We as followers of Jesus (myself included) should look in the mirror as we approach the end of the wretched election season. Before getting out torches and pitch forks, let me say, this post isn’t so much about political policy (although I’d be willing to treat you to a beverage to have that chat). My desire is not to spew insults. My concern isn’t with who we vote for, but how we conduct ourselves, and how we represent Christ in the election process. I wonder if we’ve let our obsession with single issues and desire for political power harm the very people we should be embracing with the unconditional love of Christ.
Honestly, I’m all questions, searching for answers. If you reply, please do not do so from a political perspective, but a Biblical one.
Volunteering with teens, I’ve seen them hurt by the influence of words from presidential candidates. Our girls fear when the next inappropriate comment or unwelcomed touch will come. When a public figure is known to celebrate such actions, it’s seen by many as a free pass to follow that example, making their world even less safe. This isn’t hypothetical, it’s the reality for many. Some Christians in their lives say it’s no big deal, that there’s more important issues at hand. What does that teach them about Jesus, and their worth as daughters of the King?
A woman shares a sign that simply says “no racism, no hate” and others forcefully work to cover it up with an American flag. Shouldn’t Christians want to be known for speaking up against racism?
People of color are harassed by attendees at a rally. The candidate takes the stage, encourages their harm and boldly wishes for the “good old days” when “people like that would be sent away on stretchers”. Since my first draft was written, there’s been talk about people being planted to disrupt political rallies. Exercising free speech and wearing t-shirts advocating for civil rights shouldn’t be all it takes to insight such violence. There’s no excuse to encourage such racially charged violence. There seem to be more important issues than their well being and civil rights to many Christians. What message does that send our neighbors about the Body of Christ?
When American Christians are known for being vocal in not wanting to give a chance at a fresh start to victims of war solely based on religious heritage, what message does that send them about Jesus? How will they have the chance to learn about Christ’s message of unconditional love, salvation and redemption if his ambassadors only seek their harm? How do these war victims feel knowing that we ignore the images of their dead children along the seashore or in the rubble of war torn towns? How do we explain supporting policies to actively seek harm upon their families because their heritage and geography without any true evidence of wrongdoing?
When we claim to be for “life”, but do not support policies and practices that will give all those created in God’s image the chance at sound health and wellbeing beyond the womb, will we truly help people know that God’s image has in fact imprinted upon their hearts? When we say we’re for life, whose life do we mean?
What do we communicate about the work of the cross when we are quick to offer damnation to some people for their past mistakes and mistakes of people close to them, but then turn around and offer grace so freely to others, even those who say they have no reason to seek God’s forgiveness? Since when did the grace of Jesus rely on political preference?
How do we decide what Christian values we try to force upon a secular government, while insisting that others should be left for the church to handle, not the government? Why is it some things, and not others? What does that teach the world about our priorities? Will the ways we engage in the political sphere draw people closer to Jesus or farther away? As followers of Jesus, is there any amount of acceptable collateral damage to God’s Kingdom when it comes to getting our way politically?
What’s going to happen to us when the election is over? Regardless of who we vote for, the political candidates and policies we’ve become so obsessed with won’t work out the way we hoped. It’s easy to make broad statements about platforms without taking a deeper look at complex intricacies. Regardless of the election results, we won’t see our desired outcomes. What then? Will we have walked all over vulnerable people for political victories that mean so little in the big picture of God’s Kingdom? What do we say to Jesus when we look at how we’ve (again, myself included) ignored so much of what he teaches us about being merciful, generous, care-taking, peacemaking, liberating, and enemy-loving?
I believe we can still stand with our preferred platforms without supporting harm to others, perhaps even being bold enough to speak up about it. Is there still a place to be voices of compassion rather than fear? How do we begin to reconcile with the world after the mess we’ve left if in the wake of this stormy election season? How can we go back to being beacons of hope to the lost and the hurting?