It’s election season. Again.
I cannot believe we’re here already. I’m already seeing the ads on TV. I’m already seeing the debates on Facebook. It’s already getting awkward whenever 2 or more people are gathered to talk about their opinions.
During election years, I usually want to do one of two things:
- Ignore it all until it goes away.
- Convince everyone everywhere about the best way to vote, think, and be.
As badly as I wish I could stick my head in the sand until this all over, that’s not really allowing my faith to influence and affect every area of my life. Whether we agree on political positions or not, I think we can all agree the country is not as good as it can be.
While politics is not the solution, it is an influence.
And if I ignore the news and debates and issues and candidates, then I’m not able to make wise choices with my vote that help further the causes of justice and righteousness.
So, if I’m going to be even a little bit aware about politics this year without completely ruining my spiritual and emotional health, I need to remember these four things…
1. Remember I can’t fix it all.
Maybe you don’t struggle with this, but I sure do. Some of the things I want to write about, talk about, yell about, and fight about every single time my friend I haven’t talked to in 12 years writes something on Facebook that is just so stupid (to me):
And it’s good that I care about those things. But if I want to keep my sanity over the next few months, then I really need to let some of those things slide by when I see them.
Caring equally about everything all of the time will only lead to exhaustion and paralysis. Letting it go insert Elsa Singing Gif is essential, and here’s the fist step in doing that…
2. Remember my daily rest and focus.
I can admit it. One of the first things I do when I wake up in the morning is open Twitter, Facebook, and News apps on my phone. It seems the more anxious or stressed I get about the state of our country or my family, the more consumed I become with knowing about everything that’s going on.
Don’t be like me.
If I have any hope of getting through these next few months with any friends of family left on the other side, then I need to remember to develop and keep my routines of relaxing and re-centering my faith. Some ways I can stay focused and centered on the good things in life (aka JESUS):
- Emphasize Truth and Goodness
- Limit negativity, fear, and division
Practices like meditation, simplicity, and rest are essential to a healthy spiritual life. Check out Richard Foster’s book if you want know more about how to do them.
3. Remember my mission.
If I’m consistently speaking with and listening to God and reading my Bible, remembering His mission and my role in it should become easier. Don’t misunderstand me: it won’t be easy to stay focused, but it will be easier.
Our world is designed to make us lose focus. We have the radio, TV, Spotify, Magazines, and even gas station pumps all vying for our attention now. It makes it really easy to forget what I’m trying to accomplish when I start thinking about politics.
Our mission as followers of Jesus is to help others follow him. To be his body and to do his work. It’s only by remembering our highest priorities that we will not get bogged down with fear, hate, or disgust of the “other” side of the political spectrum.
Before I start getting into a conversation about politics or faith, I have to ask myself if it is forwarding my mission or just making me feel better? There are two passages in the Bible that help remember my mission: Ephesians 6:10-20 and Luke 6:27-36
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)
But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. Luke 6:27-28
In the midst of an argument or conversation or comment I often get frustrated with and mad at the other person. It’s easy to get mad at them and to forget that I’m not fighting against them, but fighting for them.
No matter my political stance, I need to remember that if I speak with eloquence and perfect logic but without love, then my words are doing harm to the cause of Christ – no matter how right I am.
4. Remember my neighbor.
It feels good to win. Sometimes I want to win so badly that I’m willing to cut corners and hurt someone’s feelings or embarrass them.
Seriously, don’t be like me.
Instead, we must always seek to listen to those we disagree with. We must always treat them with dignity and respect no matter how wrong we think they are.
Peacemaking…is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer…
In the moments that I allow myself to go onto Facebook (or the times I’m too weak to resist), and I see something I have to speak up about, and I get into a conversation/argument with someone, I must work to remember he is my neighbor.
If I try to win the argument with cleverness and refuse to let him have the last word, or if I am so busy speaking/typing that I can’t listen to what they are saying, then I’ve already lost. I’ve failed my mission to be light in a dark world. I failed to put Jesus’s self-sacrificial love on display.
And I’m going to walk away from the encounter upset, tired, and angry. And ain’t nobody got time for that. Especially right now.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the state of the world right now, then we have the perfect series for you! It’s 15 emails full of inspiring stories from Christian artists and leaders that share how they worked through times of fear in their own lives.