“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”
“Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.”
As someone living in the state of Wisconsin, I am unable to watch more than 3 minutes of television before a series of political ads fill every moment of every commercial break, not that I am bitter or anything. Then I went to Facebook to see what is new in the lives of my friends and family, to be met with more of the same political propaganda. I guess that’s life just weeks before a presidential election.
As a Christian and a pastor I look at this all and wonder what to do. Some Christians are very vocal that you need to vote your faith, although typically that is code for vote for a specific party (based on who you are talking with). I hear that I need to stand up for what I believe in, to take a stance on issues, to get involved. I have an issue with all of this though. Politics is inherently divisive. Politics is me vs. you, my way or the highway, win at all costs, and paint the other side as evil at all times. As I think about how to engage politics as a Christian, I struggle with this: show me one instance where a political commercial, advertisement, or sound bite spoken by or reposted by a Christian on Facebook or twitter has ever brought glory to God, and reflected the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Scripture is very clear about the power, and importance of words. Our words carry weight, and we should use them wisely. We are called to build up one another with our words, and with our actions.
So I make a request. Please do not Facebook me the latest ad for your candidate. Please don’t send me the latest chain email blasting the other guy. Please don’t ask me to VOTE MY FAITH if you really mean, vote for my party, you know the one God likes more. And please don’t ask me to preach politics, and use my position of influence as a pastor to handle politics. Our calling is to preach the gospel, to be salt and light to the earth, and to model Christ in everything we do and say. To use our words to build up others, and to reflect God, not a politician, political party, or other earthly cause. In this election season, I challenge you to reflect deeply on how you engage politics. Think about how you talk about it to other people, are you modeling Christ to them? What if the person you are speaking with was not a Christian; would they want to know more about becoming a Christian based on how you are engaging politics? Are you using your words with care, as God commanded us, are you building others up, or building up your party?