I want to solve all your problems — so read on.
I’d like to help you know who to marry, who to do business with, how to related to people you despise and who to elect the next President of the United States.
You will never have gotten so much from one blog post. Some of you will never come back.
I want to focus here not on what to think, but how to think. I want to address Christians, and say that to be godly, we must learn to think and choose well, particularly in the emotional and divisive climate of this Presidential election.
So, what to do?
To be wise, first exercise self-control.
Practice a robust self-control.
Galatians 5:22 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is “self-control.”
If your follow Christ, if the spirit of God really lives in you, then you have the power to control yourselves. Self-control is the tasty fruit on the green branches of the true Christian.
Someone told me recently, that they were having trouble thinking negative thoughts at work. Then someone else said to them, “You know you are choosing that.”
“Really!” They thought. “I choose what I think.”
Yes, you do, and you can choose to put negative thoughts out of your head.
When your thinking gets fearful, negative, anxious, you can gently turn your attention to something positive.
Someone, a Christian, recently began to gush in front of me who they were going to vote for for President, and then why. It was awkward, not very well-thought out.
People are quite emotional about this election, and not very rational.
I didn’t agree with this gushing person, there was a lot of hate in what they said, but they had been drinking too much and they were ranting and so I controlled myself, said a little and then shut up
James 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
All this, being pure, peace-loving, considerate, impartial — it requires self-control. We Christians can do that. When someone says what they think in front of us about their politics, we should have the self-control to listen, and to withhold speaking too soon, to give our elves time to weigh a good response.
Let the quiet voice inside, the Holy Spirit remind you to stay calm, and loving. If you speak your opinion, speak simply, truthfully, respectfully, stick to issues. Avoid personal attacks. When you adamantly disagree, I recommend that you still exercise self-control, gentleness and respect so that you walk away able to talk with that person again.
And alway remain open — to rethinking your position.
Look again at James 3:17
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is … “impartial.”
Christians, be impartial.
Wow! What does that mean, to be impartial? It means to weigh both sides, to avoid bias, to be fair, to be just, to not be prejudicial, to not be only for “your” people/
Take the current issue between the police and our black communities.
We Christians need to care and pray for both. And we need to try to understand. Why are blacks upset? Why are the police afraid?
We need to ask God to break our hearts over this issue, if we are not already grieving. What kind of thinking, training and behaviors would help change this horrible conflict? Let’s pray for protection, solutions, for understanding for both sides.
On political issues, most of us tend to get stuck in one mind-set, perhaps the same as what we grew up with. Some of us, who watch only our one, favorite news station may have become very bias. We are perhaps eating too much, of our favorite political, one-sided ice cream.
Last week I brought home a bag of Brussels sprouts and also, a tub of vanilla bean ice cream. I ate both. Well, not together.
One of them made me gag.
I must admit, I have a bias. I prefer the ice cream. I really only love Brussel sprouts I if I put bacon on them.
So I told my wife, don’t bring home any more ice cream. What? Why?
Because my doctor told me to lower my cholesterol.
Just because I prefer something, doesn’t mean it is good for me.
I would suggest you read opinions the opposite of your own, Brussel sprout opinions, and weigh the issues as unbiasedly as possible. If your partiality is so strong that you find yourself ranting, and attacking others, and calling names, you have lost your Spirit-given self-control.
What we need right now are people who understand the differing sides of the issues, and who think of solutions that work for everyone, thus becoming the peacemakers of James 3:17.
Those of us who become overly one-sided and resort to emotional, personal attacks on others do not have the Spirit of Christ within.
Stay in control, be fair and then — very importantly — work at thinking Biblically. That takes work. Think like a Christian first — think like a Democrat, Republican or Independent second.
Do not let one other person or political party or pastor or spouse for that matter represent or control your mind.
Now is the time to be reading your Bible at least as much as you are watching the news. The news might confuse you. Your Bible will clear your head.
So you might ask.
What is Biblical thinking?
That is a tough one. Many Christians limit it to thinking with Biblical morality.
