“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 7:12 (NLT)
Growing up, I remember overhearing many discussions from the adults in my life about politics, especially during an election. Some conversations got heated, but most everyone was civil.
Today I see many exchanges about politics that are just downright mean. People are tearing each other apart online, severely damaging their relationships and witness to the world.
In his book, Christians and Politics Uneasy Partners, Philip Yancey writes, “I fear that our clumsy pronouncements, our name-calling, our hysteria about important issues—in short, our lack of grace—may, in the end, prove so damaging that society no longer looks to us for the guidance it needs.” (1)
As believers, how do we approach this season in a way that’s healthy and honoring to God? Here are five suggestions:
1. Listen to each other. James 1:19b says, “…You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Many people are so focused on preparing their response; they don’t take the time to really listen. James advises leading with your ears, not your mouth.
2. Look for common ground. In 1 Corinthians 9:22b, the Apostle Paul wrote, “…Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone…” Paul knew it was his responsibility to find common ground with people, not the other way around. Regardless of how different the views of others may be, look for what you agree on and build on it.
3. Let go of controlling tendencies. In Mark 10:17-27, a man walks away from Jesus after getting an answer he didn’t want. Notice Jesus didn’t chase after him. He let him go. When someone disagrees with you, don’t try to convince or control them. Realize everyone is entitled to their opinion.
4. Limit contact with negative people. In 1 Corinthians 5:33b, the Apostle Paul says, “…Bad company corrupts good character.” Some people may be toxic for you to be around right now. My wife unfollowed a few people on social media because their political rants were so negative. If you find things getting out of hand, set boundaries to protect yourself. Remember, God hasn’t called us to fight every battle.
5. Love, no matter what. Jesus said in John 13:35, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Love people even when people are unloving to you. Treat them like you wish they would treat you. That is the true mark of a disciple of Jesus.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.” (2)
Don’t let the politics in your life create conflict for your life.
1. How have you seen politics create conflict with others?
2. What’s one step you can take this week to minimize the potential conflict politics can create in your life?