As November draws nearer and nearer, the political sentiments are growing increasingly more hostile. Many days I struggle to simply scroll through Facebook or Twitter without my flesh dragging me into some futile war over Michelle Obama's shopping fund or whether or not Paul Ryan wears too much blush. Seriously. I can say that it is only by divine intervention that I have avoided engaging in anything heated, but I would be lying if I didn't admit to silently stewing over some of the conversations I've witnessed.
I want to keep this short and sweet. (Right, like that ever happens) We have a way of separating the different facets of our lives. Many of us have a church self, a work self, a home self, a "hanging out with the girls/boys" self, and maybe even an "I'm alone and no one is watching" self. If you've ever watched Seinfeld this might make you think of George. Oh George, he has to be one of my absolute favorite characters. I'm reminded of the episode where Elaine befriends his girlfriend, and creates quite a predicament for Georgie, who then has to merge his to selves. Take a look and see what I mean...
So here we go. What happens when your political self encounters your Christian self? Do they come alongside one another and merge beautifully? That's the question I want to put on the table today. We are going to look at 5 things that often get put on the back burner during political season. This is not an exercise in blame-placing, but rather a challenge to each of us to examine our hearts and see how well we fare in this little test. So, here goes.
1. The throne is occupied.
God is sovereign. Certainly, he has enemies. We are fallen creatures living in a fallen world surrounded by...well, fallenness. The result is bad stuff happening all around us. But God is still on His throne. No enemy will thwart God's sovereign plan. So in praying for God's will for our country, keep in mind that it will be done, but (here's the kicker) that may not look like you expect it to. I doubt the Israelites expected God to use Ol' Nebuchadnezzar the way that he did. Likewise, we would be fools to think He wouldn't use Barack Obama or Mitt Romney the same way.
Genesis 18:14, Psalm 115:3 & 135:6, Isaiah 46:10, Jeremiah 32:27, Daniel 4:35, Matthew 19:26
2. Slander is slander, no matter who it's about.
This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Gossip is one of those sins that we're all so familiar with, so comfortable with, that is often gets swept under the rug, especially when the subject of our juicy tales is a celebrity or politician. I mean, thou shalt not gossip, but if the unfounded malarkey we're spreading is about the president it's not really gossip, it's just doing our civic duty and making sure the "facts" are known, right? Yeah, no, that's really not how it works. We are responsible for what we say. Further, we are responsible for every word that we speak, write, text, or tweet. When you share something on Facebook you are stamping your name on that something, which means you are accountable for its content. With Google constantly at our fingertips there is really no excuse for this. Do a little research, find out whether what you're spreading is relevant truth, or propaganda. And, just a tip, if it's on Facebook and it's followed by "'Like' if you agree", it's probably not true. Just a thought.
Proverbs 16:28, Philippians 4:8, Ephesians 4:29, Titus 3:2, 1 Timothy 5:13, James 3:5-7
3. No one likes a jerk.
Do you find yourself always going for the debate-bait that your opposite minded friends toss out? Do you get excited when prompted to engage in heated discussion about hot-button issues? Are you eager for opportunities to convince others that the world will spontaneously combust if their candidate gets elected rather than yours? Have your friends stopped inviting you to bi-partisan gatherings because you cannot have a conversation that doesn't lead to the White House? If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, you might be at risk for becoming a jerk. Political debates (often if not always) are futile. If you happen upon a person that can discuss their views without becoming defensive and obnoxious, treasure them. You don't get to take off your Christian hat and put on your Republican/Democrat hat just because you're in the company of someone with a differing viewpoint. You cannot set down your cross even in election season. So ask yourself this, what is the goal of engaging in this discussion? And if the answer is about making a point rather than making a difference, walk away. Seriously, stop being a jerk.
Proverbs 15:28, Colossians 4:6, 2 Timothy 2:25, 1 Peter 3:15
4. Faith, hope, and love abide.
Relax. Stop stressing. Unwad your panties. Unruffle your feathers. It is all going to be okay. At the end of the day, at the end of the political madness, God is still in control. Take a deep breath. And remind yourself that our peace is not contingent upon which man is in the White House. Take a deep breath. And remember that our hope does not rest in men. Take a deep breath. And know that the leader that really matters hears our voices, knows our situation, and loves us. Exhale. And believe, that he will not forsake us. That doesn't guarantee that he will make our path smooth and pleasant, but it guarantees that he will be with us every step of the way.
Psalm 46:10, Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 7:7 & 8:26, Hebrews 13:5, Philippians 4:6
5. The greatest of these is love.
Satan loves politics, this much I'm sure of. Think about it, that distraction technique that I'm always talking about, it can be implemented on so many levels in times like this. If your focus is on convincing others that yours is the right viewpoint, then your focus is not on sharing the love and peace and hope of Christ Jesus. If your focus is on removing someone from or keeping someone out of a certain position, then your focus is not on loving or praying for that someone. If your mind is fixated on politics, it is not fixed on Christ. Satan is going to swoop in and jump all over that opportunity.
Mark 12:30-31, John 13:35, Romans 12:14-18, 1 Corinthians 13:13, 1 John 4:9-12,
Friends, I urge you to look at your heart. What is motivating your voice and your vote? I see a lot of fear, a lot of tradition, a lot of pride, and yes, a lot of ignorance. These are not good motivations. By all means vote. Vote for the man you think will do the best job, vote for the issues you are so very passionate about. My concern is not for the "who", it is for the heart behind your decision. Do not let yourself get so caught up in the political whirlwind that you forget why we are here. Seize opportunities, not to make a point, but to make a real difference by shining a light into someone's life.
If your political self bumps into your Christian self, make sure they coincide. And if they don't, check yourself.
Have you experienced any of these struggles this political season? Do you find it hard to love those who have different political views than you? Share your thoughts!