The devotional for March 23, 2016, began with this paragraph:
“I will really be glad when this political season is over!!! Politics is not my cup of tea, anyway; and this year it has been particularly bad. I suppose that it is because of social media, and the availability of all the immediate ways to communicate in our culture. But when you have two candidates, that it seems has followers that are driven purely by anger, coupled with the ability to put those angry thoughts into immediate circulation — it has become a nasty mess. On Facebook, I have seen friends have heated arguments , because of the individuals they support. At times, the name calling has gotten ridiculous, because of a disagreement about who to vote for. Sadly, even between people who call themselves Christians.”
We are three days past the election, and it doesn’t appear that we are anywhere near the “season” being over. It appears that the demonstrations about the results of the election will continue for a while — some are saying, at least until the inauguration ceremony. Some of the demonstrations have now been classified as riots, with violence, vandalism, and looting. There have been calls for assassinations on Twitter, and civil war in other places. Then there are the posts on Facebook — some that attempt to be innocent, have turned into “shouting” matches between friends. All of this, I will admit, that it frightens me. Because most of the historically great nations, have fallen because of the corruption and turmoil from the inside. I see this getting a lot worse, before it gets better.
What is a Christian to do, at times like these? Well, I am going to offer some suggestions, and that is all that they are. Believe me, I understand that I am an older, male, white, small-town, small-church preacher — that has lived a rather sheltered, middle class, Bible-belt existence. The only thing that qualifies me to attempt to do something like this, is the Bible that is on my desk (and some will not agree with the applications that I make from it). Secondly, I am not writing to everyone, only those that profess to call themselves Christians. So, here goes.
#1. Withdraw from all political discussions. Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers; …”. Right now, it seems as if all political discussions become angry arguments, and I don’t believe that we can be peacemakers when we involve ourselves in angry arguments. I am not saying this because of what I believe about the Christian, the kingdom, and government. I am saying this because of the situation at this present time. We need to be people that are promoting peace.
#2. We must focus on the two greatest commands. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39, “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Our allegiance is to God, first and foremost. Spend your time promoting a loving God, who wants to redeem everyone — not just Democrats, Republicans, or independents. I don’t have time to argue with you about that, but I would like to tell you a story about Jesus. When Jesus was asked who our neighbor was, he explained that it may be the one that in our mind, was the most different than us (and maybe we don’t like).
#3. Remember that our country is not, and never has been a Christian nation (like Israel in the Bible). It has always bothered me to walk into a church building, and see a cross on one side of the stage, and an American flag on the other. Don’t jump to the conclusion that I don’t love my country, because I do. But as Peter said: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” (I Peter 2:11). The apostle Paul said, “…our citizenship is in heaven. …” (Philippians 3:20). At this present time, as really in all other times, the Kingdom of God is of primary importance to us. We lives in a country where people have legal privileges, that give them the right to do things that we believe God does not endorse. We are not depending on government to legislate what we think is moral. If we want to change what is happening, we will have to do it one person at a time with the gospel.
#4. As Christians, living in this world, we are to be good citizens (Romans 13:1-7), obeying the governing authorities. Obviously, if there is a conflict between living for God, and obeying the laws of the government — we will obey God (Acts 5:29). There are those on either side of the current discussion, that will want to know how you can do that and be Christian. Just think about who the rulers were when Paul wrote, If they could be good citizens, living under the rule of the Romans — I can live in this country as a good citizen, regardless of who is the president.
#5. Control your emotions! Let your attitudes and actions make the gospel of Christ attractive (Titus 2:10). We always want to live in such a way that people will be drawn to Jesus. Don’t do anything that will make believing harder!
Remember these are just my suggestions. Suggestions that I believe are appropriate for the people of God at a time like this. They seem right to me. They may not to you. There have already been times, when I had to be quiet — because my speaking would not have done anyone any good. Let’s put Jesus front and center.