Thursday, December 14, 2023

Politicians and No-Win Scenarios

Suggested Reading: Mark 13:5-13

One of the most common complaints about politicians is that so often they change their positions or vote against their principles because they don't want people to dislike them. In a way, it's understandable. After all, they have to be elected to office time and time again and that becomes difficult when people dislike you. Then again, constantly changing your opinion so that people will like you tends to turn people against you, too. In some ways, being a politician is a no win scenario: even when you win there are a bunch of people out there who voted for the other person. Sometimes the best politicians, the ones who are able to keep everybody happy, are the worst public servants, while the best public servants are often poor politicians. Generally, I tend to prefer someone who stands by principle, even if I disagree with a few of those principles, over someone who will change their opinion because they want me to like them. With the principled politician, I know what I am getting and have a measure of trust that they cannot be bought.

Jesus tried to prepare his disciples to choose whether or not they would be principled in Mark 13. Giving them warnings about the future, Jesus told them, And you will be hated by everyone because of My name. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered (Mark 13:13, HCSB). Jesus warned us, not only that people wouldn't like us, but that people would hate us. In the previous verses, Jesus had warned about the persecution that hate would produce. He didn't tell us how to avoid that hate or to get people to like us. Jesus encouraged us to endure it.

How we handle people disliking us and even hating us says a lot about the kind of Christ-followers we are. If our goal is to make people like us, we will compromise our faith and our behavior in order to make it happen. But if our goal is to be faithful to Christ, we will remain true to Jesus' teachings and love the very people who hate us. We will live consistent lives that reflect a devotion to Christ which is greater than any petty need to have people like us. And, ironically, we tend to cultivate more genuine respect from others by living faithfully for Christ than by trying to get others to like us. That respect can eventually lead them to reevaluate their own opinion of Jesus.

When you experience hate, persecution and dislike, resist the urge to make those people like you. Love those who hate you, but don't compromise your faith for them.

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