With the campaign for the 2022 national elections well under way, the political atmosphere in the Philippines is so intense nowadays, especially on social media. Even the seemingly harmless question, “What’s your favorite color?” has become loaded with political overtones.
If you’ve been actively participating in advocating for what you believe in politically, you may have been offended at some point, even by people in church. And as a follower of Christ, somehow you may become torn between lashing out in anger and impatience (I struggle with this every single time) and dealing with the offense in a godly manner.
How do we practically deal with getting offended in political discussions? Should we completely veer away from talking about politics at all? How do you actually apply the verse below?
“Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger, And it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment].” (Proverbs 19:11, AMP)
Here are three things that we can do when we get offended in political discussions within the church community:
Before your relationship with the other person blows up because of an intense political discussion, give yourself space to process your emotions and to filter your thoughts. If it’s a face-to-face conversation, take a deep breath and excuse yourself from their presence. If it's on social media, don't be afraid to hold back before replying.
Take your time to acknowledge that you are offended and angry. Determine what specific words and actions offended you. Take stock of your personal history with the other person. Ask yourself which thoughts are true about the other person, what you’ve assumed about them, and what is something that was simply triggered from past hurtful experiences. Is there anything you need to ask forgiveness for (assumptions, projections, etc.)? Is there anything you need to confront them about (their choice of words, the tone of their voice, etc.)? This allows you to determine what specific things you should bring up in your next conversation.
Remember, you and the person who offended you may have been friends for a longer time than the length of the term of whoever wins in the next elections. But if you’re not, you are still going to be brothers and sisters in Christ for eternity. That’s a relationship worth fighting for.
Regardless of which candidate you’re rooting for, both of you are likely choosing that person because of your love for God and for the nation. You truly believe that God can use that person to promote righteousness and justice in the Philippines.
Why not talk about your love for the nation first? What are the things you and the other person are believing for for the Philippines? What kind of citizens do each of you want to be?
Taking the focus off specific candidates towards participating in long-term goals for the Philippines will likely widen your perspective about what you can do together for a better future.
Whatever differences you may have with the other person, even in terms of long-term nation building, there is a common ground that’s more important and that requires an eternal perspective, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The grace that we have experienced through the gospel allows us to love and to honor God in all we do. This overflows to loving others, desiring for them to experience God’s love that empowers them to live in righteousness so that mercy and justice will prevail in their families, their community, and eventually, in the nation.
If there is any place where healthy relationships can thrive, it should be in the church community. We have the same chance of getting hurt and offended by spiritual family and by society in general, because we live in a broken world. But the calling to be set apart lies in our response to the offense when it happens (because it will).
At the end of the day, in any relationship conflict, we are called to follow Jesus Christ, who is full of grace and truth. Being His follower empowers us to respond to others in love while advocating for justice and righteousness for all.
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