Over the past few years, and even more so in recent months, I have watched as the political debate in this country has brought out the ugly side of most people, and I confess, at times, in me too. Everyone is convinced they are right and the other side is wrong.
Unfortunately, this fighting has also found a stronghold in our churches. Brothers and sisters so determined to be right, they have forgotten our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the devil (Eph. 6:12). We seem to have forgotten that those with a differing opinion from ours are image-bearers of Christ and deserve to be treated with civility, and beyond that, loved.
How do we love our neighbors? I do not pretend to have all the answers, but I do believe that as followers of Christ we should start by being peacemakers.
Please understand that I am not saying believers should not be involved in the fight to right wrongs and correct injustice, but are we trying to win a fight, or are we trying to bring peace? These are two very different things. So how do we become peacemakers?
First, we should be a praying people. How different would the world look, if we spent time on our faces before the Lord for those we see as the enemy? I find it very hard to throw stones at people when my hands are lifting them up to the Lord.
Pray for salvation for the lost; pray for freedom for those who are oppressed; pray for wisdom for those whom you believe are deceived; pray for wisdom on how to voice your opinion/belief in a way that glorifies God and brings honor to Him. Pray for wisdom. Just because we think we are right, doesn’t mean that we are. Pray about everything (Phil. 4:6).
Second, we should never ‘weaponize’ our faith. The Christian social media world has been filled, as of late, with polarizing voices claiming “you cannot love God, and believe (insert belief here)” or “you cannot be a follower of Christ and vote this or that way.” Not only is language like this wrong, but it is also a distraction. The enemy is using this to distract us from our task.
I have many brothers and sisters all over the political spectrum—some I agree with and others I do not. But we do agree on this key fact: Jesus is the hope of the world, not a political party. When we weaponize our faith, we tend to hurt fellow believers and push nonbelievers away from Christ instead of bringing them to Him.
Let’s use our platforms to champion truth, push light into dark places and glorify the Lord. If you disagree with a fellow believer, have a conversation, in person. I have found that hard conversations are better in person, in real-time, without a character count limit, and the masses chiming in.
Third, and honestly this one can be the hardest, we should be slow to speak (James 1:19). Are we so focused on winning the fight that we forget what it is costing us? If in our quest to win we hurt our brothers, damage our witness or cause the Gospel to be discredited is it worth it? Is winning worth losing a friend? A brother? I would say no, no it’s not. If we cannot speak with grace and from love, it may be best for us to just stay quiet. In the words of the famous “theologian” Thumper, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
As I said, there are times that we must speak up. Scripture tells us to put on the armor of God, so that we may withstand the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:11). Interesting fact, the only offensive part of the armor, is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Are we fighting our battles by being grounded in the Word of God, or do we let emotions and the need to be right/win get the best of us?
My prayer is that I become a person of peace. A person that speaks truth from a place of love, and a desire to glorify God, not a desire to win. A person known by my desire to be a peacemaker, a daughter of God for, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).