Yes, that admission puts me on the “People That Are Strange” list for many of you, but I’m just being honest.
Yet, as much as I love the political plot twists and partisan banter, I also see what many of you see - Political discussion in our current culture is divisive. I call this election infection. Nothing can harm a relationship faster than a heated political disagreement. If you take serious the call of Jesus to be the salt and light of influence in our world when it comes to eternal matters then you’ll need to be careful with political conversation.
I do my best to keep the flames of my political opinions away from any bridge of influence I may have with someone. After all, when we die we all spend eternity somewhere, but that somewhere is not in a political party.
How do we keep politically involved yet maintain influence with others?
- Put people ahead of politics: A great resource for this is found in Matthew 22:37-40. When asked what is most important Jesus told us a love for God expressed in our love for our neighbor.
- Have a political opinion: Yes, Christians can and should have both political opinions and a political voice in the public square. Yet our political opinions must always be in service to our faith and not the other way around.
- Don’t be so arrogant: Be confident – of course, but the gospel reminds us that we are saved by what Jesus did and not by our brilliant opinions. A person who keeps in mind the price of their salvation can’t afford a posture of arrogance.
- Engage in political discussion where it is appropriate: Enough said here.
- Get some context: When someone has a view different from yours you are basically getting the last sentence in a very long story. Often when we go at someone’s political opinions what we’re doing that we don’t intend to do is attacking their story. I’ve found some questions that help me understand a person’s statements in context:
- What led you to that view? Here I’m asking them to take me on a journey. It’s hard for me to depersonalize someone when I know the journey that got them to their opinion.
- Have you always held that view? This helps me clarify moments that were important to the formation of their opinion.
- Have you ever met the candidate you’re going to vote for? The question sounds snarky and could be depending on your tone. The purpose is to turn down the temperature in the discussion. In a subtle way I’m reminding them they don’t have all the information just like I don’t have all the information about a candidate. Nearly 100% of the time they will say no. My response is always the same – “Oh,” and that’s all I say.
- Then, I usually say something like, “I get most of my information from the media, how about you?” This comment sounds silly (we all get our information from some kind of media), but it is another way to cool the temperature in the room. It gently reinforces the message that both of us are trying to make sense of incomplete information.
- 6. Never make a point at the expense of future influence: Why would you give up influence with someone over your opinion. In our country it’s your vote that counts, your opinion is secondary. How tragic it would be to burn a bridge of influence to the point that when the political conversation is over and they have a need or a question they can’t or won’t talk to you about it?
So, I want to lay down a challenge for all of us. Between now and November 8 I challenge us to put our faith before your politics. That means I call us to be a Jesus followers first and a Democrats/Republicans/Libertarians second.
After all - Republican, Democrat, left or right we are precious in his sight. Jesus loves all the little children of the world.
At Turning Point we take the command of Jesus seriously. If you come to our church we will love you as we love ourselves, whatever your politics. We use the way we treat others as a gauge for how much we love our God.