Saturday, September 20, 2008

Political Style

Today I'm sharing some thoughts on Christian political action. These are convictions that have been forming over a period of time.

I believe it was four years ago, when President Bush was running for re-election, that an entertainer made a lewd pun out of the name “Bush.” I was appalled to think that the political style of some liberals had sunk that low—not just strong disagreement and mistrust but utterly demeaning the president in a personal way.

A few months ago, an email came to me that seemed at first to be one of those warm, cute ones. It was all about dogs—how intelligent and loyal and wonderful they are in every way. Then came the clincher. It was a picture of a dog lifting his leg to spray an Obama campaign sign.

I believe I know how this picture appeared to most strongly-conservative people—FUNNY! Not mean, or demeaning—just humorous. In response to that, I would like to throw out a scenario. Does anyone you know and care about continue to make poor choices that are ruining his/her life? In your frustration and anxiety for them, do you want to shake them? Sure. But, how would you react if you heard someone utterly trash-talking this loved one? How would you react if someone spit on this person? Or suggested ___’ing on this person? Would it seem funny? Is it funny to ridicule someone because of their ideas?

Increasingly, I am hearing “vote the Bible.” I say amen to that! The Bible states standards by which we should be evaluating issues and candidates. Additionally, though, I see that it also sets the style and tone for our political actions. Here are some examples:

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. . . . But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3:9, 15-17).

For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men (1 Pet. 2:15).

Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king (1 Pet. 2:17).

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:44-45a).

Behaving in a distinctively Christian fashion—that’s what makes us salt and light. We must speak up (and maybe often and loudly) but—in what spirit? Have we given up on whole blocks of people whom God loves and for whom Jesus died? Are we praying fervently for those who we believe are deceived—or just becoming more and more disgusted with them? If we loved more, and prayed more, and respected more, there wouldn’t be so many people whose beliefs are opposed to the gospel and whose practices weaken our society. If we were doing our part of sharing the gospel with our neighbors, this massive departure from God’s principles that we see in our society and in our political scene would not exist. Whatever stands we take (and may they be the Lord’s positions, not just ours), may we take them boldly but from a heart of humility and concern, from a heart that prays and cares for all men—even those with whom we disagree.

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