Heart Check (Politics)
[This is a repost of a blog I posted on November 5th, 2012, the day before the presidential election that year. When I read it again, I found much of it helpful for where I am today, maybe you will find it helpful as well.]
Tomorrow we will elect a new President. Finally, we can go back to ads that contain cars whipping around corners, a football player trying to sell us jeans, and double cheeseburgers for a dollar. If you cannot tell, I am tired of the attack ads, but who isn’t?
As followers of Christ, what should our response be in the midst of all this belittling, backbiting, and yelling? Clearly we have convictions. We have things that we are unwilling to compromise. These convictions may cause us to identify with one candidate over another or one party over another. Convictions are necessary, but is it necessary that our convictions be expressed in a disrespectful and contemptuous manner?
Over the last few months, it has been easy to grow disillusioned. Many of us refuse to log onto Facebook or Twitter the night of a debate or the morning after, because we know it is going to be unbearable. We are already dreading logging on the night of the election. It is clear that something is wrong.
The most convicting words for me during this election season have come from John Wesley’s journal. On October 6, 1774, he said, “I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”
Imagine for a moment how different this election might look if we modeled the words of Wesley. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of evil spoken about both candidates, and there have been many friendships severed because of sharpened spirits. These words are so applicable for us today. It is as if Wesley wrote them during this election.
Let us not forget that as Christians we are called to look like Christ. Not just in the voting booth, but in the process leading up to the voting booth, and in the process following our vote.
So where does this disrespectful speech come from? Jesus answered this question in the gospel of Luke when he said, “For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” This is not a matter of politics, convictions, or whatever else we would like to use to excuse our rhetoric; it is clearly a matter of the heart. It is interesting that Jesus linked our tongue and the words that flow from it, to our hearts. James describes the tongue in this way, “a world of evil among the parts of the body.”
The words we use over the next few days and beyond in relation to politics, do not simply convey our political opinion, they carry much more weight. Our comments communicate the very core of who we are. Hopefully, none of us want to convey, that at our core, we are bitter, angry, and sharp. We should be striving to report a different message; one of love, forgiveness, compassion, and freedom.
Maybe, we all need to start evaluating the words that come out of our mouths more than the words that come out of a particular candidate’s mouth. This election season will come and go, but each of us has a legacy we are leaving. Don’t allow this season or any other to weave hostility into your story.