Category Archives: Politics

Make this world great again

I’ll interrupt my series because something must be said about President Trump’s statements yesterday regarding immigrants from developing nations. Since the election of Donald Trump, I’ve committed myself to being guided by 1 Peter 2:17 and similar passages. I avoid criticizing the president himself because of this passage. I’m also aware that such statements tend to be seen as partisan, as if I were supporting another party or candidate.

But with all the uproar from yesterday’s vulgar remarks, I want to state a few things clearly, directing my remarks to Christians who live in the U.S.:

  • If the only thing about the president’s remarks that bothers you is the fact that he used a vulgarity, then something is very wrong.
  • If you’re willing to explain away the president’s remarks because you agree with his politics, something is very wrong.
  • The United States is not a church and should not be expected to act like one. But we Christians are the church, 24/7, and must never forget that.
  • If greatness for one country comes at the expense of other peoples, then we Christians cannot promote such greatness. We are Kingdom people first and members of some nation of this world second.

Much more could be said. Probably should be said. But it’s hard for me to say much more without violating the principles I wrote about in the first paragraph.

Pray for Africa. Pray for Haiti. Pray for all the nations of this world. May God make this world great again.

Toeing the party line

As I’ve watched friends on Facebook debate the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, I’ve been reminded of a study done by Lifeway Research a few years ago.

Here’s a quote from the report of the findings:

Pastors identifying as Democrats are the most likely to strongly agree (76 percent) in the validity of man-made global warming, followed by Independents (20 percent). Just 7 percent of Republican pastors strongly agree. Conversely, Republican pastors are the most likely to strongly disagree (49 percent), followed by Independents (35 percent) and Democrats (5 percent).

Our views on climate change probably reflect our political views in general. If we tend to support Republicans, we’re probably skeptical about climate change. If we tend to support Democrats, we probably think that humans have contributed to global warming.

Personally, I don’t think that’s healthy a bit.

One friend was asking for info on the subject. I started to say, “Find a Democrat that doesn’t believe in global warming and a Republican that does believe in it. They’ll be able to give you reasoned arguments for their beliefs.” But I was afraid I’d be sending them on an impossible quest.

Who (or what) am I going to trample?

I recently read what was presented as an African proverb:

When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled.

(I’ve also seen it as “it is the grass that suffers”; the idea is the same)

Like most proverbs, this can be applied a number of different ways. Where I’ve tried to take it to heart is to remember that so often when I go to battle, somebody (or something) suffers. There is collateral damage.

So I’m trying to do better at choosing my battles. Is this Facebook argument worth the cost? Am I willing to damage friendships, reduce ministry effectiveness, expend valuable time over that political argument or that doctrinal discussion? Is that change at church important enough to cause others to leave our congregation?

Sometimes, of course, the answer is yes. Many times, however, I have to admit that even if I “win” the argument, I won’t accomplish much of anything that is positive. And the grass gets trampled.

I may have to print that one out and keep it above my computer.

photo by dailyprinciples on Pixabay

Sharing with those who celebrate the election results

one-stepThese past few days I’ve been talking about how to deal with the people around us now that the election is past. The idea is to be able to help shift attention from politics to eternal matters. Our goal is to be used by God to help others move closer to an imitation of Jesus; I’m focusing my attention this week on non-believers, but many of the same principles are helpful in our conversations with believers.

I mentioned last week that before speaking we need to listen. That’s a pretty good general rule in life, but it’s especially true when discussing evangelism. We spend way too much time focused on what we’re going to say and not enough time being ready to hear what others are saying.

As we approach those who are jubilant about the election, we listen to see what the source of their joy is. Again, this isn’t the time for recrimination nor accusations; that may make you feel better, but it rarely does any good in the long run. Focus on the motives for their happiness, and you’ll often find an open door to talk about God.

Maybe their motivation was a return to traditional values. That invites us to get them to express what they see as traditional values and talk about the source of legitimate morality. Help them see that God is the authority, in every way. Outside of him, no standards have a solid base.

If the driving force for these voters was a desire to return to greatness, get them to define what greatness looks like. If it’s about strength and security, help them to see that only God can give lasting security. If it’s economic concerns, help them to balance temporary and eternal riches. In the end, we want them to see that only God can give greatness.

For many, abortion is the major issue in every election. Life comes from God, as does eternal life. Protection of life, from conception to grave (and beyond) is one of the major values of God’s kingdom; those who value life can come to value the giver of life.

None of these ideas are meant as snappy responses to conversation in an elevator. These are general directions for conversations that will be played out over days and weeks. What we learn from listening to others can shape the direction for future conversations, ones in which we will speak of God and his values.

Our goal for everyone is to move them closer to God. If we can keep that in mind, we will find that evangelism is not as scary as it often seems.

Conversations with those concerned about the election

one-stepIn light of what we talked about yesterday, let’s think about how you talk with someone who is upset about the election results. Again, I don’t think the proper approach is “Forget politics; just repent and be baptized!” We need more sensitivity and awareness of people.

Many people are scared. They’re disappointed and disillusioned. Now is not the time to criticize or ridicule. What we can do is look at their fears and show how God can allay them; we can talk about a God whose victory is assured; we can talk about our God who cares when we are hurting.

Others are concerned about the powerless among us, wary of abuses by the more powerful. This can be a time to speak of the God who champions the alien, the elderly, the poor, and the orphans.

Get the idea? Now isn’t the time to lecture them on the evils of abortion or talk about scandals in the party they voted for. Nor is it the time to give civics lessons about the voting process, telling them to suck it up and accept the loss. Now is the time to gently turn the conversation to godly things and godly values. Very soon we point to Jesus and talk about the need to follow him. More importantly, we do our best to live like Jesus and let our lives give power to our words.