By Mark A. Taylor
Last fall a Facebook friend was protesting a political comment I posted. “I’ll be glad when this election is over!” she wrote, as if she thought disagreement about politicians would end after November.
But instead of retreating, the rancor has ramped up. Perhaps we should expect that from the voices talking over each other on CNN and Fox News. They, and their counterparts cluttering talk radio, keep their ratings by stirring controversy and pandering to the perspectives of their audiences.
This doesn’t mean that government is off limits for followers of Christ, that Christians should not work for reform in city hall or Congress, that pressing issues of injustice and discrimination dare be decided without considering the biblical worldview that is the only hope for redeeming systems polluted by sin.
Let Christians stand up for righteousness and use the ballot box, the courts, e-mail, and even social media to push powers toward truth.
But let’s quit bickering with each other. Let’s quit deriding those we disagree with. Instead, let us “speak the truth in love,” especially in public forums where non-Christians are listening.
Vitriol, sarcasm, insult, and bitterness are not fruits of the spirit or expressions of the salt and light that will redeem our degenerating culture. Political foes are not our personal enemies. “Liberal” spokespersons are people for whom Christ died. And few whose names are in the headlines are the personification of evil—or righteousness. Let’s talk about them with a grace that recognizes how far each of us has fallen from the standards of holiness God has set for everyone.
Thankfully, more than one Christian leader is challenging us to temper our speech. Last week both Dudley Rutherford and Drew Sherman quoted Ephesians 4:31: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”
“I am through letting people steal hope on my Facebook page,” Rutherford said, with a promise to block offenders so he would stop seeing their posts.
“Be sweet Christ followers,” Sherman encouraged.
But this is about much more than being “nice” or even setting a good example for a watching world. That world is in trouble, and our preoccupation with politics can distract us from our opportunities to serve and save.
Christ, not the right president or fair taxes or the best economic policies, is the hope of the world. Neither Jesus nor the apostles wasted their words or work trying to reform government. Yes, our democracy gives us opportunities they didn’t have. But our redemption calls us first to “make disciples, teaching them to obey” the life-saving commands of Christ. We can—we must—do that, regardless of how we feel about what’s happening in Washington.
Let’s focus. We have work to do, and very little of it will be accomplished via debates on Facebook.