It can be hard for Christians to stay focused during election years. My son-in-law, who is a pastor in New York City, said something that registered with me: “It used to be that if you wanted to know where someone’s heart is, you looked at their checkbook. Now you look at their social media.”
If you look at many Christians’ social media timelines today, you would think that getting their candidates elected in 2020 is more important than seeing lost souls saved for all of eternity.
Our country is more divided than ever. Adding to this division is the lack of respectfulness among our public officials in the way they disagree with each other and present their issues. Many Christians are now reflecting that same disrespectfulness in their political comments on their social media pages.
I once served in a church where several deacons often argued loudly during business meetings. I appealed to them to consider that they may be turning people, especially our young people, away from Christ by their displays of anger. One deacon responded, “I have the right, as a Baptist, to say anything I want, anyway I want to in a business meeting.”
I replied, “You may have that right as a Baptist, but not as a Christian. The Bible is clear that we are to speak graciously, not destructively.”
At First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, we try to remind our members and Sunday School teachers to talk about Jesus and the Bible during their small groups, rather than getting into politics. I preach verse-by-verse through books of the Bible on Sundays. I never dodge any moral issue addressed in the Bible. I will continue to do so right through the election without any change of my practice.
I trust the Bible to be completely adequate to produce the best citizens possible (2 Timothy 3:17).
Could I make four appeals to those who are reading this editorial?
- Romans 13 implies that Christians should be the best citizens in their countries. I believe that means Christians ought to take seriously their duty of voting in our country.
- In a divided country, don’t build unnecessary barriers for our lost friends to hear the gospel. We don’t want to imply that you must be a part of a particular party in order to attend church and hear about Jesus. J.D. Greear recently spoke about leading someone to Christ whose Twitter name was “Lefty Lucy.” If their church had been political, she never would have come and heard the gospel. I want a church where both Lefty Lucy and Righty Robert can come and be drawn to Jesus.
- Watch the tone of what you put on your social media pages. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
- Keep your priorities in order when you speak in church and on social media. Ask yourself, “Will this glorify Jesus? Will this make people love Jesus more? Will this draw people to trust in Christ?”
Let’s keep the “main thing” the main thing during this election year.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Steve Scoggins is president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and pastor of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C.)