For the past few weeks, I’ve been preaching and teaching from the book of James. In his letter, James takes a strong stance on “taming the tongue,” only speaking when thinking is involved, doing more listening than talking, and only speaking in a way that will demonstrate self-control and honor to God.
That’s a tough “sell” during an election year.
My long-time friend Stephen Loftis, pastor of Mountain Grove Church in Hickory, NC, gave me a reminder to practice what I preach today. I haven’t done it often, but I have been guilty of violating the “code” of James in recent weeks. I have had a church member or two remind me, gently and kindly, that my political opinions must be expressed with care.
Like it or not, when I speak, I am viewed as speaking on behalf of the church! While I’m allowed to believe and vote however I choose, public proclamations must be handled with care.
I have struggled with some anger over politics in recent weeks, and have not always expressed that in the best way. I avoid the topic publicly if I can, but sometimes I lose sight of the greater good.
I do not know what Stephen’s political positions are, and have no idea what party, if any, that he claims. But this is a great reminder that our political passion should never outweigh our passion for Christ. When we lose sight of the command to love one another, we have allowed our politics to outweigh what is supposed to be our one true passion.
As Stephen puts it:
Recently, a pastor friend noted on his FB page the various, and maybe polar opposite, political opinions exressed by members of the church he serves. He applauded them for expressing their stances, and for their ability to continue to work collectively for the kingdom of God, even in the face of their differing political views. (Thanks Jeff Roberts). More recently, I have read, with great distress, several postings from other pastor friends who have divulged thier political views in, well let’s call it, “vitriolic” language. I have struggled for several days as to whether to speak to this issue or not. I cannot let it pass any longer.
And before you ask, I’m not going to tell you how I plan to vote. There’s a reason the voting booth has room for only one person and why the sides are blocked so no one can see in. And yes, I have already made up my mind, and there is little that any can do to change it.
In short, if you can’t say anything nice…well, you know how it goes.