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On church, politics and civility


In past election years, the political differences within our churches have led to disagreements.

Billie Silvey | In The WordBut this is the first election season I recall there being so much animosity, and I’ve lived through a lot of them.

As Christians, we need to be concerned both about the spiritual and the physical needs of those around us. We are to tell people about Jesus and the salvation available in him.

At the same time, it’s hard to claim to care about the spiritual needs of others while disregarding their physical needs. The same Jesus who tells us to preach the Gospel also tells us to feed the hungry. And he himself was an example of meeting both the spiritual and the physical needs of those around him.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
— Ephesians 4:2, New International Version

Thus we consider politics from the standpoint of how well it enables us to express our concern.

As Christians, we don’t just live in our church buildings. We live in the world, and we form opinions about it. That’s why some brothers and sisters in the same congregation may find themselves coming down on different sides of the political divide. Some of us may be Republicans while others are Democrats.

Scripture doesn’t tell us how to vote, but it does tell us how to treat each other. When we find ourselves on different sides of any question, the requirement is the same. We must do all we do in love. We must be kind to one another and respect each other’s rights to have different views. And we must be careful not to be judgmental.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca’ (an Aramaic term of contempt) is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool,’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22).

As we judge others, so God will judge us, as we read in Matthew 7:1-2. If we insist on our own rights to believe what we believe about human government, which is not supported one way or another in Scripture, we must accord that same right to our brothers and sisters.

And we must learn to express our disagreement with love and respect.

BILLIE SILVEY, a Christian for more than 60 years and a journalist for more than 50, authored the popular “God Has …” series of Bible study guides, and edited Trusting Women, a book by and about women serving God by ministering to people. She is former outreach minister for the Culver Palms Church of Christ in Los Angeles. Her books include “God’s Child in the City: Catching God’s Vision for Urban Ministry” and “The Victory Lap: Growing Old With God.” See her website at billiesilvey.com.

Filed under: In the Word

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