We are broken in the Lord when we treat others whose political opinions are different than ours with no: civility, respect, dignity, or kindness. How will these actions, attitudes and words of ours reflect onto the Lord? Will those we’ve treated poorly still be open to hearing about the love of God?
Now, where would we find folks with differing opinions these days? These situations are readily apparent in the arena of partisan politics. And you notice what’s NOT readily apparent in our politics as believers? Civility. Good ol’ Merriam Webster suggests the following synonyms for civility: graciousness, courtesy, politeness. Does that describe our conversations with those of different political persuasions? Or, do these antonyms accurately describe those conversations: surliness, impoliteness, rudeness?
I enjoy reading many a humorous comic strip with our politicians (from all parties) on the receiving end of some sarcastic snicker or witty gibe. Yet… it’s obvious to me that while those comics/memes/jokes provide laughs for one side, they oftentimes do nothing short of pushing others away on the opposite side; further away from not only that politician/party/cause, but further away from a friendship with me, and far more importantly, further away from wanting to hear about God.
So, if we follow Jesus, and He prioritized relationships, then it stands to reason that we should as well. Which is why we need to rethink our political “box” or compartment. First, we need to listen to ourselves when we talk with others. How do we sound? (Watch yourself in a mirror as you practice a controversial topic.) How is our message being received? Afterall, when we speak poorly to someone, oftentimes it reflects poorly on God.
And, thinking of all the arguing on social media, when has a disrespectful-righteous-attitude-approach changed someone’s mind about any topic? Yelling at each other on the world-wide-web has not peacefully negotiated any ceasefire-whether verbal or physical much less actual gun-fire. I would rather sit down over a pizza and share ideas & perspectives. We’ll have more positive outcomes when our “debate” starts from a true friendship foundation based on trust, compassion, concern, kindness, patience, self-control and love.
Scripture is rife with God’s instructions on how to treat others. Here’s a few of the many phrases we need to be practicing more consistently: be kind, be tenderhearted, forgive one another, love one another, outdo one another in showing honor, do not rejoice when your enemy falls, do not repay evil for evil, honor everyone, live peaceably with all, show no partiality, do nothing from rivalry or conceit, love your neighbor as yourself.
Perhaps my favorite scripture (when it comes to political conversations) is from Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” Notice is doesn’t stop at “consider how to stir up one another”? But it clarifies the stirring up with love and good works.
In a world that yearns for all-things-with-unlimited-access, I want God to have unlimited access in all areas of my life. Our goal is that there are no “boxes” in our lives that God is prohibited or barred from. And that includes the skeleton-closet-“box” of politics and how we treat others who believe differently.
“Lord, forgive us for the times we speak to or treat others poorly. Just because someone disagrees with our view, we do not have the right to speak unkindly. Give us Your wisdom to know when our circumstances call for a firm tone, stern presence, granting respect/honor, biting our tongue, or turning the other cheek. Thank you for role modeling for us how to treat others with patience, fairness, dignity, and kindness. May we bring back civility during difficult conversations and heated topics so that Your name is not muddied, but magnified.”