Our role as leaders of Jesus’ sheep involves giving people direction, even in the arena of politics. The question, in these tumultuous times, is how? The issues are vast and complex (e.g. gay marriage, refugees and immigration, abortion, national security, economic policy, gender, capital punishment, welfare reform). The divide between people both inside and outside the church is wide and deep.
Let me recommend the application of two biblical truths to help ground the shepherding of your people. These texts have also served me when I have been tempted to speak and act in inappropriate ways.
- Love and pray for your enemies. But I tell you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:44). Jesus commands us to love our doctrinal, political, national, religious, and personal enemies. Our God is the greatest enemy-lover of all time (Romans 5:10). And the only way to begin loving our enemies is to pray for them until we feel something of Jesus’ love for them. In fact, when we keep this command, we experience His love in ways we did not before. We embody mature, adult discipleship. So, encourage those who are not praying for love to fall on their knees in poverty of spirit until Jesus births this love and prayer in their hearts.
- Long for and pray for God’s government to come. One of Jesus’ greatest gifts to the church is the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13). The world’s great need is for the world to know God as God. We are to pray His name is hallowed and His kingdom to come – on earth as it is in heaven. We are to pray daily for the coming of a new heaven and new earth. In doing so, we remember the short-lived, transitory, sinful nature of every earthly government or political party. So, encourage those who are not praying daily the first 3 petitions of the Lord’s Prayer to begin doing so.
Jesus calls us the salt of the whole earth. Salt preserves, purifies, flavors, and prevents corruption. The power of salt, however, lies in her difference. The world needs us as Jesus’ disciples engaged in the difficult political conversations in which we find ourselves. But we need to do so differently, being salt in every interaction so as to display the face and glory of our Father in heaven.