Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14-21
The Joys of the Political Season
We are on the front end of a season of presidential election politics here in the U.S. Our social media feeds are already dripping with political discourse. The deep division in our country between two ideologies has a way of bringing out the worst in us. We stop thinking, for the most part, for an entire season, and we start arguing over issues about which we are either completely ignorant or, in any other time of year, completely complacent.
Every issue, it seems, becomes colored by our political persuasion. Politics has hijacked some of the most important moral and ethical issues of our lifetime and has a way of disposing of them with much callous and little regard for truth or for fairness. The standard for public discourse connected to politics has reached an all-time low. The media outlets will be busy full time spewing out opinions that will somehow pass for journalism (at least in their minds).
What is most disturbing about this season is that
virtually all other worldviews will fall by the wayside in exchange for either a conservative or a liberal worldview. Conservatives will all be big on guns, hard on immigrants, anti-gay, anti-Muslim and duly horrified by anything Planned Parenthood does or says. Liberals will be hard on guns, playing to the immigrants, open-minded toward Muslims, pro-gay and will defend Planned Parenthood as doing more for “women’s health” than Race for the Cure and the polio vaccine combined.
What Would Paul Say?
Interestingly, people who claim a Biblical worldview will argue from both sides of the political divide. Christians (in both political camps) will claim to see the world through God’s eyes, but their Facebook walls will be “straight ticket” advertisements for their political party’s entire platform. We will all claim Christ as what is most important to us, but our social media posts will betray us and will show what is really most important to us.
As Christians, we do not ultimately place our hope in politics nor in the shallow political solutions to any of our societal problems. We place our hope in God. Right? But our social media pages and posts tell a different story…one filled with anguish and anxiety and fear.
I Need Some Rules. Maybe You Do Too.
In preparation for this season, I’m reposting something from 4 years ago. These are my personal rules for political posts and shares on my social media pages. I do not impose these rules on anyone else…just on myself. I would never presume to tell you what you should post (or not post). Paul, on the other hand, might just impose them on all of us as Christ-followers. Here are my personal social media rules:
1. I will bless those who persecute me; I will bless them and will not curse them. Maybe I should even broaden this category to apply to those who disagree strongly with me and who say mean things about my candidate. Every word of every post will be “helpful for building others up.”
2. I will not be wise in my own sight. The truth is, none of knows quite as much as we act like we know, just because we’ve been reading all the articles on Facebook for the past two weeks. As a culture, we really have lost any understanding of what genuine “expertise” even means. It’s a simple rule, really: on divisive issues, when I have written something that makes me feel wise for having written it, I will then just delete it. Because I am not.
3. I will not repay anyone evil for evil, and I will strive to post what is honorable in the sight of ALL. In other words, I will not engage in any comment war of name-calling, I will NOT strive to have the last sassy word, and I will not post anything that I am reasonably sure 50% of Christians will not think is honorable.
4. As far as it depends on me, I will live at peace with everyone. This “everyone” doesn’t mean everyone who votes like me. It means EVERYONE.
5. I will not be overcome by evil, but will overcome evil with good. I will not fight the evil in this world by stooping to the same tactics it uses to gain a foothold. This revolution Jesus started has always and has only advanced through uncommon love. May my social media posts be likewise!
Scripture as the Lens through Which we Understand our Experiences
Here is my approach to scripture such as Paul’s counsel to us in Romans 12. I don’t use my culture and my experiences to interpret it. Rather, I use scripture to interpret my culture and my experiences. And when the right application of scripture is difficult to figure out, I don’t feel OK to just ignore it or quit trying or write it off as irrelevant. I make adjustments in my perspective and in my behavior that will make the application make sense. And that is exactly what I will be doing with my social media over the next few months. Who is with me?