Politicians may be the most despised people on the planet today. It’s quite fashionable to trash them and it is socially acceptable. But is it right for a Christian?

I get a ton of grief on Facebook when I ever defend someone with whom the majority of evangelicals disagree. For instance, even posting “Pray for the President” elicits angry comments from normally very nice Christian people. Or at times I’ve defended politicians over what I considered cheap shots. I’ve been called liberal, soft. Even a few friends have said, “Dan you’ve really become liberal.” What’s funny is that my personal political convictions are very conservative, but I just don’t hate politicians who see it a different way. So that makes me liberal, I guess.

I don’t always get this right and sometimes I descend into the easy and cheap joke at a public figure’s expense. And I’ve been guilty of posting or sending information about someone that is less than true.

But for a Christian, we have to ask ourselves, is politics the one are where we are allowed to just say what we want about someone? I dont’ think so. I think the Bible is pretty clear on the way we should approach our leaders. With respect  and honor (1 Peter 2:17). We’re to pray for them (1 Timothy 2:2). And we’re to recognize that their office was given them by God (Romans 13).

I’m also intrigued by Jesus’ own behavior toward politicians. He put one of the most despised on his own team of disciples. Matthew was a tax collector, someone who, in those days, was even more despised than our current politicians. Yet Jesus loved him and Matthew became a writer of one of the gospels.

American Christians should be involved in the political process. Being a good, informed, involved citizen is a part of being a good and faithful Christian. But how we go about it is important. It’s easy to get sucked into the mockery and disdain and name-calling so prevalent on both sides. I read some political blogs or Facebook posts by purported Christians and scratch my head. Have they read the book of James? Do they know Philippines 4:8? Or have we made politics a special zone where the Scriptures don’t apply?

Some will say, “Oh, Dan, you live in a dream world.” And maybe I do. But aren’t we as Christians called to be different? Aren’t we called to carry ourselves in the public square with wisdom and winsomeness and love? This doesn’t mean we don’t make firm arguments for or against policy. Doesn’t mean we have to compromise our values. But it also means we shouldn’t be jerks. Even in the political arena when everyone else is doing it. It means we see people, even politicians with whom we disagree, as people worthy of respect and honor and dignity.

In politics, being nice is considered a weakness. But a Christian is called to be a light in this world, to love the unlovable.

Even when the unlovable are politicians.