What a mess. If we’re not yet at the low point in public discourse, civility, and decency, we dread seeing what’s coming next. While we wait for things related to the national election to hopefully come to a righteous and peaceful end, here are three things for my Christian brothers and sisters to consider:
1. The Bible makes clear time and again that speaking without knowledge is foolish.
“Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2)
It looks clear at this point that no matter what declarations are made in the next few hours and days, there is going to be a process of answering some pressing questions and dealing with some strong allegations. There could be recounts, lawsuits, and appeals to high courts. It is unwise to speak hastily and aggressively in this moment, especially if our information comes mostly from TV and radio pundits, mainstream or online media, highly partisan sources, or social media.
I am hopeful, like I’m sure you are, that the American system we have built and believe in will prove to be trustworthy. If appeals are to be made to higher judiciary bodies, I am hopeful all evidence will be considered, and the right actions will be taken. The reality is, most of us have no say in that. As registered voters, we’ve had our say as have millions of others all across our country. Our best response now is to pray for truth and peace, and wisdom for our leaders. As we pray and consider whether or not to speak, it is imperative that we display faithful and honorable speech and conduct in every circumstance.
“Fools give full vent to their rage,
but the wise bring calm in the end.” (Proverbs 29:11)
2. Blind allegiance to any person, group, or party, is idolatry. Plain and simple. The Bible condemns idolatry more frequently than any other sin.
Consider this: there were many prominent and respected groups in the 1st Century in which Jesus could’ve chosen to become a member. But he did not. He was not a Messiah only for the Pharisees or Sadducees or Herodians or Essenes. Nor is he only a Messiah for Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, or Green Party members.
No, He is lord of all. He is our king. His kingdom is the one to which we pledge our full allegiance above any other. Nearly every American has a preference when it comes to political party, but partisanship itself has not been and is not good for our country in the long-haul. Why? Because to be fully ingrained in any cultural system like a political party means to compromise somewhere. Each one of our two political parties have their idols. We might believe that one party or another stands for a higher level of morality or has a greater sense of justice, but in the end they are easily corrupted by the same idols that have plague mankind since the beginning of time – envy, greed, sex, and a lust for power.
The last words of 1 John: “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21)
3. More young people have walked away from the church in the last decade than ever before, and the politicization of things has played a major factor.
While many evangelical Christians have been focused on elections, we’ve lost most of a generation. I’m thinking specifically of the millennials, the largest generation our country has ever seen. So many of them have left the Church, and it’s not because they don’t care or are too busy or are too lazy or are wallowing in sin. Many of them are still very much committed to Christ and to their faith, but they find more authentic community outside of evangelical circles and feel far less politicized in those places.
If I’ve had this conversation with one young adult, I’ve had it with one hundred. They no longer feel safe or at home in their parents’ churches because they believe politics are more important in those churches than actual Christian faith. Whether or not we believe that to be accurate, for many young people that perception is their reality. We are going to have to take a hard look at the future far beyond what it’s happening right now and pray that we can once again make the millennials a priority. We must find ways to have simple conversations with them about even the most difficult topics and show them that Christ comes first in our lives. For that to happen, it must be true!
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)