Delegates have a responsibility to represent their town, city, or state. As Christians, we have a responsibility to represent Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
According to beliefnet.com, here’s ten ways we can do that and then a host of questions I’ve compiled that we can ask ourselves.
1. In Our Community- Do we give back to our community? Are we contributing to the healthy function of our neighborhoods?
2. In Our Speech- How do we use our words? Are we using them to uplift others and pour life into them? Or do we use our words to gossip, slander, or use course language?
3. In the way we treat strangers- How do we treat immigrants? Or even those who come from different neighborhoods, ethnicities, or religions than us?
4. In our homes- How are we treating those in our home? Are we patient with them? Are we being examples of love?
5. In our marriages- How do we treat our spouses? Are we exhibiting the love that we see described in 1 Corinthians 13? Are we patient? Kind? Humble? Selfless? Forgiving?
6. In our occupations- Can others sense the difference about us on the job? Do we love our coworkers as Christ does? Do we engage in workplace gossip? Do we put down our coworkers? Do we sabotage them to get ahead professionally? Do we act with integrity on the job by faithfully doing our job and coming to work on time?
7. In service and outreach- Do we serve at our church? In the community or with other outreach projects? How’s our attitude when we are doing these things?
8. In taking civic action- Do we vote with biblical principles in mind? Or do we leave Christ out of that in favor for party loyalty or social acceptance?
9. In our leadership- How do we lead others? Are we humble? Are we respectful? Do we listen well? Are we fair?
10. In how we follow- How do we follow? Are we humble? Do we complain about those in leadership? Do we cut them down with our words? Do we spread gossip about them?
So after doing some self-reflection, I want to encourage us on how we can be good delegates in how we decipher the rhetoric being thrown at us on a daily basis and how we can guard against participating in unfruitful discourse. Words have always mattered. God displays his creative nature in his use of words to bring the world out of nothing, and Satan uses cunning to distort truth and sow doubt, which forever changes the world from flourishing to deterioration. Politics is notorious for having tons of lying, half-truths, promises that candidates do not intend to keep, tearing down of other candidates, and campaigns are getting dirtier with each election. We must be vigilant during these times that we don't become sucked into it. It may be hard not to fall for it, because candidates are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising to make sure that we fall for it. (Matthew 10:16)
I most frequently see Christians falling for religious rhetoric from political figures or religious rhetoric from other Christians pushing for certain political figures. Political figures love to play evangelicals by presenting themselves as Bible believers and followers when everything else about their lives holds little to no fruit of this. We find ourselves endorsing and supporting candidates that say flattering words or even offer the church more money, all while tarnishing our witness as believers when we vocalize them as Men of God (Colossians 2:8, 1 John 4:1, Romans 16:17-18). The Bible warns us even in the Book of Revelation of churches like Pergamum and Thyatira that had compromised its beliefs and followed a false prophet. Following a political leader is not what Jesus ever commanded us to do as many times as people will manipulate Romans 13 to suit their own interests. We should pray for them, we should obey the laws they lay down (as long as those laws abide with the Word of God), but we should never become such devoted followers of them that we have no room for careful critique and concern over their policies and actions. AND I MEAN THAT TO BE AS NON-PARTISAN AS POSSIBLE. I literally could care less which party a candidate comes from, I have a lot of questions and a lot of concerns.
This has led to a steady decline in even the Christian's ability to engage in healthy and fruitful discussions. I see that on social media, Christians have become so wrapped up in their political affiliations, our positions on police brutality, the coronavirus, that even we have lost the ability to be kind to one another. It's not that these topics aren't important and don't deserve our time, but they don't deserve ALL of it. They don't deserve the broken relationships and churches we are seeing in the wake of this time. We are using our phones and computers not to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, but instead the gospel of conservatism, the gospel of progressivism, the gospel of Black Lives Matter, the gospel of Blue Lives Matter and Law and Order, the gospel of masks impeding the freedom to smile or breathe or the gospel of wear a mask. How do we find hours to do this and not minutes to share the gospel, disciple someone, pray for someone, or to read the word and see what it would say to us?
We have to become more aware of the enemy's devices. He doesn't want us to be good delegates and representatives of Christ, so if he can't get us to outright do something sinful, he can just wrap us up in distracting, pride-filled discussions online and in our homes where we feel we need to prove to the world that Coronavirus is a hoax, cops are evil, minorities are just behaving like victims, the president is bad, or the president is good. Yet, we are proving to the world nothing about Jesus Christ and only displaying our divisions and brokenness to a world that's already deeply broken by sin. We are rife with idols. Self, party, money, our occupations, our culture, our guns, our race, and yes, even America itself has become an idol for some of us.
"In politics, groups sometimes reduce complicated matters to simplistic buzzwords to fit their narrative or complicate more straightforward matters to obscure the truth."- Compassion & Conviction: The AND CAMPAIGN'S Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement
If we ourselves as Christians, who should be salt and light in this world, who should have our eyes fixed on the truth, are not paying close attention to how messaging and rhetoric is causing massive issues, then how can we get mad at the rest of the world? For example, a word like freedom may sound great but could be advocating for "removing necessary regulations and decreasing corporate accountability." We saw how innocuous sounding laws like the Patriot Act or the Equality Act presented huge problems (invasion of privacy and endangerment of religious liberty). Simply using rhetoric and messaging to pretend that you identify with a group should not cut it. We should stop buying it hook, line and sinker when political campaigns try to sweep the church with these tactics.
Something else we should watch for is how we can oversimplify issues with rhetoric. We have heard the phrases, "Just Say No" when we were faced with the "War on Drugs" in the 1980s. Which oversimplified addiction issues in communities that had poverty, inequalities and were just rebuilding after the civil rights era. Today, people are making 180 degree turns on these stances due to the opioid crisis, but still struggle to have compassion for those communities still reeling from the effects of the "War on Drugs". Also, we have to talk about the over simplification of discussing abortion as only a "women's issue" instead of discussing how it could also be "a children's issue" or describing someone who may not support all forms of abortion as "anti-woman". These phrases leave out nuanced points of view that obviously would bring into the play the unborn child and discussions about contraception. The list of oversimplified or empty words in politics are LARGE. Many people do not see through them and refuse to acknowledge when our own parties use them, so as not to be "disloyal".
As I discussed in weeks before, don't buy into the either/or discussions or mentality. Jesus was faced with this with the Pharisees (Luke 20: 27-40, Matthew 12:1-14). He wasn't afraid to reframe the question, or to be silent when necessary. Because none of this was about proving anything to the Pharisees who were determined not to believe. It was always about compassion for those who needed to be healed, the glory of his father and his mission here on earth. I promise you believer, delegate, representative, that your mission here on Earth isn't to defend Trump or Biden, conservatives or progressives, police or protestors, but it is to
Love the Lord God with all your heart, your soul and mind (Matt 22:37)
Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39)
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.(Matthew 28:19-20)
The And Campaign