Talking politics without causing explosions is all about finding a solution that works for everybody. But you wouldn’t guess that, just looking at the news. Jesus once pointed out that a house divided against itself can’t stand (Mark 3:24-25). Yet when it comes to talking politics, people seem to totally forget this obvious fact.
Politics tend to be very polarized, and people often do more harm than good because they replace individuals with labels and facts with slogans. Each side is sure they are right, and that the other side doesn’t care at all. That’s what makes being a bridge builder so hard. Finding a solution that suits all sides is an inevitably tricky task that takes compromise–with conviction.
Being able to bring two sides together takes not only gusto on one party’s part, but also the willingness of the other. As carriers of God’s peace, we can help people willingly work together. But being a bridge builder takes not only great public speaking skills, it takes humility. So how do we bring people together?
1. Pick Your Battles Wisely
[B]y wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. -Proverbs 24:6
When it comes to talking politics, there are tons of things you could talk about. But before you get wrapped up in a discussion, it’s good to consider whether it’s really worth making an issue over. If you want to show the other side that you truly care, then you will need to go deeper than surface squabbles.
There is a time and place for everything, and in some cases it may be helpful to discuss a lighter matter. You can’t let minor problems distract from the core issues that everyone’s needs are staked on, but solving smaller issues can lead to trust when addressing bigger ones. Once you’ve helped both sides find common ground, then you can address the touchier issues.
2. Be Friendly
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” -Matthew 5:43-44
It’s so easy to forget that our enemies are people too. They have hurts and pains, imperfections and needs, just like you. Everyone has a unique set of of beliefs, informed by things like personality, upbringing and experience, that lead them to decide their stance on political issues. If we try to say they have no reason for picking their side, we lose our opportunity to reach out and reason with them.
To bring people together, you first have to recognize that they are individuals with unique aspirations, beliefs, and needs. You have to be willing to give up your own pre-conceived ideas about why they think the way they do and reach out in love. Just like we want the other side to treat us with understanding and respect, we should make it our goal to be friendly, and respecting of them.
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. -Luke 6:31
3. Look at Both Sides
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. -Proverbs 18:17
As sinners, we have a built in bias towards ourselves. We tend to think we’re always right. But if we brush off arguments that challenge our ideals, we won’t ever find a way to get along with others. After all, how can you expect someone to consider your side if you never consider anyone else’s?
Listening to others, and looking out for their interests doesn’t come naturally. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, and if we’re going to be peacemakers we need to, first and foremost, be humble and open to correction. Humble people attract, while prideful people repel. If you want to bring people together, you’ve got to be humble.
While it may not always be easy to talk politics when people see things so differently, it is possible. We can compromise with conviction when we don’t just fight about anything, recognize people as individuals, and stay humble. You really can be a bridge builder, even if you’re just a kid!
Compromising with conviction is a thin line to walk, but it isn’t impossible. It may be confusing at first, but with practice you’ll get the hang of it. I hope that this series has inspired you to engage in politics more. Always remember, it is our duty to live out our faith in every area of our lives. Engaging in politics isn’t easy, but with God’s help you can do it well, and give glory to Him.