In this article I want to discuss the way we express our political opinions in conversation and through social media. Recently, the President of BIOLA University, Dr. Barry Corey, reminded the readers of the alumni magazine that in this political season it is easy to get carried away with our opinions and viewpoints, to the degree that we may do damage to our relationships and hurt our Christian testimony.
He reminded us that in Jesus you have a ‘love your enemies” attitude that is counterintuitive and counter-cultural as our society gets more and more coarse.
For the Born Again believer in Jesus Christ, the most important aspect of one’s identity is “Christian,” much more so than Republican or Democrat or any other label. Thus, everything that we do, including our commentary about the political process or situation, needs to have the effect of making Jesus look good.
Thus it seems to me that two virtues must be combined as we seek to have a voice (and an opinion) in the current political landscape.
We believers hold some shared and cherished beliefs that are centered on biblical truth. Our convictions are what bind us together as followers of Jesus. We do need to be vocal about what the Bible teaches and how the Word of God should guide our behavior and participation in society. Convictions and the courage to act on those convictions are good. Some of our political opinions may be guided by seeking to apply these biblical truths while other political leanings may simply be personal preferences based on our own ideas. Either way, we need to give consideration to how we express these ideas. That leads to the second point.
We must express our deeply held beliefs, as well as our political ideas, in a way that uses the “carrier wave” of graciousness, meekness and humility. We dare not make political parties nor candidates into issues that will divide us, thus severing fellowship or closing off our opportunity for sharing the Gospel.
I am concerned at times when I read some of the posts that are up on social media and see that often civility is lacking. 1 Peter 3:15 comes to mind…
1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. NIV
Gentleness and respect must permeate our conversation, be that face to face or online. Specifically, what does it mean in terms of social media?
- Do not publish, like or share any photo of a public figure with a caption that is obviously demeaning and not taken from the situation captured by the photo. This kind of coarse humor is inappropriate and defamatory.
- Do not publish remarks that question the faith, intellect or patriotism of those who differ from you politically. Remember, smart, patriotic and Christian people may well hold to political ideas that are different from your own. You can advocate for your own positions without demeaning others.
We live in a time of fear, rage and outrage. It is only the influence of Jesus Christ that is the answer to all of that. Yes, it is an era of crisis, but we have the answer to that crisis and it is not a political candidate nor party - it is the Lord of all. He is our hope, thus let’s make sure that we live out His message with gentleness and respect and pull away from the methods of crass or bullying conversation. In doing so, we will truly allow Jesus to look good.