Monday, 24 August 2015

Casting light, not throwing stones

Like some others I know, I have a passion for politics and love to seek to influence to change lives and society for the better. I've tried to set down here a number of principles that may be helpful for Christians involved in politics:

1. Our preoccupation is Christ, not politics. The desire to change society for the better is good and honourable, and for some of us, politics is the route we use to bring that about. However, our preoccupation in doing this should to bring glory to Him. If 90% of what we post on social media is about politics, and rarely about Christ, where does our preoccupation lie?

2. In all we do and say, bring glory to Him. Remember that we are ambassadors of Christ in all we say and do. That does not necessarily mean working references to Christ in everything we say and write, but it does mean that the beliefs and attitudes we express in our words and actions should give people a glimpse of what Jesus is like. It is particularly important that we express that in how we act toward those who disagree with us politically. 

3. Avoid calling other parties or their members 'evil'. You may disagree with their policies, but you are a sinner now saved and made a saint by grace, in your background no better than those you are calling evil. Are you calling Christians in other parties evil? Are you implying that those who do not know Christ but are members of your party are in some way morally superior to non-Christians in other parties? If so, what is the standard of righteousness you are applying?

4. Make the focus of what you say to be about what you believe and why, not about rubbishing other parties. Spend four times longer explaining what you consider to be right than you do saying why you think the other side are wrong. Be quick to say when you think the other side are right.

5. Be sparing and wise about what articles you link to on social media. Sometimes you may come across an article that expresses what you want to say far more effectively than you feel you can, but if their analysis is right, but their attitude is wrong, don't share it. Remember that people will associate you, not the author, with the attitudes that are expressed there.

6. People in other parties are not your enemies-or, if you think they are, then biblically that should only lead you to love them and seek to bless them.

7. Have nothing to do with gossip or plots to undermine people.

8. Be quick to give honour to those in other parties. Most people in politics that I have come across have got involved because they genuinely want to make society better. They may vary in their ability, radicalism and the degree to which I agree with them, but most of them come from that motive. Wanting to make the lot of those who live around you better is  a worthy motive and people should be given honour and respect for wanting to do do.

9.  Be especially quick to give honour to those in leadership in society. Christians in the early church were told by the apostle Peter to honour the emperor-that same emperor who was persecuting Christians in a way that many of us have never experienced. Yes, Christians should express when they profoundly disagree with a decision, but they should do so thoughtfully and with wisdom-and they should be even quicker to praise when they agree with a decision, and most of all they should give honour to those in leadership simply because they are in leadership. Leaders have been placed in those roles by God and we should pray for them to make wise decisions.

10. Be bold. I am constantly surprised when I find out after 20 years that politician x is a Christian or that, when faced with a policy that most Christians would regard as wrong but their party supported, the most they did was abstain. The world is not changed by abstentions. Call to God for protection and wisdom so that, when faced with situations like those of Daniel and his friends, you are able to speak with wisdom to those in authority and say 'I cannot support this' and look to God to deliver you, and if it ends up costing you office in your party, or prestige, or friendship, still look to the God who loves you and has called you.

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