Dear Church Family,
What a couple of days it has been. Over the past 72 hours, we have gone from many polls seemingly pointing to a huge win for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the General Election over Republican nominee Donald Trump, to a November surprise on election day that showed Trump beating Clinton. If you are anything like me, you probably stayed up and watched the coverage, simply to follow the drama of it all and see how everything would turn out. What a night, filled with emotions of joy for those who were supporting Trump/Pence and emotions of sadness for those who were backing Clinton/Kaine. Some are incredibly optimistic about the next four years for our country, while others wait in horror for what they expect to be a time of national misery.
Add to all of this the fact that we now have social media, which means that we can immediately post our thoughts, our concerns and our “expertise” at a moment’s notice, without necessarily thinking through not only what we are saying, but the impact that it may have on our readers. Church family, it is getting ugly out there. People are making various claims with no basis of understanding (Trump voters are all uneducated bigots who don’t care for minorities, women and the LGBTQ communities/Hillary voters don’t care about babies and want to be able to kill them up until delivery). These sorts of blanket statements are being made so carelessly, causing a stronger divide than what was already in place. The winners are gloating while the losers are reacting out of fear and anger. We as a people tend to speak out of a worst case scenario mindset (e.g. minorities, women, and others will have to live in fear over the next four years). It simply seems like tensions have reached a boiling point. It is something we have been dealing with for years now, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Healing is lacking from both ends of the political spectrum.
So how are we, the Church, supposed to act? What does it look like, in the midst of all of this, to be a City on a Hill, that gives light and peace to a world filled with fear and turmoil? Here are a few thoughts that might start us moving in the right direction:
Please understand that we find ourselves in a unique moment of our history. It can be difficult for Christians to differentiate ourselves from the world around us, and yet we have just been served a moment in time where the difference can be huge. Our society, at the moment, is engaging in a brutal war of words and philosophy. Hate is quickly being spread by supporters of both political parties through name-calling, oversimplification of complex issues, and sometimes flat out dishonesty. If you, as a follower of Christ, have ever looked for an opportunity to be different from your surroundings, you may be finding yourself in such a situation right now! So take advantage. Live and speak in such a way that you will be set apart from that what is going on around you. Instead of hate, spread love. Instead of tearing down, build up and encourage. Instead of drawing lines of division, look to accept those who differ from you. By doing this, Christ will be glorified in you and people will take notice, not of you, but of the God you worship and represent!
Know your limitations. Something that I am seeing from a lot of younger students, both in high school and college (and from some adults as well), is an attitude of omniscience. This means that they leave little room for doubt in their own beliefs and also that they believe that they know the inner workings of the minds of others. They make claims that they know exactly why someone would vote for a particular candidate and cannot imagine that they could be wrong in their knowledge. Please know that only God is omniscient. This means that God alone truly knows the motivations and reasons behind a person’s behavior. I cannot state why someone would vote for Trump or for Clinton because these are complex decisions that involve many different motivations that go into a person’s choice. So it would be best for us to completely avoid acting as though we have any inkling of an idea as to why people made the choice that they made. To claim that someone voted Republican because they don’t care about people of color, or to claim that someone voted Democrat because they don’t have a job and want to collect welfare shows a lack of maturity, not only in life, but in faith as well. So know your limitations and avoid making claims that you cannot prove.
Please do not discount fears and concerns. A lot of folks are truly terrified of where our country will be going over the next few years, and they have every right to be nervous. I cannot say what a woman should feel if she believes her incoming president disrespects women. I cannot say what a Muslim ought to feel is he believes that our incoming president wants to limit his rights as a citizen of our country. Recognize the fears of others rather than dismissing them. These fears will often become a gateway for some incredible conversations! Look to discuss rather than dismiss.
Please be sensitive in your comments, likes and shares. I know that this seems crazy, but the fact that you “like” a particular post of Facebook can speak volumes to someone about what you believe or support. As soon as someone sees you liking a status that is filled with hate, sarcasm or bigotry, they will immediately believe that you support such things. To go along with this, we should most likely limit some of our statements that are over-simplistic and only cause division. “He’s not my president,” is not only untrue, but extremely divisive in a time when healing is needed. “See you later Obama,” does nothing to advance any sort of kindness to those who might legitimately miss our current president. Be careful about what you post, comment, like and share.
Finally, have some hope, and be sure to share your hope. First of all, know that God is in control, even when it seems like he is not. Read through your Old Testament, through some of the prophets who were tasked with speaking to Israel and Judah, and you will find that God was moving the chess pieces of the world even though it seemed to His people that He was nowhere to be found. I know that many people did not like this election, and felt that God could never use either of the two major presidential candidates. And yet, God has used and will use leaders to bring about His will for our world. Place your hope in the fact that God’s Kingdom remains intact though worldly kingdoms collapse as dust. You may find it to be easier to doubt, but God is at work in our lives, and for that reason alone, we as followers of Christ must remain hopeful.
Again, please recognize the weight of the situation in which our church family finds itself. The world is lacking hope, and as a result are lashing out at one another. You have the ability to calm nerves, to restore hope, to reach out in love and kindness, and to spread the joy of Christ, a joy that will not be removed by the situations of our world. Would you devote yourselves to praying for our nation? This includes praying for our outgoing president and his administration, praying for our incoming president and his coming administration, praying for those who are living in fear, praying for a nation which is seemingly torn in two, and praying for all of those who do not see eye to eye with you.
You are called to be Christ, to bring peace. May we all go out of our way in order to extend such peace to others. Romans 12:18 states, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Will you take this challenge seriously? Will you swallow your pride in order to hear others and accept those with whom you disagree? If so, you will exhibit the love of Christ amid a time of great hardship.
I’m praying for all of you and am so blessed to be a part of our church family.