Right or Left? Liberal or Conservative? Democrat or Republican?
There has always been a difference of opinions in this country. There always will be. However, the divisiveness and intolerance for opposing views has escalated, and in some cases to the extreme.
Concerning the hot social issues in this “information age” we live in, there is an abundance of information, as well as misinformation, promoted on many fronts. From social media, to online news services, to 24 hour cable news outlets, platforms providing information continue to grow.
I was talking with someone a few weeks ago who told me he gets all his news from Facebook. He’s not alone. According to a Pew study last year, 67% of U.S. adults get at least some news on social media. Facebook, they reported, still leads other social media in that category.
Differences of opinion are one thing, but isn’t it sad to see so many in our country caught up in all this extreme divisiveness? The Right demeans the Left; Liberals condemn Conservatives; Democrats hate Republicans. Many who loudly and proudly say they advocate tolerance are themselves very intolerant. Many who preach love are not very loving.
The Christian Response
For the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, what should our response be to all this political and social unrest? Maybe we ought to consider how Jesus handled the political and social scene in his country when he walked the earth. It was certainly not an ideal environment, to say the least.
Some 60 years before Jesus was born, the Romans expanded their empire and occupied Israel. Can you imagine seeing armed soldiers from another country stationed in your city! While the Jewish leaders had some authority over certain matters, Rome had the ultimate power and authority, and they wielded it vigorously.
In addition to government officials appointed by Rome, such as governors and others, Judaism at the time of Jesus was a complex mixture of divergent social, political and religious ideologies.
- There was the Zealot movement, comprised of those who were trying to actively fight for their freedom from Rome. Some have referred to them as revolutionary freedom fighters.
- Wealthy lay-nobles, priests and aristocrats, the Sadducees, tried to keep their power through compromise with Rome. The Sanhedrin came from this group.
- Temple Priests not only officiated over the religious life of the Jews, but were also rulers and judges. In Jesus’ time, King Herod, bowing to Rome, decided who would be the High Priest.
- Most of the Scribes (the ‘theologians’ of the day) were Pharisees. They promoted a strict, meticulous observance of rites and ceremonies of the written law. They were extremely legalistic.
- King Herod was a client king appointed by Rome. He and his sons were vicious murderers.
- The Herodians were a political party that wanted to restore a Herod to the throne in Judea as well as other areas ruled by Herod the Great. They were political foes of the Pharisees who wished to restore the kingdom of David.
- The Samaritans were despised by the Jews as foreigners who worshipped the Lord in the wrong way. It was taught that Jews should have no dealings with them.
- And there were the Essenes, who thought the solution was isolation, to withdraw from society completely.
The Light of the World!
Jesus didn’t promote withdrawing. He certainly wasn’t legalistic. He didn’t compromise with the Romans, and he never advocated a violent overthrow of Rome. Instead, he taught the people about God. He brought light to his dark world. So can we.
Jesus saw the bigger picture – his Father’s picture. He taught people about the goodness of God. He encouraged love and forgiveness. He healed people. So can we.
He told his followers they were the light of the world. He said, “Let your light so shine among men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
The only “cause” Jesus was involved with was doing the will of his Father. When confronted by people of various groups of Judaism or Rome, he responded with the Truth. In some cases, he was silent. There is very little recorded about his interaction with Rome, but what is written speaks volumes.
Our Country Needs Light!
Of course we’re not blind to the cultural deterioration, hate and darkness we see and hear all around us. But whether it’s here in the United States, or in any country, those who know God’s Word ought to be promoting God’s Light! The last thing Jesus said before he ascended was that we are to be witnesses to the ends of the earth.
You and I can bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of peace to people in our part of the earth. Instead of getting caught up in all the divisive ruckus, we can, to the best of our ability, let our light shine. We can bring people the Good News about our good God, and about His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
At the end of the recent Super Bowl, it was refreshing to see both the winning coach, and then two players, acknowledge Jesus Christ and God for their success. They didn’t use that platform to make a political statement, or a protest. Instead, they promoted the True God and His Son.
And one other thing that is often overlooked, but so critically important: Scripture admonishes us to pray for those in authority, period. The reason? So that we can lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness. Our leaders need our prayers!
There will always be difference of opinions in the political and social arenas. But as a follower of Jesus Christ, pray for your country! And, let your light shine by speaking His Truth!
I Corinthians 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.