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The good will project

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus: “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1–3).

How can we do that? Here are three brief suggestions.

1. Be slow to post, quick to pray.

If the apostle James were writing today, he might have considered adding “posting” in parentheses to James 1:19. Instead of rushing to social media to rage about what you are passionate about, or whatever the issue of the day might be, what if we turned first to prayer and meditation on Scripture? One way to guard against political idolatry is to let political discourse point us back to the simplicity and sanity of spiritual disciplines—allowing the Word and the Spirit, instead of social media, and cable news, to guide our responses to the crises of our time.

2. Be more certain of your failures than others’.

It’s a constant temptation in today’s partisan world to think the absolute worst about our opponents and to assume we can better read their motivations than they can. As Arnold King notes in The Three Languages of Politics, “We [often] go so far as to believe that we understand our opponents better than they understand themselves. . . . The only person you are qualified to pronounce unreasonable is yourself.” 

Rather than taking a defensive posture toward our opponents, Jesus calls us to first investigate ourselves (Matt. 7:1–5). As Jesus followers, we should be the first and loudest to point out flaws within, even if it marks us “disloyal” to a political tribe. Be most certain of your own shortcomings; extend grace to those who differ.

3. Be certain of Jesus.

Political idolatry finds its way in as we begin to place certainty in a candidate, political ideology, or policy. Why? Because I lack a robust certainty in Jesus. Our political climate invites me, and you, to not only weigh arguments and candidates, but to also ultimately assess the state of our faith. Is our certainty found in our Savior? Or are we more certain of our politics? Are we more loyal to Jesus and moved by his mission than we are loyal to a candidate and moved by their campaign?

For the sake of our witness and our influence, let’s not be remembered as grandstanding mouthpieces for a political ideology, but a people humbled “under the mighty hand of God” (1 Pet. 5:6–8). May we be loudest about proclaiming Jesus, the Lord over every earthly tribe.

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