The anger in the national air right now is as thick as London fog. People are digging into position as the political divide widens. Some have marched, others have looted, many take to social media to try to shut the “other side” up with their version of the facts.
As tempting as it may be, we Christ-followers must not take the bait of getting involved in every argument out there. We are to post a sentry on our mouths when the tendency is to talk over each other. Edification is our goal, not destruction.
Don’t confuse the mission of the church with political action committees that seek to divide and conquer. The early church was not naïve about politics; they were simply wiser in the things of God. For every thing that the world worships — power, noise, money, winning — the church represents the opposite. We worship the God of paradox. We are at our strongest when we are weak. We are at our richest when we give it all away. We die to ourselves so that we may live by the power of God (Romans 6:8-11). His mission is our mission – to set the oppressed free, care for the weakest among us, proclaim Good News to all.
Of course, I am not saying that Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics. I do not advocate keeping silent on every controversial issue. But let’s be clear: our witness isn’t to be clamorous, loud and divisive. Politics assumes winners and losers. It is about getting one’s way, even as advocates smugly assume that their way is the best way. The Christian’s greatest tool to convert others isn’t oratorical words or political strong-arming. It is our concerted effort to remember those whom society has forgotten, groups who are used as political pawns instead of seen as people made in the image of God.
Let us take our cue from our spiritual ancestors. The early centuries of the common era is when the church exploded more than any other time in Christian history. They took Jesus’ words to heart and carefully listened to the instruction of the apostles. They did not allow culture to dictate their calling; their calling made a difference in culture. Christians were known for returning persecution with blessing; saving children who were cruelly abandoned; caring for the desperately ill; freely sharing their resources with others. So remarkable was their witness that the Roman emperor Julian wrote, “Why do we not observe that it is their benevolence to strangers, their care for the graves of the dead, and the pretended holiness of their lives that have done most to increase unbelief of the pagan gods? For it is disgraceful that, when no Jew ever has to beg, and the impious Christians support not only their own poor but ours as well, all men see that our people lack aid from us.”
Let’s stop using the ways of the world to get our way. It’s not about our way. It never has been.