The goal of politics

Jen Bradbury
May 01 · 5 min read

As I’ve scrolled Facebook in the days of the Pandemic, I’ve been increasingly struck by my desire to engage with people who share my beliefs and disengage from those who don’t.

I’m continually frustrated by one friend in particular and their ongoing and frequent political posts.

Each day, I debate whether or not to unfriend them.


This week, at our virtual high school youth ministry gathering, we wrestled with faith and politics. It was the culmination of our ethics series – a series designed not to get teens to think in a particular way but rather to help them integrate their beliefs into their life in a way that matters.

Throughout our discussion, I was so encouraged. Teens shared openly and honestly about their beliefs. The resulting conversation was rich and dynamic.

At one point, one of our seniors, Chris, reflected on an opening illustration I shared from Eugene Cho’s Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk. In it, I told a fictionalized account of being horrified at the results of a presidential election. I never stated which election; People assumed what they wanted to.

As we processed this, Chris shared his dismay that people would be so horrified by the results of an election that they would feel as though they’d lost; That they might even feel fear. He then went on to explain how politics is really just having a conversation.

He talked about the importance of honest conversations with people with whom you disagree (precisely why we engage teens in controversial topics like faith & politics). In his words, “I don’t come to JAM (our high school youth ministry) to change YOUR opinions. I come so you can change mine.”

Chris’ words left me speechless.

Such humility.

Such teachability.

Such grace.

In the days since our discussion, Chris’ words have continued reverberating in my head.

What would our world be like if more people believed that their goal wasn’t to change the opinions of others but rather to have their opinions change them?

In a time of crisis, when our country is insanely divided politically, how might such an understanding promote unity? How might such humility help us bridge the divide and enable us to truly come together?


I know this all sounds very “pie in the sky”.

Maybe it is.

And yet, this conversation with our high schoolers has stuck with me. 

In the days since it occurred, each time I've been tempted to unfriend my annoying Facebook friend who posts things that infuriate me, I've thought of Chris’ words. Rather than hover over the “unfollow” button, I’ve remembered my goal isn’t to change their mind; It’s for them to change mine. It’s for me to learn from them and at the very least, develop empathy towards them.

Because wouldn’t it be nice if someday soon we could expand our faith and politics discussion from teenagers to adults without fear that doing so would cause our relationships to end?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could disagree with people and yet still love them?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could work together with those with whom we disagree in order to love our neighbors well?

Because, friends, the goal of politics isn't to elect a particular party to office. 

It's to care for people... 

Maybe even the least of these.