My least favorite time period occurs every four years during September and October. Those are the months leading up to another Presidential election. My distaste is slightly mitigated by the start of college and pro football but I still detest those weeks.
Why? Because those weeks are when normally nice and civil human beings become angry, hateful, bile spewing, frothing defenders of their politics. Ridiculous motives are assigned to people for committing the apparently unpardonable sin of looking through different political lenses. Hateful (and almost always courageously anonymous) posts are left accusing their opponents of everything from hate to stupidity to treason. The tone of our political discourse is depressing. On television the techniques most often used are more volume and interruption instead of thoughtfulness and exchange of ideas.
This is particularly tricky for followers of Jesus. Of course our faith directs our decision making (or it should). But does that allow us to demonize those who think differently? Yesterday my pastor at Waterbrook Bible Fellowship, Jeff Denton, delivered a powerful message about the body of Christ. He pointed out that a lot of people we profoundly disagree with or are that we are even repulsed by are a part of the body of Christ. That is so inconvenient to my working up a good unrighteous indignation. We don’t get to pick who gets the gift of grace. If there are websites in Heaven there might be surprised headlines like this…
Drudgereport: Planned Parenthood Leader Amazingly Sneaks Through the Pearly Gates!
Huffington Post: Tea Party Enthusiast’s Name Somehow Found in Book of Life!
The separation of church and faith is Jesus and the Cross. People on both sides of the aisle are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Because my heart is to proclaim the healing message of grace I have stopped expressing any of my political views in my writings. It was a hard lesson learned in my first book. I tried to use a political situation to illustrate a point. Bad idea. Really bad idea. Some on the other side of that political situation attacked me and dismissed the other 57,287 words completely.
Let me assure you that I remain diligent in reading (both sides) and researching to see which candidates reflect my values. I vote in every election. I pray for our leaders and I hope that someday we will be able to throw out the extreme partisanship and forge a consensus for our country. But my real hope is not in Washington or in my state capital.
My hope is in you lord, all the day long
I won't be shaken by drought or storm
A peace that passes, understanding is my song and I sing
My hope is in You alone
I wait for You and my soul finds rest
In my selfishness You show me grace
My hope is in you lord, all the day long
The last campaign brilliantly used hope and change as a campaign theme. I agree with the slogan but with a little different emphasis. My hope is in Christ. And the change that I can count on is what happened in heart when I decided to follow Jesus. That change should manifest itself in grace filled responses to those who think differently. On the other side they say “believe in America” and “reclaim America”. My heart cries out to believe in the grace of God. I want to reclaim the Gospel of love and serving others selflessly.
What makes me most sad is that so many people really seem to be placing their hope for happiness on a political candidate. I do believe that leaders make a difference. I care deeply about making an informed and prayerful choice. But I never place my hope in a politician. The word hope is used about 80 times in the New Testament. The first appearance of the word in the NIV translation pretty much lays out my belief.
“In his name (Jesus) the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12, NIV)
Paul wrote about the hope that I have in his letter to the Romans.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Colossians we read this praise from Paul as he relates how hope based on the eternal God should make a difference.
For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.
No matter what happens this November one thing will remain true for me.
My hope is in Christ.
So be nice to your political opponent. Extend grace. Who knows, they may be behind you in line at the Pearly Gates someday. Love your political enemies and avoid future awkward moments because it will be really hard to avoid someone for eternity.