“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
1 Peter 2:17
God certainly knew politics would divide us. Jesus and the Apostles spoke of politics numerous times in the New Testament. In 1 Peter God gives us four simple instructions that should guide our political talk, arguments and actions, with respect to people who aren’t on “our side” of the aisle.
Show proper respect to everyone. Our political discussion should always come from a position of mutual respect. Even if we staunchly disagree on a point, respect demands that we are civil to one another, that we listen, and that we know when to stop arguing. A good question to ask in any political discussion – will making your point push you away from the person so that it makes it difficult or impossible to be a positive spiritual influence? Never put politics ahead of the Gospel.
Love the family of believers. The book of John tells us that people will know we are Christ followers by our love for one another. In many public circles, showing others your battle lines has become more important than showing genuine care and concern for your fellow man. If only we spent as much time and energy showing people how much we love them as we do explaining to them what we are against.
Fear God. Our moral standards flow from our relationship with God, as should our motives and actions in dealing with others. Nowhere in Scripture does God put a political party above His own glory. Whenever we delve into politics, we should be asking ourselves what God desires us to do in that particular situation. What will bring Him glory and honor? Is our motive to be “right” in terms of our political affiliations, or “holy,” that is, set apart for the work of God, being a positive and God-honoring impact in our family, community and country?
Honor the emperor. Regardless of which party happens to be in charge, the Bible finally reminds us to honor our leaders. Even when we disagree with them, it should be in the vein of respect for their authority over us, and in prayer for their spiritual condition and for God to grant them wisdom and clarity in their rule and responsibilities.
An epidemic of disrespect, more than any other single area, has resulted in a wider political divide than ever before in our country. When we do not respect each other, we do not listen to one another, and worse, we simply stop caring about each other. So for your political-opposite friends, begin first with respect, then love, then fear of the Lord, and respect for our leaders. Perhaps you will find an opening not to convince them of a political stance, but to share your faith and grow them spiritually instead.
God, help me to be a positive influence for You with those I have political differences with. Help me to look past those differences and treat them with respect. Help me to never put a political argument over someone’s spiritual condition. Instead, help me to see others as You see them, first as Your creation, and second as people that Your Son died for. In Jesus’ name, Amen.