That has truth to it, but I believe that true Biblical thinking is not so much about putting out a moral, legalistic formula that we then bash everyone else with. Biblical thinking is thinking like Jesus.
Jesus weighed every person and issue in front of him individually and fairly. The only group he much went after were those with a religiously legalistic platform. Jesus was always tuned into God, listening to what God was telling him rather than to the moralistic leaders on the national Jewish or Roman news.
And secondly, Jesus preached that the greatest Biblical, moral commandment is love. This election year, following Christ, we need to keep our love on.
If Jesus is your Lord, then remember that Jesus taught you that your political goal, your primary Biblical morality, is to love your neighbor as yourself. Listen, political Christians, no one adequately leads you except Jesus. Maintain a limited, parsed support for your preferred candidates and their worldly views. Put your main trust in Christ, and measure your candidates and their opinions with his yard stick of love.
Hebrews 12:1 Fix your eyes on Jesus.
What else, what else is wise?
To be very wise in 2016, stay positive. There is a lot of fear and a lot of negative in our country today. This is causing lots of hateful, uncontrolled, fearful responses to others.
But Christians, “God did not give us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and love and self control.” Do not be driven by fear and by its sibling, negative thinking. Control your mind. You can!
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such thing.”
Think about what is good in others, even those you disagree with, and what is good in our country. There is a lot of good, and a lot of freedom and protected rights in our country.
So now we come to the part where I tell you who I am going to vote for President.
I am going to vote for … whoever is most like Joseph.
Joseph is my favorite political leader in the Bible.
His brothers sold him into slavery, but he learned through this difficulty to rely on God. I love to follow leaders who have been humbled by God, who have been trained by brokenness, who have been pruined by difficulty in such a way that they have given up their selfish motives and live primarily to serve others.
Joseph learned how to forgive, and how to rescue others, and how to think outside the box of his Hebrew roots.
Joseph, once in he came into power, a Hebrew, stored away grain for all the Egyptians, and the Bible says, “all the world came to Egypt.”
Joseph was a servant, a lover, and he even gave food to the very brothers who had previously betrayed him. Joseph was a unifier. He brought people together.
We need more leaders like this in American today, leaders who will bring people together, black and white, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, to feed us all the bread of forgiveness and the tasty, sweet dessert of togetherness.
Measure political candidates by Joseph.
Actually I haven’t decided my vote for sure. I’m leaning one way, but I’m still hoping for a Joseph or an Esther to run onto the political stage. I would really like another option.
Lastly, to think like a Christian, let love rule you.
I want to repeat this, like a million times. Christians, let love rule! Measure every thought you have this election with the ruler of love. By their fruits you will know them said Jesus. The most delicious, tasty, godly Christian fruit is love.
Jesus taught us to love our neighbor. God is interested in the salvation of everyone. There is nothing xenophobic in Jesus. To vote like a Christian, is to vote for loving solutions for everyone.
Verily, verily I say unto you, you must even love those who vote the opposite as you. Perhaps they are balancing out your biases!
Last weekend I saw the musical Sense and Sensibility at the Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. It was outstanding. Funny! Witty! Entertaining.
At intermission I went to the bathroom. There were two old codgers talking there.
One said, “I couldn’t hear 10% of it.”
The other said, “Don’t worry it’s just a dumb chick flick.”
Why did they go? Their wives made them.
But it was more than a play for girls. One of the lines of the play stuck me as profoundly noble. Elinor, deeply hurt by a lover who betrayed her said, “I wish him (the betrayer). immeasurable happiness.”
That is so magnanimous. That is filled with such love.I took that line home with me and prayed for some folks who have deeply hurt me.
I prayed, “God, I ask you to give them, immeasurable happiness.”
As your think about your hurtful world, let love and forgiveness rule you.
1 John 4:7
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Okay, let’s wrap it up, and put a red bow on it. Or is it a blue bow? Or another color?
I have tried to remind you of several simple wisdoms relevant to the times.
Christians, In 2016 please control yourselves. Be impartial. Think Biblically. Think like Jesus. Delight in what is positive.
And love, love love, love both the political Brussel sprouts you don’t like, and your favorite political ice cream.
But not too much.