Now that the critical elections of 2017 are behind us–and quickly, before some new ones pop up!–perhaps we can discuss this dispassionately.
You are a serious follower of Jesus Christ. You take Scriptures seriously and believe God’s people have an obligation to be salt and light in this world. As a result, you exercise your right to vote and you try to influence others to do the right thing.
So far, so good.
Can we talk?
I have a question for those who take their discipleship to Jesus Christ seriously and as a result have strong political views:
“If it could be shown that you are wrong in your conviction (position on this issue, support of that candidate), could you change?” Would you be willing to drop your opposition to that cause or stop advocating that issue if you learned you were in error?
If it could be shown to you that your position on abortion or Obamacare or gun control (or any of the other hot issues for conservative Christians) was in error, would you be willing to switch to the other side?
I’m not being the devil’s advocate here. He has plenty of those without you or me lending him a hand. I’d rather be a voice for righteousness if possible.
Some people are so wed to their position that nothing, absolutely no facts or reasoning or insights, can budge them. And when that’s the case, they quickly become belligerent and carnal and a detriment to all that is good and right.
Some of the most devout Conservative believers quickly become angry zealots when they espouse their cause. And that’s what concerns me at the moment. They begin trying to do the work of the Lord in the flesh. Which dooms it from the start.
So, the question stands:
If it could be demonstrated to you that the truth is with the other fellow, that you are wrong, not doing the Lord’s will, would you be willing to change?
There can be only one answer for the serious follower of Jesus Christ. Just one.
The only way for a true child of God to answer that is in the positive.
I would be willing to change my convictions if it were shown to me that I was in the wrong.
I want to please my Lord, not further my agenda.
–The Truth and only the Truth shall set you free. (John 8) That line in verse 32 refers to the Lord Jesus, of course, but it’s also an eternal verity. Lies and half-truths lead to bondage; the Truth sets us free.
–Think of Peter’s comeuppance on the rooftop (Acts 10) where he learned he had been seriously in error concerning the Gentiles. “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” (10:15). Later, Peter said, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him” (10:34). He was willing to change when shown by the Holy Spirit his error.
But the reality for so many modern believers seems to be another thing entirely.
I’m in the midst of reading “Crowded Hours,” the 1932 autobiography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the first-born of President Theodore Roosevelt. As a history student I love reading about well-known characters in the past as they looked at events with which I have a certain degree of familiarity. Take the 1912 presidential election, for instance.
In that election, Theodore Roosevelt ran against his former friend William Howard Taft for the Republican nomination. When the Taft machine squeezed him out, Roosevelt and his people went the third-party route with the Bull Moose Party. Because of the split vote, Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected. What I find of particular interest is that Alice Longworth seems to have no acquaintance with the issues of the election. One thing and one thing only mattered to her: Her father. He was the truth. Whatever he did, she was for. And when he switched to the third party, she was all-in for him.
We will not begrudge this daughter the right to support and believe in her father. But she stands as a representative of countless others who support a candidate for reasons other than right or wrong. They like this one’s personality, they dislike the opponent, they identify with this position, they do not the other.
Their “convictions” look an awful lot like prejudice. No amount of reasoning could budge this young woman’s support of her father, no matter what he had done or how excellent were the opponents.
Christians, of course, were not called to spread their convictions, but the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to “preach the Word,” not our personal set of doctrines.
Consider what Saul of Tarsus was doing. He was arresting Christ-followers and dealing with them harshly. And he was doing it out of strong convictions. No weak, mild-mannered rabbi was he. And then, outside Damascus the Holy Spirit humbled him and showed him he was in seriously error. “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,” came the voice from Heaven (Acts 9:5).
Paul answered with the most honest and desirable of all responses when shown by the Holy Spirit that one has been in error: “What would you have me to do?” (Acts 22:10).
“Lord, what will You have me to do?”
When we pray that little prayer, we lock ourselves into certain obligations:
–We must be willing to do His will. Otherwise, asking for His will is pointless.
–We must be willing to wait for His will.
–We must be quiet until we know His will. And that may be the hardest part of all for some. Imagine some friend demanding to know whom we’re going to vote for, and we answer, “I’m waiting to hear from the Lord.” In most cases, the response would be unkind and harsh, I fear.
The question we have not considered
Someone will want to know why we address only conservative believers here and not liberals? “Don’t liberals need to change also? Even more than the rest of us?”
My answer is this. The positions which we think of as liberal on these moral/political issues–abortion, federal funding of abortion, political correctness in the public arena, Scripture’s being outlawed in more and more public places, etc.–can easily be shown to be false, unbiblical, and unworthy. And yet those of the liberal persuasion seem undeterred.
In my experience, the liberal has little desire to find God’s will, but equates His will with their own. That’s my observation and the reader is free to disagree.
Liberals take their Scripture casually in my observation. When they find a passage that does not jive with their set of personal convictions, they quickly go past it in search of something that lines up with their point of view.
The conservative, Bible-believing follower of Jesus Christ has a hunger to know God’s will and to do it. And he/she is always subjecting their actions and thoughts to scrutiny by the Spirit in order to more perfectly line up with the will of God.
That’s why the question before us is redundant. If one is sincerely a follower of Jesus Christ, he is forever changing and growing and adapting. He is frequently “leaving those things which are behind” in order to “press forward.”