Discrediting the Ministry
With the recent immigration debate, much has been made about the intersection of faith and politics. While it is right that all of us who choose to have political insight, or engage in the process should be letting our faith guide us, we must still be careful to be authentic and consistent. We must let our actions and communication be guided by our faith and the truth of scripture, instead of letting political opinions and leanings determine how we follow Christ.
When we seek to engage in political discussions, or even decide to exercise our right to vote to make an impact on the country as a whole, maybe we can review some axioms or reminders. Thoughtfulness and reflection have rarely produced a bad result, and this is an arena that certainly could use more of each.
Be consistent in our application of scripture. It is true that God’s laws for Israel were not only fair and just, but also told us about His values. However, we can sometimes be too quick to find verses that agree with our particular viewpoint at a time, ignoring the rest of what God said. For every command to love the immigrant and foreigner (Leviticus 19:34), there is also the command to stone the sexually immoral (Leviticus 20:10, 13). We cannot choose to love the justice in one part of God’s word, while ignoring the call for holiness in another. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one [point], he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:8-13)
Listen attentively to those who disagree with us. So often we do not listen to understand someone else, but we only seek to rebut their talking points with those of our own. Repeatedly, scripture encourages us to seek the truth and weigh what we hear with care, not immediately gainsaying. “The first to plead his case [seems] right, [Until] another comes and examines him.” (Proverbs 18:17) “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (Proverbs 12:15) The fair-mindedness of the Bereans can still be an ethic we cultivate today (Acts 17:10-11), as opposed to cutting off or “unfriending” those with whom we may disagree. (Proverbs 18:1)
Work toward peace in all of our communication. Instead of arrogantly seeking to shut down communication with our brethren or outsiders, we should be diligent to be at peace. If we cannot be at peace with our brethren, our worship may be in danger! (Matthew 5:21-26) We should always use our language in ways that provide the best benefit to those who hear us. (Proverbs 25:11; Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6) If someone chooses to be offended by us, let it only be in the matter of the gospel. “...giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited...” (II Corinthians 6:3) The gospel is certainly offensive enough without our help. (I Corinthians 1:22-24)