We are in a new day of hatred and demeaning language. I’m sure you see it. One US senator said that he had just come off a seven month fast from social media and realized that he had forgotten that people were supposed to hate each other.
Believers must do better. I have often been shocked by spiritual leaders, along with otherwise faithful Christians, spending so much of their public speech in vitriolic, accusative language about political issues, at the expense of their spiritual capital. When public speech in general is in a precarious place, it isn’t helpful for true believers to speak in kind. Our speech should be on a much higher plane. Here are the reasons why:
- Believers live in a different reality. We see things first of all with eyes that have been transformed by Christ. For one thing we have a much broader perspective. As we read the Scriptures, we see the span of history in the hand of God. We also see an amazing future regardless of the turmoil du jour.
- Believers have a different power to affect change. We have access to God, the ruler of the universe. We can pray.
- Believers can speak prophetically. I’m using the word “prophetic” in a general way to indicate that believers may step back from the frenzy and analyze the situation from God‘s point of view as revealed in the Scriptures. Then, through that lens, we can speak to the larger moral issues which are behind specific political actions of our day. It is the worldview that is the problem.
- Believers have confidence in the gospel. Sometimes I reflect on how powerful the gospel is to change lives. Politicians and world leaders are not exempt from the power of this gospel. Since we believe this, it seems to me that the gospel and its strong implications should be much more prominent in our public speech. We should have far more hope in the transformation the gospel brings than political speech or any other speech, regardless of its relative importance.
By all the above, I don’t mean that we are to remove ourselves entirely from knowledge of political events and movements. Yet, reading the Bible gives us the best and truest insight into man. We are indebted to those who can present accurate information about current issues, though finding such is increasingly difficult.
We should vote. We live in a country where our participation in the political process is the way change is implemented. In theory, the people are the rule makers under God, and therefore we must be the best rule makers we can be. It is a matter of love to me. This is the reason I vote—so that the best possible outcomes would be provided for those around me, and, by derivation, for the world.
I do believe we can sit down with another Christian friend to think through the implications of public debates from a Christian viewpoint, Bible in hand. And, I do think some Christian men and women should run for public office in order to do good.
It’s helpful to think like Christ in terms of political issues, and like the apostle Paul. They lived under Roman rule rather than our democratic republic, so their involvement in public decision-making was different than ours. Because of this, in our context, we should not avoid interaction with public issues. Still, even in their speech alone, how involved in the specific political issues were Christ and the apostle Paul even about the worst social ills? But on the positive side, note how powerful their statements were at exposing the root of the problem of sin, the reality of God, and the power of the gospel, which can eventually have huge effects on life in any country. In fact, it is almost universally believed that Christian beliefs and Christian people had a very deep-cutting effects on the beginnings of America. We see the impact, for instance, of Puritan forebears, and the First and Second Great Awakenings on our country to this day. We would be right to say that these have had a much greater impact on social issues than what is being said politically by Christians currently, and that this is especially so if our speech mimics the speech of the world.
All this is to say—put the gospel and the Christ of the gospel in the center of your speech, confident of its power to transform. And, be responsible as a citizen of a society so that the society can, as much as possible, remain open to the gospel and do good for the world. Do the former, but do not forget the latter. As you do the latter, watch your language and your attitude so that your gospel impact will not be diminished when it is needed most.
Pray for us
Our ministry team begs you for your prayers. We are not ashamed to beg for them. God opens many opportunities for us to speak the gospel boldly. We want to be faithful to the end. We hope and pray that our speech will demonstrate that Christ and the gospel changes lives forever, and that there is true hope there.
We have recently been out of the country in Colombia and in Arkansas, teaching the word of God. Just last week our team lead a Bible Intensive here in our own context which was a huge encouragement to several. Other trips are ahead for the team. Please pray for us that we remain faithful to present the truth of God in a convincing way.
For those of you who know my family, you will be interested to hear that my daughter Laura is getting married. The date is September 1, here in Kansas City. She is marrying Marco Scouvert who is a missionary in South Africa that we have come to love and respect. Immediately after their wedding and honeymoon, depending on whatever additional time it takes to get a new passport and visa, they will leave for Africa to spend the rest of their lives there or wherever God leads, on mission for Christ. Please rejoice with us and pray for them.