I’m finally learning that the Holy Spirit isn’t particularly interested in uniting us about everything—not even everything of importance, like political positions. When Jesus and Paul tell us to be of one mind, they’re referring to love first of all, and then to all those other gifts of the Spirit like joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If our politics get in the way of those things, we know we’re making an idol of it.
In fact, the same chapter that enumerates the fruits of the Spirit includes a list of sins that, if lived in, keep us from inheriting the kingdom of God. Among them are dissensions and factions. People born of the Spirit renounce the faction that divides and look for comity.
The Spirit may never make liberals of conservatives, or conservatives of liberals, but will certainly eliminate the extremism at the ends of the political spectrum, allow both sides to recognize a broad common ground, and facilitate compromise. The result will be a movement toward healthy government in which liberalism and conservatism find their best expression. Each side respects and sees the good in the other, and the country benefits.
Other verses come to mind: “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). “We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know” (1 Cor. 8:1-2). “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). “Let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (Rom. 14:13). “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking [or of political conviction], but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. . . . Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Rom. 14:17, 19). These verses offer counsel as we consider our positions in today’s supercharged political climate.
Humility and respect for others move us to believe that people on either end of the political spectrum have something to teach us. It seems only right, then, to be open to both, steering a course that avoids the danger on either side of hard partisanship. It’s impossible to be a responsible citizen in a democracy and not take sides, but we ought to stand for truth against falsehood, knowledge against blind enthusiasm, compromise against intransigence, civility against slander, trust against fear, and calm against rage. Spiritual revival will not eliminate the yin and yang of politics; it will accomplish something even better. It will put the way they complement each other to use for the good of the people. In other words, God will use politics to bless us.
Since left and right have come to stand for opposite ends of the political spectrum, it seems especially appropriate to take these verses to heart: “Be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or the left” (Josh. 23:6). “Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” (Prov. 4:27). And finally, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isa. 30:21).
About the Author
Leon Schaddelee is a retired high school teacher and a writer. He is a member of Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich.