of “all things”, it means that Jesus is actually chief in our time, our thoughts, our strength, our food, our affections, our finances, our loyalty, our speech, our relationships, and everything that comprises our existence. This entails stewarding each of these areas of our life in a manner that is pleasing to Jesus and that indicates He is of supreme worth to us. This is so devastatingly radical and so utterly impossible apart from the miracle of regeneration, but it is the reason we were saved – to live for Him (2 Cor. 5:15).
The implication that follows is not complex. If concern for politics, regardless of its potential value, outweighs Jesus in the attention it is given and the emotion that it arouses in the lives of Christians then the degree of concern is deeply wrong. Whatever is tangibly captivating us is that which is being most magnified by our lives. Though presently politics is in view, other things could just as easily be compared in this way. Entertainment, recreation, social media, sports, fitness, and ministry activity are all things which may stand in competition with the supremacy of Christ in the life of a believer. If anything comes to be esteemed more highly than Jesus, it is an abomination in the sight of God (Lk. 16:15). This is not necessarily because it is inherently evil at all, but simply because it has come to hold a position in the concrete ways that love is expressed which the Jealous God reserves exclusively for Himself. To say Jesus is more important than anything else but turn and pour out the precious oil of our time and affection on something else is fundamentally inconsistent. Let us suppose, hypothetically, that I spent a mere five hours in all of 2012 in prayerful study of Jesus in the Bible, but five hours every week in 2012 reading articles on politics and voicing heated opinions on social media about my political views. I would still sincerely love Jesus, but clearly Jesus would not have been preeminent in this season of my life. I would have felt more, thought more, devoted more, and spoken more of politics than Jesus.
Can the supremacy of Jesus really be translated into such practical terms? What of the things that demand far more time than we could ever realistically give to a focused pursuit of the knowledge of Christ every day? Here we must distinguish between how Jesus can be glorified by our preoccupation versus our occupation. God has designed life in this age in such a way that for all but the smallest percentage of adults, the majority of our time and energy will be spent on work and family. This is good and right, for the Lord has ordained it. We glorify Jesus not by avoiding this but by being preoccupied with Him in the midst of it. Whether working with our hands, typing on a computer, changing a diaper, or making a meal, we can honor Jesus by ever directing the eyes of our heart to Him and serving others with joy and excellence. We are to do all things as “unto to the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23), and “do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). As important as this is, it should be very obvious that the question at hand does not relate to this noble aim.
In contrasting our preoccupation with our occupation, I am not referring to our career, but rather to what we choose to occupy ourselves with. Unless someone is a civil servant by vocation then attention to political matters falls within this discretionary portion of our life. The latter will be a different percentage of the day for each person, but for all of us it is defined by concrete choices we make. Imagine, for example, a single mother of three. After all the kids are asleep, the house straightened, and the lunches made she only has an hour before she has to go to bed so she can rise to do it all over again. Exhausted, she sits down beneath the light hanging over the kitchen table and opens to the gospel of Mark. Her commodity of “free time” and energy is so small, and yet her stunning decision to waste it at the feet of Jesus shows both what is most valuable to her and screams of how beautiful He is. In other words, the movements of our volition reveal what we actually treasure and adore.
In this treasuring and adoring we make a declaration to God and to men concerning what we consider precious and esteem as glorious. Regardless of our own unique circumstances, I believe it is biblical to say that God is zealous for a holy obsession to compel His people to aim this declaration toward the majesty of Jesus above everything else – including politics. I am praying that this year the second number would be bigger.