Wading into politics is a dangerous business.
It seems no matter what stance you take today, someone else derides it as unchristian. From immigration to law enforcement, executive orders to healthcare, we have no shortage of potentially friendship-ending conversations to be had.
But what if our discussion of politics can actually have a Biblical edge? What if we’re supposed to actually let our faith inform our politics? What if we as Christians should be more engaged in the political discourse instead of excusing ourselves from the political table?
King Solomon has spent a lot of time writing about politics in this section of Ecclesiastes. We find in Ecclesiastes 10:16-20
16 Woe to the land whose king was a servant and whose princes feast in the morning.17 Blessed is the land whose king is of noble birth and whose princes eat at a proper time—for strength and not for drunkenness. 18 Through laziness, the rafters sag; because of idle hands, the house leaks. 19 A feast is made for laughter, wine makes life merry, and money is the answer for everything. 20 Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird in the sky may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.
Ending his writing about our interactions with politicians, King Solomon offers us these final warnings. If these verses remind us of nothing else, they remind us of the uncertainty of politics.
Since the election of Donald Trump to the highest office in our land, it’s been interesting to watch news outlets on both sides of the political spectrum express surprise that he’s a politician that is, for better or worse, doing what he campaigned to do.
This isn’t what we Americans are used to in our politicians. We’re used to politicians playing us like cheap fiddles by saying whatever the thing we want to hear, and then getting into office and doing nothing but more of the same.
Isn’t that how it seems?
This is part of what the Teacher is observing too. Politics are unpredictable, yet we are profoundly affected by it.
Then there’s the counsel of verse 20 really helping to bring these verses into focus: Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird in the sky may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.
Most likely, we get our expression “a little birdy told me” from this verse. Basically, it’s a warning that the words we use have a way of coming back and biting us in the padding the good Lord gave us for sitting on.
As Christians, it can really hurt our witness when we criticize politicians unjustly. While most of us are not in danger of our President’s Secret Service coming to shut us up, the dangers to our Gospel testimony can be just as detrimental.
Think back to how many Christians criticized President Obama for his golfing vacations. Now, some of those same Christians defend President Trump’s golfing trips. That “flip flop” reflects on the Gospel because if non-Christians expect anything from us, they expect us (of all people!) to be honest. (For the record, I’ve never had a problem with presidents having recreation. Study after study has shown our bodies and minds are not designed to run non-stop for seven days straight. No wonder God set aside a day for Sabbath rest.)
As Solomon ends his writing about politics, may we pause to consider how our statements about presidents, senators, and representatives reflect on Jesus. Perhaps they need to be called out by the citizens. Perhaps we as Christians need to speak up for injustice.
But whatever we choose to do out of Holy Spirit driven conviction, may we saturate our language and actions with that which is pleasing to our Savior and use our privilege as citizens to bring the Kingdom of God here on Earth.