By: Jana Greene
I never thought I’d see the day. As I grow older, I realize there are a lot of days I thought I’d never see. The hatred and offense and mud-slingery and seething anger – those things usually reserved for the political candidates themselves – somehow bequeathed to We the Constituents with ardent fervor. It’s never been uglier.
First, let me open with this:
I will not unfriend you on Facebook if you vote for Trump. I won’t even unfriend you if you vote for Hillary. I will not real-life break up a friendship with you if you lean left or right at an angle that offends me. I will not judge your worth as a human being by a ballot choice. I will really try not to browbeat people with my independent opinions. I will really, really make an effort to respect you no matter what.
Because you are a person my Jesus loves completely – beyond borders and elephants and donkeys. And truly we have more in common than we disagree on.
But I think we need to take a hard look at the fruits of our righteous passion as a result of the political climate:
Anger.…venomous, destructive hateful talk.
Unrest….racial, political, ideological.
Ugliness toward one another….even within families.
It’s (dare I say?) an implosion of Biblical proportions, what’s going on in our country – in the whole world.
But you have strong feelings, you say?
- It’s OBVIOUS that Candidate X is an egotistical, misogynist, mean-spirited, blowhard.
- It’s JUST as obvious that Candidate Y is murderous, deceptive, mercenary she-devil.
See? I have strong feelings TOO!
In years past, candidates got ugly with one another and it only hurt their efforts, whereas now we kind of expect vile, scandalous, and sometimes criminal flaws in our candidates. Worse, in a kind of trickle-down discontent, John Q. Public is drawn into the fray, tearing down others in his own community in the name of being right.
The question I pose – the question I have to keep asking myself – is this: Which is higher in value? Rightness or relationship? When I value being ‘right,’ more, it could lead me to take any number of drastic actions:
- I could break relationship with those miscreants who don’t see life exactly the way I do. That’ll show ’em!
- I could threaten to move to another country, a place where harmony reigns supreme and everyone treats everyone with respect and honor. Except such a place does not exist here on earth.
- I could make the announcement in ALL CAPS on my Facebook wall that IF YOU ARE VOTING FOR (fill in the blank) JUST UNFRIEND ME NOW. But then I remember how diverse and varied my friends are and how very much I LOVE that diversity and value those friendships.
People are more than their political positions.
And that’s where this gets spiritual, because Jesus was so inclusive in His love. He was so good at seeing the PERSON underneath the dogma or circumstance.
People bring their baggage and their hopes and their priorities to the table every time they talk politics.
When I start letting my very sincere perception of injustice allow me to hate other people, I am missing the mark. And, just so you know, I HAVE done just that on numerous occasions. My flesh rather favors this method of threshing the wheat from the chaff. I have to catch myself.
We all have strong feelings, and for some reason, this generation has determined that everyone MUST take his/her feelings into consideration.
Keep in mind that no-one’s mind has ever been changed by a Facebook post. No, not even the really witty ones, or the fact-laden ones, or the ones featuring the carnage of war or abortion.
Keep in mind that most people who are fervent supporters of either X or Y love their country, too, and really, truly believe that their guy (or gal) can fix what’s wrong with America. Again, I don’t get it, but hey – it’s okay that others disagree.
I am going on record as saying NONE of the candidates can “fix” America. That’s God’s job, but He will not interfere if uninvited to finding solutions. That being said, I think we are pretty much screwed politically, but God is still on the throne and I know the end of the story – the rest is just bullsh*t.
So. Much. Bullsh*t.
Each person with a strong opinion (however variant to mine) is a person Jesus deeply loves. Yes, EVEN the candidates – he loves them, too! Don’t ask me why – I do not find them lovable in the LEAST, but He is pretty clear about the love thing. He doesn’t stutter.
Why? Because He recognized that people are more than their positions.
We are only visitors here. We’re here to learn to love God and learn how to love one another. This is an especially difficult season to do so. If everyone were loving and lovable, we wouldn’t need to be students on this campus, so to speak.
In this benchmark high-vitriol election, maybe it’s important to remember that Jesus didn’t even ‘unfriend’ Judas, knowing full well that his friend would betray him, leading Him to His very death.
Dude, that’s Love. That’s radical love.
I’m not inferring that we give every differently-minded friend a big, fake smile and a smackaroo on the cheek. No need to be disingenuous. These are things we feel PASSIONATE about! There’s nothing wrong with passion. God loves a passionate heart.
I’m suggesting that when you are on social networks or having conversations and feel that hatred/anger roil up from your gut and spill over into your spirit, check yourself. I’ll try to check myself too.
Call a wrong out, there’s nothing wrong with that. But don’t vilify the person holding on to that ‘wrong.’
Don’t give that nastiness a foothold in your life, it has a way of becoming cancerous. No matter who wins this crazy election, you don’t want that poison coursing through your veins. Even as justified as it may feel, it is not of Christ and will choke out the fruits of the Spirit all the way down to the roots, if you let it.
Don’t let it.
Oh, and God bless America.
We’re going to need it.
Galatians 5:22-24 (MSG)
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.”