I don’t think anyone would argue that politics have become more toxic over the last couple of decades. The divides between parties, the advent of 24-hour news, and social media have fed this beast. While our grandparents refused to talk about sex, politics, and money, it seems like that is all we talk about.
Christians are no exception to the rule. To think that we can avoid all conversation is impossible. Instead of avoiding any talk about politics, I want to lay out some principles from Scripture to guide those discussions. These will be commitments that I will attempt to live by in the election cycle. Will I be perfect in regards to them? No, only Jesus is perfect, but these will be my goals. I encourage you to take them with me.
When I originally started putting this list together I planned on writing down five ideas. Well, five ideas turned into a long list. Much of this resulted from watching others talk about politics either in person or social media. This will be a series of articles. If you take this commitment with me, you are agreeing to be lovingly confronted – in private – by another believer who sees you breaking God’s principles.
- QUICK TO HEAR: The first three commitments come from James 1:19, beginning with “quick to hear.” It’s kind of a funny phrase if you think about it. We know what it means to be quick to speak, but how do we hear quickly? This simply means listen before you speak. Most of us think that we have nothing more to learn. In speaking without listening, we often lose our right to be heard. People become frustrated because they are not being heard, but ironically, these same people do not listen to others. Also, none of us is ever done learning. Even if we are certain of our stance, there might be something, even if it is small, we did not know about a topic. If we want to change hearts and minds, we need to listen to others. When discussing politics, do you take time to listen.
- SLOW TO SPEAK: In order to be quick to hear, you must be slow to speak. First, I believe this means allowing others to speak before we speak. Often, if we listen, we will find out how the person differs from us. We can often waste time addressing things we assume about that person, which they do not believe at all, and miss being able to address their beliefs or concerns. I also believe that being slow to speak means taking time to explain things. Far too often we jump to an end result of what we are talking about, but we don’t take time to explain things to people. We wonder why they don’t agree with us, but we have not taken the time to teach them. We give out an end result, and then become angry if they disagree. Let me say, in this way, there are times that I end a conversation quickly online and pick up my phone and call people. For me to attempt to have what is probably at least an hour phone conversation on social media often does not work. If this is something that takes time to explain, I would suggest avoiding long conversations on social media.
- SLOW TO WRATH: When people disagree with your politics, does it inflame you? Do you find your patience growing thin, your blood pressure going up, your anger boiling as soon as you see someone else’s post, or they disagree with you? If so, I would say that you are violating Scripture when James says be “slow to wrath.” God has most likely brought you on a very long journey, and through His grace shown you things about truth and justice that He has not revealed, or that others have rejected. Maybe instead of anger, we could have compassion for people, knowing that Satan “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ” (II Corinthians 4:4). What would happen if we had patience, one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, with people when we spoke about politics, instead of jumping to anger? Does God get angry about things? He does! But He is slow to it. Are you willing to be patient with others as God has been patient with you? A suggestion would be when you find yourself getting angry, stop and pray for that person.
- PROCLAIM KING JESUS FOREMOST AND SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIM: If you claim to be a Christian, ask yourself, “Do I talk more about King Jesus or my favorite politician, political party, or political cause?” The things with which we spend the most time, money, and energy reveal our idols. For many Christians, they need to check themselves to make sure that their focus is on Christ, not politics. Here’s two practical ways to assess yourself. First, go through your Facebook feed, or other social media platforms, for the last week or month. Have you posted more about Jesus or politics? Or is it even a close tie? Our social media presence is a revealer of the heart. Like Luke says in 6:45, “Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” What you talk about most will reveal where you believe your hope lies. Is it your politics or King Jesus? Second, how much time do you spend engaging God’s Word vs watching, listening to, or reading news and politics? For some, if you track a week’s time you read, listen to forms of Scripture and platforms of politics, we would see a gross imbalance. Spend more time proclaiming and studying Jesus than you do politics.
- SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE: If we follow the Biblical principles of being “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath,” speaking the truth in love will probably fall into place. Many times I see Christians speaking truth, but doing so in a very unloving way. I want to affirm the truths they are talking about, but I can’t join in because they are doing so very unlovingly. To do this is sin. Ephesians 4:15 says we are to be “speaking the truth in love.” There is really no way around it. If you are speaking the truth, but not speaking it in love, you are not speaking the truth.
These are just the first of five commitments I plan to make as a Christian during the election cycle. I hope you will join me in making these commitments as well. Not because I have listed them, but because this is what God has called us to. Will you join me in following God’s principles for how you talk about politics?
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.