This article serves us well in reminding us how we are to engage the culture during this political season. Let these wise words from Pastor Ronnie encourage us to show Christ to people on all sides of the political spectrum.
AIC Content Manager
Let me come out of the gate saying I will not, under any circumstances, be supporting or voting for Donald Trump. I know, not an incredibly shocking announcement for most of you reading a post on Am I Called. Personally, I have a pretty low pulse for politics. Although I care deeply about issues that affect the church and are contrary to the gospel, I usually don’t carry around a great deal of angst when it comes to candidates. As disheartening as it is to witness large segments of professing evangelicals pledging their undying support for Trump, the greater challenge is loving people close to us who are doing the same thing.
Here’s a snapshot from an email that came in from a relative:
“Hi Ronnie, who are you voting for? I’m supporting Trump, I think he’s a good man.”
For the record, this is a person who tries her best to love and serve Christ. She’s actually the one responsible for introducing the gospel to me at a young age. Of course, none of that means she’s supporting a good candidate, at least in my opinion. So, yes, I disagree with her strongly. No, I wasn’t surprised she’s a Trump supporter. But there’s a part of me that felt agitated and disappointed. The bigger dilemma is that I have a relationship with her that needs to transcend the voting booth. Does this sound familiar? Is this election causing some division and drama with some of your friends and family?
Whether the Trump circus has been the occasion for mafia levels of discord or not, how do we show kindness, gentleness, patience, and self-control over an issue as polarizing as a vote for The Donald? How do we engage our friends and loved ones without sounding angry, judgmental and holier than thou? Three ways:
- Be Patient – My relative wasn’t trying to start a debate when she emailed me; she was simply wondering where I stood. But the claws-and-fangs version of Ronnie Martin wanted to go on immediate attack to try and shame her into seeing the error of her judgment. We need to be careful to avoid interpreting peoples’ honest inquiries as inquisitions. Although Proverbs 15:1 tells us that a soft answer turns away wrath, we usually need God to replace our wrath with soft answers first. Although my initial gut reaction was decidedly unloving, I decided to wait. When I did write back with my honest opinion, it was far more gracious and generous in tone. I know, it’s a little trickier when Uncle Jerry lobs a partisan bomb across the picnic table on Memorial Day, but a patient pause may lead to a peaceful discussion.
- Be Respectful – The natural tendency for many of us is to grab our Louisville Slugger and clobber Trump supporters with a mile long list of facts and quotes. But a vote for Trump, or any candidate, is born out of many underlying and complex emotions. Being respectful of others should be a primary concern for Christians because it creates opportunities to move past Trump and ask questions that address the heart behind their fears and concerns. Does God’s grace not free us from judging a person for who they’re voting for? Unlike Trump himself, we have the ability to display the heart of Christ as we treat people with gentleness and respect (1 Pet. 3:15). Being respectful to people in spite of their political positions will keep relationships in place for the day when no one will remember (or care) who voted for who.
- Be Loving – Though we rightfully shudder at many of the outlandish statements spewing out of Trump’s mouth, it also opens the door for shepherding those who are cheering him on. Because of the gospel, we have the freedom to love people who have opposing viewpoints by illuminating the contrast between fear of man and faith in God. We can take comfort knowing that God is in control of elections and the people who vote in those elections. We can assure our loved ones that we serve a sovereign king who’s rule and authority is never undermined by an earthly one. Because of this glorious truth, I can love my Trump-supporting friends and family with a full heart because God’s love for me remains full-hearted. In fact, if Trump makes it all the way to the oval office, we can remind one another all the more that, just like in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, “his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:35).