“What is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular.”
Some attribute this quote to the famous sports announcer Howard Cosell but others think he was quoting another source, possibly Albert Einstein. At any rate, the quote has much relevance as we begin 2017.
Whether it’s the number of likes received on a Facebook post or the number attendees at a rally, morals and ethics aren’t something that is defined by the popular vote. It’s defined by God. Obviously our nation is becoming more and more divided and the point of this isn’t to say that God is a Republican or a Democrat. In fact if we stop reacting, and rather listen and look for God (particularly Jesus) in all of this we may find him either in the middle in some cases, or on the outside altogether in others.
The point is that as Christians we can’t allow ourselves to be lumped in or compartmentalized politically, socially or otherwise. We have to look for God in these troubled waters. When we do we may find ourselves somewhere in the middle of the extremes and reactionist or in some cases we may find ourselves on the outside altogether. If you are a Christian Republican I challenge you not to think like a Republican but like Christ. It you are a Christian Democrat I challenge you not to think like a Democrat but like Christ. The world wants to lump us in and our sense of belonging will try to force us into one compartment or the other. The only compartment I want is Christ! Not the way others may define it but the way He defines it.
Our culture wants to call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). It celebrates covetousness, malice, envy, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossip, slander, hatred of God, boastfulness, etc. and gives approval to those who practice them (Romans 1:29-32). We have to be a third voice! And that’s not easy work. It involves not allowing ourselves to get scooped up in the wave of popular opinion, in some cases even amidst those who profess the name of Christ.
What does God say in all of this mess? We have to stop, think and pray. We have to intentionally seek God’s Word. Am I allowing what God says to shape my worldview or is my favorite compartment shaping my worldview? That’s a question as Christians we need to allow to ever linger over our hearts and minds. It’s the only way to think outside of the box of either popular opinion or of reactionary models.
So when we look for what God says, then what? Do we roar like lions or do we relent like lambs? Again, is it possible to be somewhere in the middle? Is it possible to speak the truth in love? Is it possible to think instead of react? Is it possible to wisely choose our battles and our words carefully? Is it possible to truly listen to those we disagree with? (We may even find where we have erred or made wrong assumptions and lost sight of God’s heart.) Is it possible to attempt to build bridges instead of barriers without compromising our integrity? I’m not saying to shut up nor speak up, but rather that there is a time for each purpose in our life and mission (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). We must hold that tension always when it comes to loving like Christ and doing the right thing.
When we do we can be the salt and light that Jesus spoke about (Matthew 5:13-16) amidst the realm of the popular opinion and the reactionaries. Salt is meant to preserve (God’s heart) as well as give flavor (God’s Kingdom) while light is meant to shine (God’s truth and love) into a dark world. That’s right where God wants us to be.