I work at a law firm in Northwest Arkansas. There’s a team of about 15 people, all from different backgrounds and differing beliefs. Some of the people vote very red and others, very blue. It’s amazing the culture that they have created where you are able to hear one another’s opinions, value each other as individuals, and maintain relationship. (And this is a group of lawyers who get paid to express their opinions and picked a career based on their ability to argue!) The staff operates with respect and dignity.
This week, after the chaos at the Capitol, someone called the firm and asked for a name that I didn’t recognize. I told the man that he had the wrong number because we don’t have anyone working there by that name. He had done an internet search for Republicans in NWA who are involved in law. A man who worked at our firm 10 years ago popped up, so he called us. Even though he didn’t reach the man he was looking for, he proceeded to deliver the speech that he had prepared and just gave it to me instead.
After seeing the picture of Richard Barnett sitting with his feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk, this man wanted someone to listen to his outrage. He let me know that since we live near the town where Mr. Barnett is from, “You’re all garbage and trash.” He continued for a while. It was mean and it upset me. I so badly wanted to defend myself and explain my personal thoughts and feelings about the situation. It’s not fair to call me trash and garbage. You don’t know me. I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t agree with what happened. My blood pressure was rising and I was ready to tell him what I thought. I said, “Well, SIR…” and it was like the Holy Spirit put His hand over my mouth and said, “No ma’am, not today!” I ended up telling him something like, “Thank you for your call, have a nice day.”
I was mad at this dude for about an hour. And then my heart broke for him. He sees the chaos in our beloved country and wanted to do something to take a stand against what he is seeing. I mean, I still don’t want to be held responsible for anyone else’s bad choices and he could have expressed himself in a kinder fashion. But I honor his bravery in standing up for his convictions.
I often keep my mouth shut publicly about politics. I have opinions and I process them with my husband and a few very close friends. I am not a person who wants to argue or fight with you, that’s just not my nature. However, I also don’t want to stick my head in the sand and act like all is well when our country is very desperate for Godly leadership.
Churches are struggling. IF they have been allowed to reopen and meet in person, most of the people haven’t returned. That means that pastors are preaching to empty or half-empty rooms, which isn’t spectacularly inspiring. Our church has been very blessed through this. Our leadership team and volunteers are beyond faithful to show up and continue serving but that’s not the case for many. Our financial giving has miraculously gone up (thank you, Jesus!) but again, that’s rare. Pastors are having to let staff go and many can’t afford to keep their buildings open.
Pastors are struggling. There has been a lot of pressure from church people to speak out about every single issue (“but you better agree with me or I’ll cancel you!”). Some pastors haven’t taken good emotional, physical, or spiritual care of themselves. Some have had moral failures or even quit.
Christians are struggling. Everyone is on edge. Because 2020 was so politically charged while we were mandated to be physically separate, there’s a lot of suspicion and division among us. We’ve split right down the middle and are either championing causes (and considered “too liberal”) or refusing to change (and considered “too conservative”). Some of us feel like we better take a stand for those who are on this side of the fence, but doing so ticks off the other side. Then the social media feeding frenzy ensues.
We are cancelling ourselves out. While those who are desperate for Jesus, watch.
We have to open our eyes. We are deceived and are destroying ourselves. I always thought that persecution was going to come from people who don’t know the Lord. But the most hateful, persecuting things I have heard in the last year have come out of the mouths of those who claim to love Him.
“Then a demon-possessed man—he was both blind and unable to talk—was brought to Jesus, and Jesus healed him so that he could both speak and see. The crowd was amazed. ‘Maybe Jesus is the Messiah!’ they exclaimed.
But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, ‘He can cast out demons because he is Satan, king of devils.‘
Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, ‘A divided kingdom ends in ruin. A city or home divided against itself cannot stand. And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is fighting himself and destroying his own kingdom. And if, as you claim, I am casting out demons by invoking the powers of Satan, then what power do your own people use when they cast them out? Let them answer your accusation! But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you,'” (Matthew 12:22-28 TLB, emphasis added).
I think there are a few things we can learn from this passage:
- The Pharisees were offended at Jesus. I have been there before. I think it’s important that we ask why? Were they jealous of Jesus’ fruitful ministry? Were they jealous of the attention He was getting? Were they upset because they weren’t seeing their own prayers answered? All of those reasons lead us back to self. It was about them. They missed the amazing miracle of the man who was healed because they were consumed with themselves. How are we missing what Jesus is doing right now because of offense?
- The pharisees tried to get the focus off of Jesus. They accused Him of using Satan’s power instead of God’s so that they could manipulate the situation. People weren’t likely to continue praising Jesus or follow Him around if they thought that His power was evil. Are we taking attention off of Jesus?
- Jesus knew their thoughts. I so appreciate that the Bible says this. Some of the Pharisees kept their ugly thoughts to themselves, but Jesus came and exposed those too. I generally try to keep my mouth shut, but I also have some attitudes that I let hang out in my mind. Jesus knows everything that we think and wants our thoughts to reflect Him. What ugly thoughts do we need to repent of?
- Division leads to failure. Jesus paints a clear picture here. The Church will not survive if she is not standing in unity. We need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. What part of the division in the Church is my responsibility? Where am I wrong? What attitudes do I need to repent of? Where have I been manipulated by the enemy? Where am I deceived? Where am I too judgmental, stuck in my ways, and unyielding? Where am I too open and easily swayed by the issues of the day? What is Jesus calling me to do to bring healing?
Politics have their place and they are important. Your views matter. But there is a time and a place and an appropriate manner for them to be shared. If your political views have become your identity, then you need to work on that. Your identity should come from being God’s child alone. If your political views shape how you see other people, then you need to work on that. You should see people the way God sees them. We have to remember that He died for those we disagree with. To Jesus, we all have the same value.
I love the Church and believe in her. She is Jesus’ bride and He is passionately pursuing her. Let’s be worthy of that pursuit. Let’s lay down our personal agendas, and opinions. Let’s stand with our swords facing out, taking out the enemy FOR each other. We have authority and can stop playing the enemy’s game. Let’s love one another instead.
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples,” (John 13:35 NLT).