Even though conventional wisdom says that we shouldn't talk religion or politics in polite company, my outreach conversations have taught me how to talk about religious belief with a variety of people without argument. But what about politics? That's a challenge I usually try to avoid. I feel like there are so many potential rabbit trails and misunderstandings when it comes to politics that I usually patiently listen to people's opposing political views without much objection, because they are usually a distraction to my larger purpose of sharing the Gospel. Important as the concerns of this temporary world are, they are secondary to the larger concerns of eternity.
Most people, in my experience, are of the opinion that those of us who focus on eternal things are so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good. They say this, however, because they have somehow explained thoughts of heaven and hell away, or they believe they have heaven secured for themselves and their loved ones. Part of the job of evanglism, then, is to expose this false assumption, as Jesus did when He said in Matt.7 "… wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
So I unapologetically try to avoid politics, but on Saturday we began an outreach conversation with Demetrius, about 25, a recent college graduate who is heavily involved politically. He grew up in a Christian home and seemed strong in his faith in Christ, but his political views were so different from my own that I couldn't imagine anyone believing what he does and having an ongoing, spirit-filled relationship with the Lord. He views the social justice issues that he is involved with politically as his way of serving God and living for Christ. It was hard for me to avoid talking politics because his views seemed to be such a stark contrast to someone with whom I would have otherwise felt a sense of Christian fellowship.
As it turned out, rather than argue about the specific issues he felt so strongly about, it was more helpful to talk with Demetrius about Christian principals that led him to these views. He has drifted from church involvement and daily interaction with God's word. He has substituted what "seems right in his own eyes" - the same mistake the Jewish people kept making as they drifted from God and His Word. He assumes heaven is secured for most everyone by a loving God, leaving nothing left to do but get involved in the concerns of this world politically. If he is truly a believer, he is young and immature in his faith. He doesn't need to be condemned for his political views, but he needs to be encouraged and challenged to let basic Christian principals take root in his life. We prayed with him for just that to happen and for God to guide our steps in this complicated world as we ended our conversation. I asked "Was that a fair thing to pray for?" He sincerely said it was.