Today is election day, and it seems like the whole world is freaking out. But, before you jump off the emotional cliff, as Christ followers, let’s take a step back.
First, let’s recognize that we have bought into our media’s scaremongering.
What I mean by “our media” is that each side no longer listens to news outlets that dissent from their own political worldview. And because of this, we have made the other side into characters. If you have Democrat leanings and are informed by mainstream news outlets you are convinced that Trump is basically Hitler and that his supporters are racist, bigots, homophobic rubes who want to make America white again. And if you have Republican leanings and informed by rightwing outlets and online media, you are convinced that the Democrats are Antifa without masks, a crazy mob of socialists, intersectional baby killers. What is a Christian to do?
Second, remember that we are followers of Christ first.
For many of us, politics has become our civic religion. We have dogma, true believers, and heretics. We think that our hope is based on politicians. This could not be further from the truth. Politics is a cynical intramural cult that pits people against each other and rarely makes the lives of the poor and oppressed better. If anything, elections just enrich the political class, leaving common people at rallies behind.
This is not the way of Christ. I love how Paul gives us a solid application to Jesus’ command to love others the way He loved us. In Ephesians 4:29-32, Paul gives us a good word for today, and for the days following as we all digest whatever the outcome is:
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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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 Christ God forgave you.
Third, don’t define each other by the other person’s worst moments.
This third point comes from my pastor who always reminds me how frail each of us is. We all say and do dumb things, yet all have a pretty high self-estimation. So, let us not define each other by the worst possible moments or statements, but see each other in the best light possible. Oh, man! Could you imagine if we intentionally worked to see each other in the best light? If we put on the lens of Christ and saw one another as having the highest value and dignity as being made in the image of Christ. As making space for the unique backstory and perspective that is different than yours and sought to understand rather than dehumanize and tear down.
Today and for the next few weeks, our media outlets will raise the rhetoric even higher, if that is even possible. As a follower of Christ, don’t go there. Rather, let us take off our dirty rags, our dehumanizing language, our fear mongering, our judgementalism, and let us put on the clothing of Christ and let us view our political opponents through the lens of Christ. You will know you have done this well when you can imagine people on the other side of the aisle, and the politicians that lead that side as humans, not a caricature, but even in their best light.
Yikes, could you imagine? Looks like we all have some spiritual work to do. So, let us not be fearful of the work, or be addicted to the rage and adrenaline of the chaos, but let us be peacemakers, for that is our calling.
We don’t serve our political masters, we serve the one whose kingdom is not of this world, the true King of King and Lord of Lord, Jesus the Christ.