It seems as though these times are covered in division. And I've been overwhelmed by it all.
While all sides of the political spectrum continue to hash out what is happening, so many things have come to light. And while our two main candidates were, to put it nicely, not very good, the truth is they reflected us in so many ways. Neither one forced the ideas and actions that have since risen up from the campaigns and election. They just have given them exposure. And in a way, we can be grateful. Because when things are hidden in the dark we can't deal with them. But now sins are being highlighted and coming into the light.
So now we can't offer excuses or claim ignorance. We simply cannot say racism doesn't exist or power doesn't corrupt or politicians aren't held to a double standard. Our candidates, the two main political parties, showed that lying, abortion, stereotyping, discrimination, double standards, racism, misogyny, power, islamophobia, sexual assault, corruption were all ok. That's why attacks because of race and religion and gender have skyrocketed in the past week. Hatred is at an all time high. We have to deal with the issues that have come to light. Now that so much is in the light, we can start the hard work of repentance, of radical adjustment.
We must remember Jesus isn't a Republican and He isn't a Democrat. And Christians can be either one. Actually, the vast majority of Christians aren't either one because most of the Church isn't made up of Americans. And part of the beauty of the Church, and of this country, is found in its diversity. It is such a good thing there is not a political party that completely aligns with Scripture and gospel values. If there was, people would worship the government and put their hope in the government rather than Jesus, even more than they already do.
So with everything going on and all the different responses to it all, we can know there is always hope. There is a better response than hate and anger and despair. There has to be.
And as the events of the past week have played out, four responses keep replaying in my mind.
No matter what side of anything we are on, we have to start listening to each other. We need to be willing to listen way more than we speak. Listen to those who look, worship, think, live different than you. Listen to hearts, to stories, to pain, to experiences. Just simply listen. Without agenda and without talking back and without trying to be right and without having the last word. Even if you don't agree, especially if you don't agree, just listen. Listen and try to understand where they are coming from. Listen to other generations. Listen to fears; don't try to dismiss them because you don't relate. Listen to the fears and hardships of minorities. Listen to the fears and hardships of police men and women and their families. Listen to the fears and hardships of the working class. Listen to the fears and hardships of immigrants. Listen to the fears and hardships of Muslims. Listen to the fears and hardships of those in other countries that will be affected by the things in America. Just listen. Seek to understand. Choose empathy over arguing, respect over being right. Listening can be the start to incredible healing.
After initially listening, be willing to dive in deeper and learn more about others' experiences. Read, watch documentaries, go further in conversations. When you go to a bookstore, or shop on Amazon, are there authors you automatically gravitate towards because of, even if unknowingly, race or gender? I recently read a tweet from someone who said people always ask him to speak about racial reconciliation because he is black when in fact his expertise is on marriage and family relationships. So learn from different people. Learn about others life experiences, but also just learn from others. Increase awareness of who you are learning from and start to recognize where you gravitate towards. Learn from those younger and from those older than you. Seek out wisdom.
Hear the hardships people face. Mourn with those who mourn. Grieve others pain. It doesn't need to be argued against or justified to you. Hurt with those hurting. Cry for them and with them. Be sorrowful over sins and over division. Look at the divisions in the Church right now and the hurt this election cycle has caused the witness of the Church and lament. Acknowledge the pain people express. Recognize the sins, divisions, the very real wounds that need healing. Repent. Seek forgiveness. Be willing to simply cry, mourn, grieve, lament with others.
And then love. Your love for God displays itself in a love for others. Love your neighbor. Love your community. And if your community looks and thinks and acts and worships exactly like you, maybe it's time to widen your circle. Love takes sacrifice. Whether it's comfort or time or finances, true gospel love sacrifices. But the sacrifice is always worth it. Because God is glorified when we love our neighbors. Choose to see people first as image bearers, not as a certain political party supporter, and simply love them. Love can look like being hospitable, forgiving and seeking forgiveness, spending time together, gently speaking truth, speaking out against hate, fighting for justice, intentionally building relationships, working for racial reconciliation, showing gratitude to those who serve our communities and nation with integrity and courage, being encouraging, and so much more. Love does not seek political power, but genuinely sees and serves. Love is patient and kind, not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude or irritable or resentful, doesn't insist on its own way or rejoice at wrongdoing,
These divisive times can make way for great healing if the Church will pray and fast, take the Scriptures seriously, love liberally, give generously, and serve sacrificially. It is time to show people the real Jesus. May we seek to live more like Jesus called us to. Make we seek to live like Jesus. Jesus called us to deny ourselves, to humble ourselves like children. We are to be meek and to outdo one another in showing honor. Let's follow the God we serve and be slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness. And remember, if your theology doesn't translate to third world countries and closed countries, it isn't truth. Our country needs to hear gospel doctrine and needs to see gospel community. Unity is compellingly beautiful and the name of Jesus is powerful.
So may we listen intently, learn richly, lament genuinely, love deeply. And may we expectantly pray for God to bring about great healing through His Church from all this division.
Good can come from all of this. Beauty comes from ashes; and ashes can only come from something being burned, something going through fire. Renewal comes from rubble; and rubble only comes from devastation. Better days are ahead, brothers and sisters. Let's do the hard work required to usher them in.
Sarah loves Jesus and her family and is passionate about addressing the urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. She is the wife of Spencer and mama of Katherine and Claire, and they live in Nashville, TN. She runs a photography business with her husband and writes in order to offer encouragement and invite others to choose grace, joy, and gratitude in the adventure and the mundane. She loves traveling and reading; she will choose unsweet tea over sweet and bootcut jeans over skinny; and she is all sorts of awkward with small talk but thrives with deep conversations.