"Hi, my name is Jared and I am way too interested in political news."
Now that we've got that out of the way, I do want to say that I make a point of not commenting on politics one way or the other unless it is to my close friends and family. The nature of being in ministry is such that it could very easily result in alienating people and pushing them away from Christ. Therefore, I simply say nothing, watch, and take note of which way the winds are blowing and what people are willing to say publicly so that I know where to meet them in conversation.
That said, I am secretly a political junkie who regularly feasts on all the latest world and political news like an adolescent girl with a stack of Teen magazines. Whether its Pyongyang's blustering about nuclear weapons or the attitude the Supreme Court has in questioning it's latest case, chances are I have either heard or read about it somewhere in the course of my day. It's not often that I am caught off guard by anything happening in the world. Oh how I do love the information age.
You see, over the last 10 or 12 years I have noticed a growing problem with the 24/7, everybody always knows everything news cycle. Some might say it's making us more polarized. I would agree. Others might say every little thing, regardless of how important (or not) it is, gets way, way too much coverage. I would agree with that also. Still others might say that it works to try and shape public opinion rather than simply report on it. I would agree with that as well.
But that is not the problem I have noticed.
The problem I have noticed is that, whether the shows realize or not, they turn people against each other by turning them into caricatures of what they really are. Battle lines are drawn for the sake of entertaining the audience and making the other side look like idiots. If you don't believe me look up the Piers Morgan or Sean Hannity shows. Regardless of what side you are on, take note of not only how the other side is portrayed, but the words and phrases used in these "debates." Then stop and consider how much information you are not getting from the sound bites and video clips that are played. It is entertainment, and it is built for ratings.
What does this have to do with Christianity though? The problem is that when we allow those we disagree with to be reduced to caricatures of who they really are, and allow those views to affect how we see anyone who happens to disagree with us, we stop seeing people how God sees them and start seeing people as the world does.
If we are not careful, we will cease to be the Christians we must be.
Where the world tells us to attack and make those who disagree with us bleed, God tells us to pray for our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. Where the world tells us to get revenge, Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek. Where the world tells us to shout down our opponents, Christ tells us to show His love to everyone regardless of how wrong or mean they are, correcting when necessary and encouraging when appropriate.
If instead we see people only as enemies, only as cartoons, only as objects with which to argue and assail with rhetoric, we will never get to what is truly important, which is sharing God's Word with those who need it most.
Please don't misunderstand me. We don't have to back down and slink away when faced with something. As Christians we must be willing to speak for truth and goodness, especially when it is under attack. But don't let anything, especially political views, stop you from sharing the most important thing of all: That Christ came and died for all of mankind so that they can be with Him in the end. Everything else will sort itself out.
But it always starts with Jesus.