image by flickrhivemind.net
Isn't this a great season, as the upcoming national election kicks off, almost two years early? The politicking brings out our best and worst, some thoughtful comments intended to persuade the marking of ballots, along with verbal bombs with asinine and degrading and insulting comments about the "other" side. Can't help but love it, right?
Only if you're closed-minded or mean-spirited. Sadly, too many posts on social media, even by followers of Christ, seem like that, don't they? And right now, this is a family discussion, for those in the family of God. We have a great opportunity to shape and influence the direction of our nation, but how can we faithfully reflect the character of Jesus as we do it? Allow me to suggest three steps.
1. Speak the truth in love. Paul the apostle encouraged us to do that in Ephesians 4:15. To paraphrase the English statesman Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of idiocy is for thoughtful people to say nothing." We don't have to push, but we have an obligation to stand for morality, to hopefully persuade people that God's way is the best way. So, engage. Whether social media or conversations or writing, participate in the marketplace of ideas. In a democracy, we need to discuss the ideas and listen to all. If our values have a biblical foundation, we are not excluded by the Constitution.
2. Speak the truth graciously. Don't throw those verbal bombs or attack the character of those you disagree with. Grant people the right to disagree, respect them, and love them as you do. Or, treat them and their ideas as you would like to be treated, "The Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to everyone...Those who oppose him he must gently instruct" (2 Timothy 2:24-25). That convicts me. Deeply.
3. Don't speak. Sometimes, engaging can be a waste of time that only aggravates the issue. "Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you" (Proverbs 9:8). With some Facebook friends, I just ignore their comments. A few I've unfriended. Wise people listen to all sides, ponder, evaluate and pray to learn more of the truth. Fools just don't want to do that. A recent Facebook thread had an exceptionally rational discussion on politics, by all except one participant. I responded to his comments once, he repeated his idiocy, and the rest of us pretty much ignored him and continued. I appreciate that tone.
Politics often inflames us--the issues go to the core of what we most value. So, take a stand. But do it nicely. Remember, Jesus only got angry at hypocritical fellow followers of God. He treated unbelieving sinners with grace and love and a firm expression of the truth. Let's follow that.
Kick Starting the Application
What political issues touch you the deepest emotionally or thoughtfully? Why? Evaluate how you tend to respond to those who disagree with you on those issues. Are you consistent in that response? How well do your words fit those three biblical standards above? If you miss them frequently, what causes that? How can you remedy that?