How do you think God would do in a political debate?
One take is that He would be awesome and dominating. Every time He would speak there would be thunder and lightning and no one would care what anyone else had to say. I have to admit, I can see that scenario playing out.
But I think there’s another view that’s also entirely possible. What if God chose to speak with no special effects? How do you think He would do under those circumstances?
I don’t think He would do so well. It wouldn’t have anything to do with understanding and articulating the issues—no one would come close to Him. The problem would be that in campaigning and debating candidates have been known to say what they think their audience wants to hear and take stances that will ingratiate them to voters. In this kind of climate, truth can become a rare commodity as well as a political liability.
Of course, God wouldn’t look at it that way. He would speak the truth because He is the truth. People wouldn’t appreciate that because we’ve been conditioned to hearing something more flattering. After all, while the truth will set us free, it will first challenge us and sometimes even make us miserable.
Putting ourselves in the role of voters for a moment, it’s worth asking ourselves how we approach God’s truth as found in Scripture—what do we expect to hear? Do we allow our experiences to shape how we understand of God’s word or do we allow His word to shape how we understand our experiences?
The question is an important one because it has to do with our willingness to truly hear God’s truth. In the first, we bend the Scripture to fit us like an electorate demanding its potential leaders to say only pleasant and soothing things. In the latter, we humble ourselves before God’s word, allowing it to shatter our illusions and sift our hearts.
As you might expect, how we hear Scripture is a fundamental matter that Jesus spoke to often during His ministry. One of His best-known parables is about the different ways in which people receive God’s word (Matthew 13). He taught that man doesn’t live by bread alone but “on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (4:4). Even more to the point, Jesus modeled this attitude in His life. He lived in such a way as to fulfill the ideal of Scripture, through His teaching and His actions (5:17). When Satan tempted Him in the wilderness, He responded each time by going to the Scripture. His last words came from Scripture (Luke 23:46/Psalm 31:5). There was no doubt about where Jesus stood in regard to allowing God’s truth to shape every facet of His life.
There shouldn’t be any doubt for His disciples either (John 8:31-32).