The election is finally over, but the conciliatory remarks from both sides have done little to alleviate the pain, distrust, frustration and feelings of powerlessness in our communities. The politicians minimize, and even trivialize, the eighteen-month vitriolic struggle with phrases like, “hard fought battle,” as they now call for national unity.
I wonder how many normal people believe that a year and a half of vicious accusations, innuendo and name calling can be simply wiped away by the wave of a hand and a few kind words.
While some celebrate, some mourn and others are conflicted, we the people continue to be divided along political, racial, economic, and philosophical lines. These will not easily go away by reaching across the aisle and saying, “you fought a good campaign.” They will not, and indeed cannot, be addressed with sound bites and partial truths. While we should continue to pray for our governmental authorities (1 Timothy 2:1-3), we should and must do much more.
The very divisions that many (I think most) of us crave to see disappear are, in fact, central to the tactics and strategies of the political elites. These wielders of power talk a lot about the neighbor next door, but spend their private time developing strategies aimed at stereo-typed demographic groups. Strategies that – at their core – are designed to divide and fragment.
As people of faith, we must understand that the very nature of politics is antithetical to the mission of the Church. Politics seeks to divide; to pit one group against another; to win at all cost; to destroy the opposition. While it may give us a warm-fuzzy to believe the rhetoric that we are all Americans rallied under the banner of the American flag, reality finds that banner being burned in the streets by those who feel disenfranchised and betrayed.
Conversely, the church is ordered to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, do good to those who hate us, bless them that curse us, and pray for those who mistreat us. (Matt 5:44, Luke 6:28)
It is imperative that the Church rise up in fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer for us,
“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one… I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth… My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17: 11-23)
I fully understand that we do not always see eye-to-eye on the cultural and political issues of our day. Since its inception, there has always been a place in the house of God to discuss and even debate our understanding of faith and how it should be lived out within the moment we live. I am also convinced that we will accomplish very little if we continue the two extremes: 1. Act like we don’t have political differences within the walls of the Church. 2. Scream at each other with partial facts and gotcha points like political commentators.
The Bible is clear that we are to sit in judgment over disagreements within the church (1 Corinthians 6:1-3). This exhortation not only applies to doctrinal issues but other aspects of life as well. It begins with conversation. I want to hear your point of view and your personal story. I hope you want to hear mine. I have a feeling we might agree about the core truths a lot more than we think.