“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” I Peter 3:15,16 (NIV)
The Apostle Peter is depicting a great scene at your workplace: Christ is your only Lord. You’re ready to talk about Him any time you get the chance.
You’re accosted at the water cooler by a co-worker who wants to know what’s wrong with you: “Why are you so hopeful?” “Why are you so optimistic?” “What are you taking? I think I want some!”
With a love-motivated concern to not hurt or insult your friend unnecessarily while sharing the “bad news” portion of the good news, you joyfully spill out the wonderful story of Jesus’ love.
It’s a great picture isn’t it? Can this happen to you? Absolutely.
What will mess it up? A number of things could ruin that scene, but one of the most common today, is, in a word, politics.
The word “hope” in the passage can be understood in either of two ways: (1) the sum and substance of our future expectations (our eschatological hope) or (2) the emotional fringe benefit of our faith. I like to call it “joy, borrowed from the future.”
1. When Christians ally themselves with political figures, movements and parties, non-Christians are offended.
Some will assume that you agree with all the viewpoints of well-known political figures or movements. Others will assume that you approve of the often sordid lifestyles of these individuals. They associate our wondrous gospel and our awesome God with political leaders they despise.
They are offended by us, not because of our gospel – which is the only reason they should be offended by us – but because of our political bedfellows.
2. When Christians ally themselves with political figures, movements and parties, non-Christians are confused.
What is the gospel? What does it mean to be a Jesus follower? We need to keep this simple and pure. The kingdom we are building is not a kingdom of this world.
Of course believing the Bible and following Jesus has implications for our views on government and politics, but the key word here is “implications.” Our gospel is not a right wing gospel or a left wing gospel. Jesus could not be sucked into such arguments, and we shouldn’t be either if we care about non-Christian people.
The great problem with the non-Christian person at work who holds the “wrong” political views is not his or her political views. Even if you succeeded in converting this person to your political views, how important would that be compared to the importance of introducing this person to Jesus?
Sadly, there are people in America today who believe that to become a Christian is to buy into a political persuasion which they loathe.
3. The political climate in our nation today is so polarized and polarizing that aligning ourselves with political viewpoints closes the ears of our potential hearers.
I want the people in my secular workplace to associate me with Jesus and Jesus with me. There’s a stigma involved in that of course, and I understand that stigma to be a great honor.
I don’t give a fig about whether they ever vote for the same people I vote for.