Just in case you have not noticed, election season is here. If you are like me, your friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family have begun choosing who they are voting for this November. And, if you are like me, many of those same people are wanting you to either vote for or vote against the same candidate as they.
To add to the confusion, many thoughtful Christians are providing you help in whom to choose or not to choose in the voting booth. Good men and women oppose each other in terms of the advice they share. Many Christian conservatives, such as Wayne Grudem, Al Mohler, Russell Moore, and several from the Gospel Coalition, have been vocal in both trying to defend who they are voting for and convince you to do the same.
Bottom line though, every Christian is responsible to make a personal, informed, thoughtful choice this November.
Until then, how are we to engage each other and our community about these matters? From my vantage point, there are many Christians who are more passionate about their choice and your choice in November than what they are passionate about following Christ consistently.
Let me offer some biblical and practical advice to all of us – regardless of your November choices, to hopefully give you a foundation from which to engage each other on social media, in personal conversations, and at community gatherings. I think Ephesians 4:1-6 provides us a good backdrop for my comments.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism;”
The primary command is to walk or live worthy of our position in Jesus Christ. As followers of Christ, God expects our attitudes and behaviors to be consistent with what God has done for us in salvation. For in the past by grace we have been saved through faith. As such, we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works, which God prepared for us to walk in them (Eph 2:8-10). So how do we walk or live in the good works of Christ in us? We do so day by day striving to live consistent with our new life in Christ (Eph 4:1).
Paul identifies five key attitudes which enable each one of us to walk worthy on a daily basis for Christ. In regard to politics this election season, each of these attitudes help us engage each other in a worthy manner of our position in Christ.
Engage Humbly. Humility is the opposite of pride and arrogance. Essentially it means to make the concerns of others more important than your own as exemplified in the life of Jesus (Phil 2:1-11). So as you engage others about their political opinions, choose to respect them and appreciate they care and desire to help. Humility does not mean that you have to agree with what is said; it does however demonstrate concern about the other person. Humility refrains from seeing the other person as stupid or insulting him because of his opinion.
Engage Gently. Gentleness as expressed here means to exercise self-control. This is a fruit of the Spirit and another characteristic of Jesus. As you determine how to respond to another person’s opinion, consider how to use your words with restraint and discipline. Be intentional in what is said or not said in an effort to produce amiable conversation. Especially on social media, you may wait for a period of time before responding to give yourself time to think through what to say and how to say it, or you choose not to comment at all.
Engage Patiently. Patience implies that you are long-tempered or slow to get angry. If you are passionate about the future, concerned for your children and grandchildren, and recognize the significance of this election, it is easy to get angry when engaging someone who has an opposing opinion. You may be scratching your head and wondering how someone can have that viewpoint. In these moments, patience compliments humility and gentleness.
Engage with Forbearance in Love. Essentially Paul challenges us to put up with each other in love. There are opinions, ideas, personality quirks, likes, dislikes, and other matters like voting preferences that you just do not appreciate about another person. You should expect not to agree with everyone else in your family or church, much less your workplace or community. In those instances, because of your love of Christ and each other, choose to overlook it. This is only possible though as you choose humility, gentleness, and patience.
Engage seeking to protect unity. The final exhortation is to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Essentially, God expects the unity of believers that Jesus provided through the cross to demonstrate Christ to a lost world (John 17:20-23). This does not mean that Christians cannot disagree with one another; however, Christians must disagree in a way that protects the unity we have in Christ through the Spirit. He demands to “make every effort.” This requires us to do our very best.