Keep Your Soul in Politics (Part 3)
I find it funny that nowadays we try to guess a person’s candidate based on the color of his shirt. (There are times I toy with the idea of wearing a different colored shirt every Sunday just to throw people off the track.) We have spirited discussion on politics even among us pastors. That’s why we should all the more heed what columnist Andrew Jackson wrote in his “How to Engage in Politics without Losing Your Soul” (Christian Research Journal, volume 31, number 4, 2008), “Don’t bring the polarization of partisan politics into the family of God. Every Christian has freedom of conscience before God, and we must guard against allowing political perspectives to divide the church”. Politics is not just a battle between good and evil. It is also a choice between good, better and best. So, if a fellow believer chooses a candidate different from ours, that doesn’t necessarily mean that that person has crossed over to the dark side. As long as a person gave careful thought to his choice, we need to respect his decision.
Unity is not uniformity. Thus, we can allow for diversity in this unity. That’s one of the reasons I don’t endorse a candidate. I may vigorously discuss the options and its pros and cons. But I will not impose my personal, political views on anyone. Ephesians 4:3 tell us that we must be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (ESV) The Good News Bible goes like this: “Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together.” We are already united. We just need to seriously protect our unity by respecting each one’s political preferences.
In addition to that, “Don’t engage in angry, hostile confrontation. Present your political convictions through civil debate and rational dialogue instead. Confrontational arguments demonstrate an ugly pride that demeans Jesus Christ” (Jackson). In our desire to win people over to our candidate, we may end up hurting them. Though it was meant for theological discussions, I think 2 Timothy 2:14 may apply also in political talks: “And with God as your witness, you must warn them not to argue about words. These arguments don’t help anyone. In fact, they ruin everyone who listens to them.” (GNB) Our exchange of ideas should be marked with grace. We must not burn bridges but rather build them. So, these coming national and local elections should keep us united as a church.
Brethren, what unites us are greater than what divides us.