By Derwin L. Gray
You’ve seen the arguments unfold in the comment sections of politically-charged Facebook posts or in Twitter threads.
You’ve seen the pundits arguing on cable news television.
Politics is a taboo subject we’re told to avoid talking about—around the dinner table and the conference room table. It’s notorious for inciting division and arguments.
Discussing politics within the church is even more condemned. People get uncomfortable when politics is addressed from the pulpit—depending on which “side” they perceive the pastor is advocating.
In fact, when we were starting our church in 2010, I was warned by many not to speak of politics in my sermons.
While I agree that pastors and churches should be wary of backing political parties or candidates I have to pose a question: If what we’re preaching and teaching isn’t affecting real life issues, what are we doing?
We must be shepherding our churches and helping them to think about all of life—including politics—from a Christ-centered perspective.
Political Dissension is an Age-Old Cultural Problem
In the first century, second temple world of Jesus, there were many internal ethnic conflicts. The city of Antioch in Syria was divided into 18 different ethnic groups because nobody could get along.
In the midst of this division is where the church of Jesus came together, and they were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). Jews and Gentiles came together under the lordship of Jesus. The Church brought unity, not division.
The ancient world also had political unrest. Israel was God’s Promised Land, but Roman occupation led to Jewish oppression.
The Jews, in turn, looked down on the Gentiles for being unclean. Sexual immorality, exploitation of the poor, and the killing of innocents were also daily occurrences in this time.
It may seem like the political fighting we’re seeing in our day is new, but it’s a problem that has been around since ancient times. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Bible commands us in Matthew 5:43-45 to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. This is one of the characteristics of God’s family. Remember this the next time you engage on social media.
So, what must we do so that we don’t get sucked into the destruction, anger, and divisiveness of our culture?
1. Remember your identity.
The moment you said “yes” to Jesus you became part of His Church. As a result of being called out of darkness and into His light (I Peter 2:9), we must act as children of light.
Colossians 3:11 shows us how we are one family and Christ is in us. When we become redeemed, God brings the best of who we are to each other. We’re not color blind; we are color blessed.
Furthermore, our allegiance is not to the donkey or to the elephant. Our allegiance is the Lamb of God. That means we can be prophetic when the donkey or the elephant do things that are contrary to God’s Kingdom.
2. Remember to put on your spiritual clothes.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive” (Colossians 3:12-13).
We live in an angry world. Meet that anger with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness. Talk to people, not at people. Truly listen to people, not waiting to give a rebuttal.
Whenever possible, take the conversation off of social media and have coffee face-to-face.
3. Let peace—not cultural chaos—rule your hearts.
I try to fast once a week because it helps me with my prayer life. Consider taking a fast from social media and the 24/7 news cycle so you can spend focused time reading the Bible, praying, thanking God, and singing to Him.
We want the mind of Christ to form us.
“And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:15-17).
At times even Christians are acting downright ugly to each other and to non-Christians because of their political opinions. The ugliness we see on social media hurts the witness and credibility of Jesus.
When you engage with political topics, are you doing so with love and charity? Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The bottom line is this: Be the change that you want to see and remember that Jesus is the great change agent who lives In you.
DERWIN L. GRAY (DerwinLGray) is the founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. He is a former NFL safety and is the author of Limitless Life, The HD Leader, and a forthcoming title from B&H, The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches About Finding True Happiness.