As we proclaim Christ to our post-Truth culture, we will undoubtedly meet opposition. But in this culture characterized by mudslinging, we must be careful to check our own hearts. Our pride is the greatest hindrance in our quest to effectively share the Gospel.
We witness mudslinging almost every day in the political realm as candidates attempt to discredit their opponents with endless accusations. Every election cycle is a character-smearing spectacle as rivals hurl insults at one another rather than discussing the issues at hand. And it doesn't matter if the insults are true—it only matters if people feel like they are.
In this age of division and rage, how are Christians called to live differently?
Social media is another hotbed for mudslinging. It seems like the worst of our judgmental, unloving, and ungracious sinful nature emerges when we interact online. Suddenly, a simple status update becomes a platform for attack in which we tear others down to gain a point rather than seeking to build meaningful, God-honoring relationships. Standing for Truth becomes about being right—and winning the argument—at any cost.In this age of division and rage, how are Christians called to live differently? The answer is simple, but profoundly difficult to live out: We must daily battle our own self-righteousness.
Amidst the moral and spiritual decline of our culture, it can be easy for us to become prideful—believing we are better than others because we know the Truth. But what do we have that we have not received? God's Word assures us that our only boast is Christ: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
All of us—yes, even believers who know and love the Lord—struggle with pride at some point. In this way, we are much more like our ideological opponents than we realize. We, too, are blind to our sinful nature unless the Lord causes the scales to fall from our eyes. We, too, need the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to change us from within and save us from ourselves.
While our pride puffs us up, provoking us to set others straight as though we are better, this attitude is certainly not loving or humble like the attitude of Jesus Christ (see Philippians 2:3-11). How do we quiet the self-righteousness that rises up in our flesh, endangering our relationships? We must remember that Christ is our righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 5:21); His gift of salvation is unmerited; His mercy toward sinners like us is unparalleled. The Gospel has the power to humble us so that we put away all symptoms of pride and self-righteousness, like sarcasm, a critical spirit, impatience, or disdain, and instead live by the Spirit as ambassadors for Christ (see Galatians 5:22-26).
Our ideological opponents are not our enemies in this war—Satan is. The person in front of you is the prize—an eternal soul who will spend eternity apart from Jesus Christ if they do not come to the knowledge of the Truth.
Therefore, it is imperative that we exhibit Christlike compassion and mercy as we stand for Truth. Our goal is not to demoralize our opponent through mudslinging, but to win them to Christ through love. Only complete dependence on the Holy Spirit can allow us to do so.
As we seek to love, our opponents will most likely continue the mudslinging, perhaps calling us bigoted or unloving or backward. When you hear such arguments, remember what the Lord has spoken to us: "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11). See past their misinformed anger and share the Truth, saying:
I want you to know the Lord who redeemed me, the Lord who died for me. He rose from the dead so that you might experience forgiveness of sin and eternal joy.
If we find our righteousness in Jesus Christ rather than ourselves, we can exhibit such love by His grace, building others up rather than tearing them down—even under fire.