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The Square Peg and The Round Hole

The Square Peg and The Round Hole

You certainly know the old saying: You can’t put a square peg into a round hole. This idiom was created by a man named Sydney Smith as part of a lecture series that he delivered in the early 1800s at the Royal Institution on the topic of moral philosophy. Since that time, the expression has come to be used in a lot of different contexts. Some of the more common usages include:

  • Identifying a person who doesn't fit into society’s norm
  • Finding yourself in a situation that doesn't suit you
  • Trying to do something that you don't know how to do
  • Identifying someone who is not capable of accomplishing the job or task they are doing
  • Being out of your depth or comfort zone in a given situation

But there is another application that fits into the situation we find ourselves in as Christians these days. The values that the Bible teaches, and that we as Christians strive to follow, don’t always fit neatly into the values that dominate modern society. This is particularly true when dealing with politics. While Christian values do parallel the dominant values found in certain political parties and don’t correspond with others, there is no political party, or party platform, that corresponds exactly to the priorities of the Bible. The priority of our Christian faith truly is a square peg that does not fit into society’s round hole.

The places where Christian values and a political party’s values can possibly correspond relate primarily to the way we express them on a temporal level out in the world. Every political party platform has some value system that it expresses, and it expresses its values through policies that relate to such topics as life, liberty, economics, healthcare, criminal justice, environment, immigration, national defense, and family. As we look at the way the different political parties conceive of these topics, we can compare that to the teachings of the Bible and judge whether or not they match up. In America, in most cases, the party platform of the Republican Party reflects biblical values much more closely than that of the Democrat Party.

But at this point, we must make a careful distinction. The fact is, neither party reflects the actual priorities of the Bible. There is a difference between reflecting “values” and reflecting “priorities.” Of course, the importance of reflecting values is certainly not trivial. For example, a nation that operates based on biblical values will respect life in a way that will not be seen using non-biblical values. Using another example, a nation the operates based on biblical values will result in individuals having liberty (in many areas of life) that will not happen in a place dominated by non-biblical values. It is the values upon which a society is founded that determine the nature of the political and moral environment within which its people live. Because of that, values are important, and Christians should be active in promoting the acceptance of biblical values as a foundation for society.

That said, the priorities of the Bible are not focused on temporal society. The Bible’s priorities are spiritual and eternal. God’s very purpose for creating man and putting him in a created natural universe was to provide the opportunity for the establishment of a personal relationship between Himself and human individuals. A society based on biblical values provides the best environment for that to happen. And while creating that environment is important, it is still a secondary priority. The most important priority is to provide for the relationship itself between God and individuals.

For that reason, God provided a means by which this relationship could happen. And to facilitate that priority, He determined that man should partner with Him to share the message about how the people in society can know Him.

So, as Christians, we definitely should be involved in promoting Christian values in society. In America, we can do that by being involved in the political process. But our highest priority should be God’s priority – to lead people into a personal relationship with Him. It is not an either/or proposition – we need to do both. But in order to make that happen, every believer must put him or herself in a position to do it – both by becoming equipped for the task, and by intentionally putting ourselves in a position to share the message with others. Until we do these things, we are not making God’s priorities our own.

Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.

You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.

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Freddy Davis


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