MAKING DISCIPLES IN DIVIDED TIMES
This has been a polarized year, and the church is as embroiled in current politics as ever. As it should be—the church is the body of Christ, the people of God—and the individuals who make up that body should use their influence to promote peace, justice, and righteousness wherever they live.
Doing this means engaging with the messiness of opposing opinions and social conflicts. Unfortunately, it’s easy to become emotionally entangled in everything happening, and it's easy to lose sight of why you hold to certain values in the first place.
So as the election comes and goes, and the political divide deepens, remember that ultimately God’s people are answerable to God, and not to a party, or a system of government, or even a nation. Whether the charged disagreements fuel you or give you anxiety, God still governs, and His standards should govern your responses to the politics. Your loyalty should be to His word above any platform, policy, or personal interest. Your priority should be to win souls, not merely constituents, in obedience to the Great Commission. And in the middle of social divisions and conflicts, your voice should be reasonable and loving.
"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person" (Col. 4:6).
What does salt do? Well, salt is a preservative. It also makes what is plain more palatable, even delicious.
When you speak, make sure the words you’re adding preserve and enhance your relationships. Without the missing ingredients of love and grace, you might find your conversations turning rotten.
Obviously there are biblical standards to follow on certain current issues. God’s love is not uncertain or wishy washy on what is good and what is wrong, and as a follower of Jesus, you must always be ready to examine your preferences in light of scripture and submit them to transformation by the truth. But if you think championing God's standards requires you to abandon the spirit of love (of which Jesus himself was an example) that God has commanded His people to correct with (Eph. 4:15), then it's time to refresh yourself with the heart of the New Testament and Jesus’ own ministry.
“But Jesus flipped tables in the temple.”
Jesus drove away people who were disrespecting the house of God by making it a place of greedy commerce and cheating. He grew angry when God’s holiness was flouted in the temple, and when religious leaders tried to flaunt their legalistically obtained “righteousness.”
Aside from the fact that Jesus seemed far more offended by failure in the religious community to respect God than any outsiders’ sins, remember: You only have the right to stand before God clean because of the gift of Jesus’ blood. While Christians should judge the difference between right and wrong according to scripture, you should share the truth with the patience, grace, and gentleness you would hope others would show toward your own weakness, whichever one it is that you would rather others not see.
With the grace given to you, give back. If you are hurt, offended, challenged, or threatened, let that be what opens your eyes to have greater empathy for others who have suffered, even if their experiences, weaknesses, and sins are different from yours.
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (1 Cor. 13:1).
Christians, in a time of gongs and alarms, be love. Speak truth. And remember who’s in control.
How can you begin today?
Pray for clarity, wisdom, truth, love, and justice in our nation
Pray for God to fill you with His love for the people you encounter and disagree with, so that your conversations ultimately point people toward God
Study scripture to gain wisdom so that you can have insight regarding current issues