I could tell you that I haven’t written because I had no time for blogging during the holidays, and early this year my blog had technical issues. Those things did actually happen. But the real reason for my silence is that I have had something to say for months now but haven’t been able to find the words.
A lot has changed in the country since I last wrote, and it probably sounds like old news for me to bring up the election, but that’s what I’m going to do. For this blog post, though, I won’t be expressing my own personal feelings around the candidates because if I did, it would be hard for some of you to hear what I have to say…
It may seem like America is falling down around our ears, and it is difficult to tune out the celebrities’ commentaries on the last few months and the news anchors’ prophecies on the next four years, but I feel like all those extraneous voices are a distraction from a far more serious problem within the church.
Christians, we have to face the facts: a huge number of believers voted for one candidate, and a huge number of believers voted for the other candidate. And, after the election was over, the church became a very divided body.
As I watched the aftermath of the election blowing up on social media, I was dumbfounded, astonished and confused by the words being hurled back and forth…by believers. It scared me. So much bitterness and anger and spite. So little trusting in God.
There are a number of people that I love and respect who voted differently than me. Believers who voted their conscience by spending time praying that God would show them how to vote, and then voting accordingly.
We were praying to the same Jesus Christ, weren’t we? We have the same Holy Spirit living inside of us, don’t we? So why did we vote so differently? Why are so many of us divided politically?
I don’t have answers to those questions, but I do believe I have reached a conclusion as to how I should respond. And, it’s not with hateful words of dissension.
Y’all, we must respect the Holy Spirit in our brothers and sisters; believers who were asking for the Lord’s leading when they stepped into their local polling place. We have to believe that He has a path for them to walk, and that it’s okay for it to look differently than our own. We have to acknowledge that their issues of concern are legitimate and real, and that we should try to understand them better. But, above all, we must respect the Holy Spirit within them.
Right before He left earth, the disciples were questioning Jesus about the fates that lay ahead for each of them. Peter saw John and said, ‘”Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!'” (John 21: 20-22)
I have thought of that Bible verse a lot during this season, and recognized it as an appropriate position to take when we question why Christ leads a fellow Christian differently…It doesn’t matter what Christ intends for someone else, we should focus on our own path! Granted, this could get sticky if I don’t state the obvious: When we sin, Christ is not the one leading us to do so. But we’re not talking about committing sin, we’re talking about voting based on our understanding of political issues.
Christ also said to His followers, “‘By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) We could have an abundance of love for non-believers, the poor, the needy, and the homeless, but if we are bad-mouthing our fellow Christians, we are not representing Christ as we should.
Now, to anyone thinking, “But, what about the issues,” we don’t have to surrender our positions on the issues, but we can’t let them distract us from our duty as Christians to honor our brothers and sisters. The world is watching our country right now. This is a chance for the world to look at the church in America and see a group of imperfect people choosing to love each other because we share a bond in Christ, not people whose faith wasn’t strong enough to unify them in their differences. What do you want them to see?
I, for one, would rather people look away during the next four years if we can’t figure out how to love each other well.
God has a purpose and a plan for these events, and it will all be for good. He is still in control, and He’s the only one holding all the cards. We can trust Him. Let’s not waste this opportunity to demonstrate our trust. Let’s choose to live calmly in the midst of the world’s chaos, and peacefully in the midst of dissension. We are a family. No matter what.