If you’re like me, you’re probably grateful that the US presidential election is history. For Americans and even Canadians this seems to have been a more hotly debated process than any other that I can remember.
It seems that through media, social and television, the election has been front and center for years not just months leading up to the events of last Tuesday.
I don’t typically spend a lot of time focused on politics but even I stayed up past 2am to watch the election unfold. I wasn’t rooting for either candidate but I was intrigued by the process itself.
I understand that many people are actively involved in politics and have very strong ideas and opinions. People from both sides of the aisle have been very vocal about “their” candidate and about their opponent. This election seemed to focus more on character than policies and from an outsider looking in, it appeared that neither party candidate was ideal. I do wonder what it means when only half of registered voters actually voted.
But what really stood out to me has been seeing how disagreement lead to hatred. The disdain that people expressed toward the other side was severe. And I just have to wonder, to what end.
From my vantage point the election process looked more like a civil war than a political process. And the result will be a lot of pain and carnage. The level of name calling, labelling groups of people, divisive positions, fear mongering and outright hate was unprecedented, at least in my life time.
Now we are hearing things like, “It’s time to unite and come together as a nation.” But how realistic is that given the level of the divisive, hatred expressed…not just toward the candidates but toward anyone who followed the candidate. It seems that the social, racial, economic and political lines have become walls.
It’s hard to go out for a coffee and have a civil conversation with someone you just punched in the face.
My fear is that the harmful effects of the election process will only serve to entrench political positions and make bridging social, economic, racial and political differences virtually impossible.
But what has concerned me even more than how the opposing sides have engaged in this election, is seeing how Christians have jumped on board.
You may not be a Christian…but for those of us who are, I think we have been called to be different. Or as Darren Hardy says,
Jesus’ own disciples were hoping he would introduce a new political system; one where the Jewish nation would thrive and not be under Roman rule. Instead, Jesus introduced a new movement; one that was open to anyone who wanted to be a part of it. One that was rooted in love; love for God and love one another.
In fact, the first-century Church was under the rule of Nero, a brutal dictator. But nowhere in scripture are we encouraged to level such a political system; instead we are commanded to share the good news, that Jesus loves them…everyone.
How can Christians hate anyone? I don’t know…but much of what I read and heard over the past months has been troubling. We are called to be different…to be the exception.
This past Sunday at my church, we were reminded of the story of Jesus calling Matthew to “follow him”; Matthew a tax collector and one who would have been despised by society was being invited into a relationship with the son of God.
What did Jesus do? He went to Matthew’s home for dinner. Imagine that. While the religious leaders looked down their noses and slammed Jesus for eating with “sinners and the scum of society” he got closer to them.
Of course Jesus routinely “broke the cultural rules of the day” by breaking down the barriers that prevented people from seeing the love and life that God was offering.
Isn’t that what we are called to do to as well?
I appreciate that people have passionate political positions but it has been disheartening to see Christians embrace the hurtful, harmful and hateful rhetoric of this election. We had an opportunity and still do, to stand and offer an alternative.
Whether you’re a republican or democrat, conservative, or liberal…maybe we can be defined by something even more profound, more powerful.
We’re called to love our neighbors, not hate them. Even the ones we don’t agree with.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:29,31-32
We’re called to honour authority
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:1-2
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24
After all, our hope will never be found in a president or prime minister.