As election season heats up to a near suffocating level, I have really had to wrestle with a lot of personal emotions stirred up by interactions I have had with people on both sides of the political coin. For one, it saddens me that the attitude of "us vs. them" is so pervasive...but that is a completely different matter for another conversation.
I guess what my battle boils down to is the lack of love with which we're okay treating people with whom we disagree. I know very few of you personally, so please don't misunderstand me. I'm not here to point fingers or to lump you into the "we" of which I speak. God alone knows and has the right to stir conviction within the human heart. However, what I'm aiming for here is to shine a bit of a spotlight on a subtle undercurrent that often flys under the radar, yet deeply influences our interactions and relationships with the people in our respective circles. We all feel it, but we stand to gain something from unpacking it a little. So, here's a bite of food for thought...
I believe there is room for differences in perspective within the Body of Christ. I also believe that it is ok to differ in matters of conscience in certain matters as we have each been shaped by different experiences that are unique to us as individuals.
One of the most amazing things about being part of this Body is not that we are exactly alike, but that we are very different. Our differences can strengthen and complement our weaknesses in tremendous ways that uniformity never could. God himself designed it that way!
While scripture does not say that the world will recognize us by our sameness, it does explicitly say that the defining hallmark of our faith is love. So then, why is it that we can so easily dismiss our responsibility to love in favor of defending our rightness? Do we even realize that fighting for what may very well be good and righteous causes is fundamentally undermined when we crusade for them apart from maintaining a loving attitude?
In 1 Corinthians 13:1 & 3 Paul says, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am just a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal...And if I give everything I have to the poor and even sacrifice my body--I could boast about it, but if I didn't love others, it would profit me NOTHING."
Fighting for the right things and not having the right spirit cancels out the very goodness of the things for which we do battle. While it is true that there will be an ultimate price to pay for not standing on the side of truth, sometimes the hills we are willing to die on are not even 'black or white' matters, but rather issues of personal conviction.
Our job is to represent--to love, to add value, and to show honor and respect. The rest is for God to sort out. We cannot afford to be so proud as to think we could possibly have a corner on the right--the ONLY perspective. Even among the mature, there is always room for growth.
1 Corinthians 8:3 says, "...sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all."
You've heard the old adage, "you catch more flys with honey than with vinegar." Paul says something reminiscent in Roman's 2:4 "Surely you know that God is being kind because he is trying to lead you to repent."
When we imitate the love and dignity with which Christ treated people, we are paving the way for them to come to Him. At the very least, we are not putting unnecessary roadblocks in their way. This is true in our relationships with the secular world as well as with those who also belong to the family of God. We are called to be peacemakers in as much as it depends upon us, (Romans 12:18) and that always begins with our attitude and how we choose to express ourselves.
I'm not here to persuade you to vote for a particular candidate, but I do hope to provoke a little thought. There is danger in hanging our hopes up on the wrong thing. We live in a broken world. A certain person or a particular policy will never be capable of changing the human heart. Are we willing to perhaps risk a human being's eternal ruin on something as trivial as expressing our political views? Something much greater is at stake than who wears the victor's laurels on election day. How we carry ourselves--how we represent the one we love and serve, is of eternal consequence.
We are not called to be infatuated with the truth apart from standing for it in the spirit of love. The authenticity of our living will speak volumes more to people than the the the things for which we stand.
Proverbs 25:15 says, "...gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses." The manner in which we conduct ourselves--especially in the face of opposition, maybe the very key that unlocks the door to mutual respect, understanding, and dare I say, cooperation.
It is only natural for us to be tempted to respond in unflattering ways when we are faced with vitreal, but as Christians, our reality is that we are called to walk in a SUPERnatural way. We are incapable of doing this in our flesh. The key to our capability lies in learning to walk after the Spirit of God. What he requires of us, he also empowers us to do. "So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves." (Galatians 5:16)
We cannot simultaneously be most interested in defending our rightness and in leading a life of love. "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other." (Matthew 6:24) We MUST make a choice. I hope in this election season, we all end up on the right side.
Angie Reynold is a wife mom and daughter of God. During the pandemic, she has taken on the role of teacher for her two young boys. She enjoys reading and bakes. This deeply reflective heart-centered woman also finds time to write for our community.