This post is for Christians, although others may find it helpful.
In the past year I have been in more difficult conversations with a number of my Christian friends, on areas of disagreement, than I can remember. While in most cases we remain on friendly terms there is also a sense of awkwardness at times. The two main issues that led to this happening are the UK deciding to leave the EU and Donald Trump becoming President of the USA. I believe leaving the EU was the right decision and so was Trump becoming President.The irony is that I have been in a small minority, which can be a frustration given I think I am right and along with fighting for truth these are the principles I would want us all to follow.
Interestingly, I come from a theological stable where taking more than a cursory interest in politics was frowned upon, given our (as Christians) citizenship was in heaven and our focus should have been on getting people saved. Yet, like many, I have come to see that social justice and good government is also important and, while imperfect, politics can be one way to bring these matters about. I have argued my case vehemently in earlier blogs and if there is a common factor, it is my opposition to what I see as a globalist conspiracy and an unholy alliance to take over the world and bring the people under subjugation rather than empower them to take control of their affairs. What makes me sad is good people are taken in by all this and it is the reason why I find it difficult to shut up.
Two recent examples of why I am vexed are the fake news put out by the media opposed to Trump, the latest being the size of the crowd attending the inauguration and some friends who should know better sharing this falsehood and then get on the high horses when Trump’s team objects. The other example relates to the protests across the country (many women led) on the day after the inauguration, which is perfectly ok in a democracy provided done in a dignified way (which didn’t always happen). If there is a common theme, it is a fear that rights will be taken away with Trump in charge and this has not been helped by some of Trump’s rhetoric which has been reported, sometimes out of context. While I grant people should make that point and a wise Trump will take on board genuine concerns, I feel some of those concerns are misplaced (Trumps inauguration speech point about coming together out of mutual respect noting despite our differences we all bleed red, is pertinent I feel). What did anger me, and we saw several examples of this, was the objection by some that their abortion rights might be taken away. If I were President that is what I will try to do, but the irony is that Trump has not said he would do this.
When I attended a prayer meeting at my church over the weekend, in considering what to pray for we agreed Trump and the American people were legitimate items for prayer but as one member of the group pointed out: we were not met together to discuss politics but we are met to pray. I fear that there is a danger that we might exclude those in our church gatherings who don’t go along with the status quo and we could end up with pro Brexit and Trump congregations and anti Brexit and Trump congregations. Better when we can graciously agree to disagree and carefully choose our moment when to correct someone we believe to be in the wrong.
The Bible verse that came to mind was Jesus words: “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” While having a respectful and informed debate is a good thing, falling out when we disagree is not and we should keep to the “true, necessary and kind” principle. We are all to love one another and when people see this they will know that the message we proclaim is the real deal. It is therefore important that our fixation on “winning the argument” does not end up in our “losing the plot”.