“Many gave false testimony against him, but their testimony did not agree.”
3 “Then the chief priest began to accuse him repeatedly. 4 So Pilate asked him again, “Have you nothing to say? See how many charges they are bringing against you.” But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.”
I have been thinking about politics lately. Not the ongoing rhetoric back and forth between political candidates, but the politics of life everywhere around us.
Manners and expectations of behavior are taught to us before we can speak and are a thread throughout civilized society. We cannot escape at some point in our lives someone trying to define us. It might be accurate and there might be truth in their analysis, but more often than not the scrutiny is false testimony, formed by sanitized motives of jealousy, bitterness, or a desire to control.
Peer pressure is not just for children in school. It is politics at an early stage and is prevalent at all ages in the unspoken pressure to conform to the perceptions or behavior of people around us. In church, in families, in any group, politics are among us. As a leader, a follower, or in our relationships, a subtle influence tries to convince our behavior to be “correct” to another person’s expectations.
When others find fault in us, in humility we should consider their complaints. As a leader, there will be many suggestions regarding how we lead. Politics come into play in a benign way. People might be offering input to improve and to help. Their intentions might be pure, but when we do not choose to go with their suggestion, motives can become transparent and it just might be that they want things to be done their way.
Servant leadership considers first the principle of pleasing God and then what is best for the ones you are leading. It is impossible to please everyone and you will not be leading to do so. Jesus was surrounded by politics himself. People who thought he should conduct his ministry in a different way offered advice. People who were convicted by Him offered false testimony and maybe even began to believe it themselves.
Sometimes politics come about because of victimhood, which is commonplace today. It makes sense to the flesh. If we can blame someone else for our mistakes and be surrounded by people giving us attention because of what someone else supposedly did to us, we are not culpable. Or are we?
Blaming others is man’s way of trying to glorify self and manipulate for something we want. It is trying to make our sin okay. (I am this way because . . .) Jesus saw this in those who surrounded Him, and He offered truth. He did not answer combatively. He did not meet their demands, either.
We all have been players in the game of politics. We have judged other’s according to our own vantage point or been the recipient of said judgment. At the root of underlying politics is a needy people, searching for something or someone to meet the needs of our empty soul; trying to find life in things which were never meant to give us life. Godliness with contentment is great gain. Whatever position we are in, whatever wrongs were done to us in this life, we can choose to be a grateful people and not push others around us into a mold for our own gain.
It hurts when people we love assign us a place based on their perception, which might be rooted in their unmet desire. But the most freeing moment came to me the other day when I sensed judgment. While I wanted the opportunity to shed light and to share truth to clear up the false perception, the LORD nudged my heart and asked me, “is it biblical?” No, their pressure upon me was not based on something unbiblical in my life. Nor was their manner or complaint biblical. It was based on their unmet desire and their persistence to apply pressure upon me to acquiesce to them – it was controlling. “Let it go” was spoken to my spirit.
But what if I have been unbiblical in my behavior? Does that mean I should be shunned or dismissed? No. It means I am filled with thankfulness that I can see my shortcomings and thank God for showing me. It means I can throw myself upon his mercies and find forgiveness.
Teachability is not living for man’s acceptance. Introspection is not obsessively analyzing ourselves for perfection. We will never arrive. We are not accountable to people’s perceptions of us – only accountable to the truth and to God’s evaluation of us. Throughout our lives, politics will abound, but thinking biblically sets us free. Free to love others where they are at and to not impose our own politics, either. We are also no longer bound by man-made rules or trying to make ourselves fit into someone else’s agenda. Sure, people will still talk and people will still try to put us in a box, but through Christ we are free.
Lord, thank You for opening our eyes to see the freedom we have in You. Thank you for understanding and insight and for Your abounding mercy which never fails when we are the ones at fault.