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.

Convictions when no one sees

ballot-boxI voted yesterday. And I was sorely tempted to go against my convictions.

I don’t vote in national elections. (I explain some of that in my “Voting” post)

But the race seems somewhat tight in Texas, and there’s one of the candidates that I really don’t want to see win. As I said in the post “Come Out From Among Them And Be Separate,” I don’t see a benefit in voting AGAINST a candidate. Your vote still counts as a FOR vote for the one you chose.

As I was going to vote, I couldn’t help but think that no one would know if I voted or who I voted for. I didn’t really have to go by the things that I say I believe.

Fortunately, conviction won out.

Conviction is a pesky thing.

Can Facebook posts change your mind?

facebookI posted on Facebook the other day, discouraging my friends from sharing their political posts. Someone asked me what the difference was between me sharing religious thoughts and others sharing political posts. In the discussion, I and others pointed out that Facebook discussions almost never sway people to leave their previously held views. I don’t try to convert people to Jesus via Facebook posts. I don’t expect people to switch from one party’s candidate to the other because of political posts on Facebook.

Fact is, people mainly read what they already agree with. Facebook’s algorithm’s encourage this; when you hit LIKE, they show you more posts that are similar to what you have endorsed.

But I’m willing to be corrected. There has to be some value in public discussion of issues, be they religious or political. What do you think? How can Facebook (and other social media) be used to persuade and change? Is it possible? Or are social networks only good for reinforcing previously held views?

Everything is politics; but it’s not

Oxford_Advanced_Learner's_Dictionary_of_Current_EnglishSometimes when I express a desire to avoid political discussion, people will chastise me by saying, “Everything is politics.” Basically the argument is that everything affecting the “polis,” the city, and its citizens is politics.

I get that and find it to be true at some level. But at its core, it’s a flawed argument. There is something called “politics” that is identifiable. When I choose the “Politics” tab on a news website, I don’t expect to see science news nor sports. I have a neighbor that teaches political science; that doesn’t mean that he teaches the science of everything. There is a specific realm of study within the social sciences that is political science.

The main definition that the Oxford dictionaries website offers is:

The activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.

That seems like a definition that we can use. I want to spend a bit of time discussing politics. If you’re unsure what I’m going to be discussing, check this definition.

Citizenship, ethnocentrism, and politics

Wooden ballot boxGot involved in another discussion about citizenship, this time centering around the Pledge of Allegiance. (I’ve written a number of articles about my views on saying the Pledge) That led me to think more about how citizenship and nationalism affect our politics.

At some level, citizenship is a given. Our modern world pretty much obliges us to be a citizen of some country. The spiritual truth is that we are citizens of heaven and foreigners in every nation of this world. Our difficult task is to reconcile the pragmatic realities with the spiritual ones.

Nationalism is feeling loyal and proud of your country. Ethnocentrism is the belief that your people are inherently better than all others. This may be tied to a race or a tribe or a nation. This belief leads us to judge all other countries in terms of our own. It often goes hand and hand with nationalism, though not necessarily so.

How do these things affect our politics? When making political decisions, people typically want what is best for their nation, even if this comes at the expense of other nations. If we as Christians recognize that our nation is the Kingdom of God, we will make one kind of decisions. If we view the United States as our nation, we will make different ones. That’s one reason that I think it’s vital we understand where we are from and where we are going (using the language of John 13:3).

As Christians, we seek the good of all people, not just those of the country we hold citizenship in. We pledge ourselves to actively work for the good of all nations, not just the United States. We place the good of all men above our personal good and above the good of the country we live in.

We should be fervently nationalistic about the Kingdom of God. We should give whole-hearted allegiance to that great nation. We should make it clear that our patriotism is for our true patria, not the place of our birth nor the land where we now live.

And our political decisions should reflect those realities.