It’s hard because no one ever listens as soon as a conversation turns political. It’s just about waiting for our turn to regurgitate the pros of our favorite candidate or policy. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about: How should I change my conversation strategies in response to this fact?
In the past, when people asked me, “Are you democrat or republican?” I might answer with: “I just call myself a Christian, but other people also call me an anarchist.” Everyone just explodes with how naive and irresponsible that is. Or sometimes how I can’t possibly be both. We go back and forth on political theory. But nobody listens. Not even me. (To my shame!)
I’ve also tried answering with, “I don’t vote.” Then I hear a chorus of “But it’s your duty as an American citizen to vote!” Or “God gave this freedom, you better use it!” I try to explain how I’d rather spend the time it takes to vote personally improving society, rather than voting for a politician to do it for me. But nobody listens. And I don’t listen to them. (To my shame!)
These conversations were never productive. So I’ve been experimenting with different approaches.
What I’ve settled on is: “I always just try to do what Jesus would do. Nothing more or less.”
Some people say, “Well, you can’t force your beliefs on everyone else.” And then I say, “Jesus didn’t, so I won’t either. I only try to make my own actions more Christ-like.”
Some people say, “Well, you’re wasting the chance to make everyone else more Christ-like.” And then I say, “Jesus didn’t force everyone else to be Christ-like, so I won’t either.”
Some people say, “Well, Jesus didn’t talk about government policies.” And then I say, “So then I don’t care about government policies.”
Some people say, “Well, somebody’s got to think about the government!” And then I say, “My faith is in Jesus, not my government. I’ll follow Jesus’s commands and trust in him to take care of the rest.”
Some people say, “Well, then how are you going to make the world a better place?” And then I say, “The same way Jesus did: sharing my food with the poor; sharing my wine with the sinners; and if necessary dieing for the people who kill me.”
These conversations are much more humbling for me. I stop trying to convince others that I’m right, and instead simply present my beliefs. Hopefully it helps others understand that I have no king but Christ.
Now I just need to figure out how to listen better…