We are in the political season and that means having to endure the endless advertisements of those seeking public office. While they are mostly trying to reach the undecided, the ones who are still persuadable, we are all subjected to their spin. They want us to know why we should vote for them and not their opponent. This is not an easy sell because so many of us are skeptical about what they say. We have heard the promises before and seen them broken, so we ask “what difference does it make”. Many politicians change their convictions so often it is hard to know what they believe, if they believe anything beyond getting elected. The whole routine can make us cynical and disillusioned.
I am afraid that many approach religion the same way. Denominations try to get their particular message out. They want us to know why we should choose them over the thousands of other faiths seeking our service. It is a divided, diverse and confusing message, and so people do not know who to trust. To make matters worse, “organized” religions often change their faith to fit the whims of time. Take for example the subjects of abortion and homosexuality, acts clearly condemned by the Bible (Rom. 1:18-32). Some religious institutions, that use to condemn these sins, now approve and support them. I think people have gotten to a point where they are asking, “What difference does it make?”
Studies show that most religious people do not fully believe what their “church” stands for. Part of the problem is that members see church authorities deciding “official” policies and sometimes changing basic doctrine. But here lies the issue; no church is the arbiter of truth. Denominational leaders are people just like the rest of us, with no more right to decide than anyone else. The Lord’s church is the “pillar and ground of truth” (1 Tim. 3:15), which means it up holds what God has already decided. We do not have the right to change anything that God has settled (2 John 9).
People often say, “I wish I could find a politician who would tell me the truth and then stand behind what he believes.” No we don’t! Most of us want a politician to tell us what we want to hear, our version of truth. Or maybe we want to hear the truth as long as it does not affect us. For example, we have a deficit problem in this country because our government spends more than it takes in. The American people, Democrats and Republicans alike, admit this crisis and the need to do something. But no one wants to make the hard choices and personal sacrifices; instead we would like others to suffer the inconveniences. The attitude is, “don’t take my program away from me, but take it away from someone else.”
It is much the same way in religion. We talk about wanting to know God’s Truth, but for many that is only if truth supports our position (Matt. 15:1-9). God forbid that anyone should question our version of faith and goodness. And so rather than honestly considering what others say, we may simply dismiss them as irrelevant (Matt. 13:54-57). We may even get angry with people when they challenge our convictions and choices (John 7:21-25). Do we want someone to tell us the truth? The answer is often no.
Candidates do a good job of not telling us much. They memorize their talking points, shallow little sound-bits of nothingness, intended to offend as few people as possible. In truth, they do not want us to know their plans and agenda because it might cost them votes. Have you ever noticed that when a Politician faces a difficult question they usually dodge the answer? And so what we hear from them is often not worth our time and energy to listen.
Sadly, religious people may do the same when challenged about their teaching and faith. If they cannot answer the questions they duck the issues by resorting to “smoke and mirrors” (John 8:31-59). Change the topic, ignore or deny the evidence, and attack the messenger is all that some have in response. This does nothing to resolve the disagreements.
Christians must not allow themselves to play the political games of religion. We must stand up for truth and never dodge a serious challenge to our faith (1 Peter 3:15). Service to God is not a popularity contest except as it applies to our Creator (Gal. 1:10). The only prize we are trying to win is our salvation (Phil. 3:12-14). Not only that, but we want to take others to heaven with us. So never be afraid to have a clear and unapologetic discussion with those in error. You don’t have to be ugly or mean-spirited in your approach, but you must be a good solider for Christ (2 Tim. 2:2-4).
Remember, God’s message is worth believing in and fighting for. The gospel is God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16-17) and it has the “word of life” (Phil. 2:16). The Bible contains all truth and no spiritual truth exists outside of its pages (John 16:13). Therefore, any doctrine or faith which contradicts its message is wrong (2 John 9). Don’t become disillusioned by the confusion and disagreements among religious people. Remain strong in the face of controversy or when people mistreat you because of you convictions. We have a higher calling by the grace of God. Press forward to reach you goal of heaven.