Last month’s column established that faith and politics should mix, but in a very different way than expected. Our faith should inspire us to vote our convictions yet we must never forget the central place of evangelism to our mission as a church. We do not exist to get people elected, but to transform the electorate with the gospel message of Jesus Christ. As such I want to continue our exploration of faith and politics by considering one very important prinicpal. Paul states in 1st Corinthians 9:22 that he has become all things to all people so that he could win some. I do not want to press this point too far, but I would like to consider what this means for Christians who see the debates within politcs and within parties in particular.
To some extent the debates in politics frame the debates in culture as a whole. Sometimes the debates come out of the struggles in society. In either case the church should recognize that political debates are a reflection of the deep needs and struggles of a society. As our culture struggles with the abortion debate the real question is much deeper than choice. It is a question of the supression of women verses the conscious neglect of life. If we look at the welfare or social security debates the real issues is over the survival of people in times without work verses the need to encourage hard work. The biggest debates in our election season this year reflect our cultures struggle with the concept of just war or nation building, with the concept of fair and unbiased healcare verses personal choice, over the greed and seeming disregard for the future health of the economy verses the need to bail out and sustain our markets, and finally over the proper use of our natural resources, namely oil. Both political parties and every candidate tries to explain to people their answers to these debates, but what about Christians?
If we are to truly follow this principle in 1st Corinthians 9:22 I do not think we can be come an pro choice person to the pro choice or drill now, drill here to that faction, etc. What I do think we must do I carefully consider how we can answer the deep seeded problems these people face. In other words we should emphathize with the people and offer them not only some physical aide, but the only real solution to their problems the gospel truth! The tenor of what Paul says in verses 9:19-23 is that we must not antagonize those who we want to win, but understand their difficulties and share the blessing of the gospel with them. So as a believer as we listen to the debates in society I think we should
1) Listen carefully to the debate in order to hear the true issues being addressed. In doing this we can truly empathize with the pain and hurt of those who are struggling.
2) Also listen carefully for the rash and unbiblical decisions people make. In doing this we can carefully recognize the areas where people need to hear the correct biblical truth.
3) Open up to the possibility that either political party or candidate may have some valid reason behind what they advocate. Again this allows us to empathize with the person.
4) Consider how you personally or how our church can answer the issues raised in the debate.
5) Use these opportunities to share the gospel!
Again God bless you and I am praying that He will lead you to “consider all people’s positions” that you might by all means “answer them and win some”!