Maybe there’s a reason we are told not to talk about politics or religion. It seems that those two topics can result in more heat than light. The church is not immune to division and finger-pointing, especially when it comes to views on political issues. The Apostle Paul addressed a church that was polarizing over two issues; it can give us guidance on how to approach such topics.
ONE. People were judging each other’s spirituality by what foods they chose to eat. As people left the grocery store, these self-appointed food inspectors would glance into the people’s bags to determine if they were vegetarians or meat eaters. Then they’d be given a label to wear that told all bystanders if they were in the “strong faith” group or the “weak faith” one.
“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:1–4)
Notice that Paul put it in perspective. We are not to judge one another over “disputable matters.” The other person isn’t my servant; they don’t answer to me. They serve the Lord. People with a different view than mine don’t answer to me. We’d say that was so dumb, to fight over foods. We can think of far more serious issues to divide over, like the color of the carpet or the music in our worship services. One church split over the decision of where to place the coat rack. Important stuff!
TWO. The second issue that was separating Christians was choosing which day to gather for worship. Paul said it didn’t really matter, any day was good. It wasn’t worth dividing over. In our day, some Christians have chosen to gather on Saturday; others have chosen to meet on Sunday. Both groups have their biblical reasons, but we are to love one another, regardless of which day we’ve chosen.
“One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.” (Romans 14:5–6)
Today, rather than groceries or special days, the division is often over politics or social policies. Not all Christ-followers will choose to support the same candidate or be on the same side of a piece of legislation. Those issues can be very important to us, but as Paul said, we are to “stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27)
The Gospel is the hope of mankind, not what we eat, not what day we worship, not government leaders, and not legislation. As we talk about the issues of our time in history, we should remember that we are first and foremost Ambassadors for Christ.
If we want to follow Jesus, we will show what love, grace and humility look like to everyone, especially to brothers and sisters in Christ. As has been said, “Unity in the church is not based on conformity of thought, but on mutual worship of Jesus Christ.” Love for Jesus is our bond. We are to gather around Him, not our political views. We serve God, a much higher Authority than a political party. Jesus is the foundation and cornerstone of the church. Let’s keep Him central to life.
Give room to one another to arrive at their views. If you want to challenge them, do so with grace and much listening. Too many times we’ve heard from the world, “You Christians can’t even get along. Why should I become one of you?” In this political season, let’s demonstrate to the world that Jesus’ love is greater than partisan politics.