For the average person, the political season brings up a whole host of emotions, mostly negative. We view politics as a necessary evil imposed on our lives for a time, and then wave a sigh of relief when it’s over. This sentiment is understood. But what do we do with it?
Most of us despise the rhetoric, the slanderous accusations and the all-pervasive malicious mentality of even some of our closest friends and family. Friendships are won and lost by which side of the aisle we sit on. For this reason, we steer away from conversations that might require us to state our convictions. Be the peacemaker, don’t rock the boat, right? After all, in a little while, all this negativism will go away, and it will be back to business as usual without anyone finding out what is really on our minds and hearts. Phew—saved by our silence!
Or are we? When all is said and done, do we really gain anything, cowing to political correctness, by denying and burying what and who we are?
In Mark 8:36, Jesus speaks to the crowd. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Later in the passage, Jesus has some strong words for Christian men and women who live in silence before the world.
In her conference on being Set Apart, respected Christian speaker and Life Coach, Kathy Cordell, talks about living our lives in the tension of grace and truth in a culture that can often be hostile to Christians. But how do we live in that tension of grace and truth during a season when we are pulled apart, sometimes by polar opposite beliefs?
Perhaps the answer lies in understanding that what we believe about our world is not a political issue but a moral one. Jesus did not come to take political sides. He made that very clear. He came, because God so loved the world. The Jewish people of his day saw him as a political figure to save them from Rome, but Jesus said he came to save their souls. Because he would not accept the role they tried to force on him, one by one the people abandoned him to die on a cross.
In another way, we recognize that we have a lot in common with our non-believing friends. The Bible is very clear on this, too. We have all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). There is none righteous (Isaiah 64:6). In that we would judge our neighbors, we also condemn ourselves. All are guilty of sin. Therefore Jesus is not my political guru, he is the Savior of my soul. He came to die and rise again on the cross to save me from sin’s curse on my soul.
We also understand that we do not live in a perfect world, but we do live in a democracy where there are many competing perspectives about how to resolve complicated issues. Not everyone will agree with our point of view. But do not “repay evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people (1 Thes. 5:15).
Still, if we truly believe Jesus is the Savior of our souls, then what we believe about God’s saving grace in our lives should affect our conscience, and if our conscience, then also our convictions, and if our convictions, then also our political views. To say nothing is complicit with a belief system that does not share what we believe about the world and should convict us of being duplicitous about what we believe and who we are.
How then do Christians live in the tension of grace and truth during the political season? We recognize that God’s love covers a multitude of sins—all our sins. It’s not our place to be arrogant or boastful. We grapple with complicated issues in a reasoned manner, respecting our fellow citizens and also recognizing some things are beyond our scope to resolve easily. Yet we cannot stay silent on those things in which we have been convicted or we may find that we have exchanged the world for our souls. It’s not just a political issue, it’s an eternal one.