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I think most politically involved Christians would say that their politics are influenced by their faith. This is true for me, as well; however, I’ve realized recently that the opposite is also true: my growing political views have actually helped me to grow as a Christian.
Even from childhood, I’ve often been a judgmental Christian. I have a history of being hard on myself and others. I remember being very upset with my parents one Sunday because we weren’t going to go back to church for the evening service; weren’t we supposed to be there every time the doors were open? I also nearly broke down in tears once because my sister was talking about buying a two-piece bathing suit.
Thankfully, I’ve grown out of a lot of this. I attribute it in part to just growing older in general and growing older in the faith. However, I realize that I’ve also become a lot less judgmental in the last year or two because of politics.
Now, let me insert a disclaimer here that I am not a Christian who believes that we should never judge. Right after saying, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:37 HCSB), Jesus also says, “A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit…. A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart” (Luke 6:43, 45a HCSB). In addition, we are told to “be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24 HCSB). So, there is a time to judge, and there is a time to urge other Christians on in the faith.
However, there is also a time for Romans 14:1: “Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about doubtful issues” (HCSB). There are issues where Scripture makes it very clear what we are to do, and then there are issues where Scripture leaves it between us and God; this is where personal conviction comes into play. This is what I struggled with growing up; I wanted everything to be black and white, and if someone was acting against a conviction I held, I thought they were sinning.
Since the 2016 election season, I’ve become more involved in politics. I officially joined my local GOP and began helping with various campaigns, and I started regularly listening to political commentators. I finally stopped asking my dad who to vote for and started doing my own research. Through this, I learned what a “constitutional conservative” is and that I am one. I also learned that – even though I am a Christian and would love for everyone to share my values – politically, I lean libertarian.
It is this libertarian trend and the desire for government to stay out of people’s lives that has actually helped me become more gracious toward others in general. I may not be okay doing a particular thing, but that doesn’t make it a sin. Some things really are between individual people and God. Later in Romans 14, Paul says, “Do you have a conviction? Keep it to yourself before God. The man who does not condemn himself by what he approves is blessed” (verse 22, HCSB).
I’m sure I don’t have a full understanding of this topic, but this is where I’m at right now. And I’ll be honest – letting people be convicted by God, instead of trying to convict them of “doubtful issues” myself, has been a much better way to live.
HCSB = Holman Christian Standard Bible