Remember who you are as you conduct yourself during this political season.
Even though this is about politics, I’m not going to tell you who to vote for or try to convince you that Jesus would be supporting a particular side. But I want to offer some thoughts about attitudes during election times.
Here’s an example of some things that trouble me. You see a post on social media from a friend whose reputation within the church is one that the apostle Paul himself would commend: church council member, Sunday school teacher, someone freely giving his or her time and talents to further God’s work on earth. And yet, this person shares a video that shows a politician in a less-than-flattering, possibly slanderous, light. Maybe the message of the video is true—it’s hard to tell these days. Maybe it’s only edited to be inflammatory. In either case the video demonstrates how awful the politician is and how we should “wake up” to the truth. The end justifies the means, right?
And then what about the reports about those in authority or seeking office actively working to do us harm? Those posts suggest that God-fearing, law-abiding Americans have been lied to on a massive scale. Are we doing God’s work by spreading this on social media?
There’s another way. God, through the apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, is abundantly clear on how we should act in these very situations. For a little refresher: the church in Corinth was troubled with internal divisive arguments. Factions were emerging. Sound familiar?
Christian love means we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
So let us use those Scripture verses as we reflect on our actions as Christians in politics: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).
- Christian love means we are skeptical of biased reports that condemn the “other” side, and we do not perpetuate malicious stories that our itching ears want to hear.
- Christian love means we are ready to believe the best about others while carefully evaluating everything. We remember the plank in our own eye while we notice the speck in another’s.
- Christian love means we are ready to respect others and make rational judgments while still loving those who think differently.
- Christian love means we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, and we do not use our First Amendment right as Americans as an excuse to defame others or spread hate. That’s hypocrisy and does not go unnoticed.
And so Christian friends, as Americans living in this election season, I urge you to fix your hearts and minds on the higher love of Christ and remember the words of Luther’s explanation of the Eighth Commandment: “We should fear and love God that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, or give him a bad name, but defend him, speak well of him, and take his words and actions in the kindest possible way.”
What a blessing it is to discuss politics freely in our country! But what good is it to gain earthly political power, only to tear down and alienate other members in the body of Christ who hold different opinions? Do we hold our rights as Americans so sacred that we have forgotten our citizenship is in heaven and we are disciples of Jesus?
Author: Bethany Siegel
Volume 107, Number 11
Issue: November 2020