Brace Yourselves: Election Day is Coming

54502273“Democracy,” according to Winston Churchill, “is the worst form of government. Except for all the others.”

The fundamental flaw with democracy is the fundamental flaw of all the other government systems we’ve come up with: human beings are running the place. If you haven’t read your Bible lately, human beings share a fundamental problem: we sin. We like easy things better than hard things. We play favorites and mess up justice. In all human history, there is only One who didn’t sin.

Whether you are pleased or depressed by the results Tuesday night, remember the bad news and good news. The bad news is that humanity is in no state to save itself. No politician can fix all that is wrong with us. The good news is that we don’t need a politician, because we have someone better.

John brought a message to the seven churches of Asia straight from God’s throne. His message came from “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth” (Revelation 1:5). He might not acknowledge it, but earth’s cruelest dictator does not wield total power.  He is under authority! God alone is sovereign. Jesus alone is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 17:14, 19:16). To him alone we bow.

Take comfort in knowing that we bow to Jesus Christ the ruler of all things. Take comfort in pledging allegiance to an incorruptible kingdom. Take time to pray for God’s blessing and guidance on our feeble attempts to rule ourselves.

How We Can Guard the Truth

Print“How can you tell if a politician is lying?” “His lips are moving!”

How sad it is to live in a society where truth has been replaced by her more popular cousin, opinion, and few can tell the difference anymore. How sad it is to see that we have reached a time when we require fact checkers who then need fact checking of their own.

Andy Andrews researched the Holocaust and found a chilling question—and answer.

“How do you kill eleven million people?”

“Lie to them.”

When truth erodes, we will find its replacement incapable of bearing the weight of society.

Too often, though, Christians have understood “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” too narrowly. We have rightly complained about politicians who lie, media that spins, and cons who deceive, but often, we have failed to see our own contribution to the decay of truth.

Every time we gossip and repeat a story about someone in town, we erode the foundation of truth.

Every time we make an assumption about someone’s motives and tell it as fact, we undermine the foundation of truth.

Every time we forward an email or share a message about our political opponents that we didn’t verify, we mar our credibility.

Every time we cling to an old wives’ tale, a tradition, or a superstition when facts tell a different story, we are chasing truth’s shadow, not its substance.

Every time we quit listening to a person because we don’t like what they have to say, we might be muzzling the voice of truth.

Every time we naively accept what we hear without question, our faculties for identifying truth get a little bit weaker.

Every time we use a bad argument or bad evidence in service of a good point, we suggest that falsehood is better than truth.

Every time we exaggerate the story or caricaturize people who disagree with me, we make lies bigger and truth smaller.

Every time we place a higher burden of proof on the claims of others than we do ourselves, we relativize and trivialize truth.

Every time we refuse to be persuaded by valid and true evidence and reason, we build another door to lock truth behind and live in a world of hypocrisy.

Every time we make an accusation on the front page and print the retraction on the back page, we mute truth’s volume.

Every time we sweep our problems under the rug or stick our heads in the sand, we attempt to falsify reality and cover up the truth.

A friend once said that since Jesus is truth that sets us free (John 14:6, 8:32), we should love the truth so much that we wouldn’t misquote the devil.

Never forget that all the world’s sin and pain began with lies from the father of lies.

Do we really want to advance his work, even in a small way?

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson

What Unity Requires

unityFrankly, one of the reasons that families, nations, and even churches struggle with unity is that it just isn’t easy.

Have you ever thought about what unity requires?

Unity requires me to value the feelings of others more than my own. That’s never easy.

Unity listens before it speaks.

Unity needs forgiveness and forbearance to smooth over those rough patches when it would be easier to nurse a grudge.

Unity demands wisdom to discern the difference between absolutes and negotiables. It must have generosity to compromise where possible and courage to stand where it must.

Unity thrives on honesty and communication instead of gossip and speculations.

Unity exists only when people are willing to listen to each other and not assume the worst about those with whom they disagree.

Unity loves instead of hates.

Unity takes a long view. It doesn’t throw in the towel after a setback.

Unity prioritizes the conflicts it faces. It won’t make a mountain out of a molehill. It knows what hill is worth dying on.

Unity seeks to understand before being understood.

Unity stresses a willingness to change when confronted with valid new information. It can’t be hemmed in its own rut.

Unity is based on commitment to the greater good, not a personal agenda.

Division is always easier than unity, but David nailed it when he said, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

Ten Tips for Fighting Fair

FTDF2Wherever you find people, you’ll find disagreements, too. Here are ten suggestions for how to “fight fair” adapted from Danny Akin’s book on Exalting Jesus in Song of Songs. I think you’ll find them useful whether you’re arguing with your spouse or your friends about politics.

  1. Confront problems as soon as possible after they arise. Don’t let them fester into bitterness.
  2. Master the art of listening. Make sure you understand what they actually are saying, not what you think they are saying. Don’t rush them.
  3. Limit the discussion to the present issue. Don’t bring yesterday’s mess into it. What’s done is done.
  4. Use “I” messages to make your point and express your feelings. “You” messages are attacks. “I” messages are admissions.
  5. Avoid exaggerations. “Always” and “never” aren’t helpful. They move us from attacking the issue to attacking the person.
  6. Avoid character assassination. Don’t insult, don’t demean, don’t patronize. Jesus didn’t use these when he talked to the devil, so you probably shouldn’t use them with other children of God, either.
  7. Use appropriate words and actions for the discussion. Is this really worth yelling about? Does the way I load the dishwasher really need to get my blood pressure up?
  8. Don’t focus on winning or losing. If you win an argument with a friend, you’ve won a loser. How well does that work? Focus on understanding. What do you really want? Reconciliation and peace.
  9. Determine limits. Know what “hot-button” topics do nothing except derail the conversation. Vow not to cross them.
  10. Choose to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice. When you hesitate to offer it, remember how often you need it. And if you can’t figure out why you would need forgiveness, think harder. Be willing to say, “I was wrong” and mean it.

Do you think any of these suggestions, if implemented, might change how we talk about politics? Might they change how we relate to that hard-to-get-along-with person in our lives?