Missions mindset: that way of thinking which gears every aspect of life toward glorifying God and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ
Election season: that period of time (every four years) when Americans choose their next Commander-in-Chief, characterized in the modern era by mud-slinging, propaganda, and overspending
I’m a big fan of that constitutional pillar we call separation of church and state. My comments today do not address the church. I speak to individuals who call themselves “Christian,” although I prefer to call myself a Christ-Follower. We have a unique opportunity in these days—one that we must not overlook in the heat of our political passions.
I’m also not asking you to give up your political views. Healthy debate is good for our country, and everyone seems to have strong political opinions this year. If you don’t, you must have spent the year in an underground bunker. (Kimmy Schmidt, anyone?) By the way, I’m quite certain that well-intentioned, sincere Christ-followers will vote for Hillary Clinton, for Donald Trump, and for whoever else remains on the ballot in November. God isn’t a Republican.
Be a Christ-Follower before you’re a Republican, Democrat, or Independent
What if we choose to act like Jesus through this election season? What if we “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39) when someone offends our political sensibilities? What if we buy someone’s lunch even though we just learned that person supports the other candidate? What if we give someone $20 when they ask for $5 (Luke 6:29)?
What if we engage in honest conversation with those who hold different views? Jesus never rejected the Pharisees. He never refused to talk to them. He never got in a shouting match with them. Consider Nicodemus (John 3). Jesus gave up his evening, his Netflix binge, his “me-time” to speak quietly with his opponent. Sure, Nicodemus came to Him, but the example still stands. How many times did He respond to Pharisees’ questions in and around the temple? He may have been enigmatic, but He was usually patient.
It’s about love.
However you are employed, whatever “platform” you stand on, you interact with other people—either constructively (building the Kingdom) or destructively (creating barriers around the Kingdom).
A person’s eternal peace
is more important than a
paycheck or a politicial opinion.
I was thinking this past weekend about the awesome mission opportunities a tow truck driver has. (If you follow North Carolina news, you probably know why I was thinking this.) If someone needs the services of a tow truck, she (or he) is in a vulnerable, maybe even desperate situation regardless of which candidate’s stickers spot her (or his) bumper. The tow truck driver has an opportunity to meet that physical need of moving the vehicle, but he also has a chance to minister to that person’s emotional and spiritual needs. He can ask questions, listen attentively, even share portions of Truth as he drives the individual back to the garage (or wherever). He can play Christian music on his radio. He might even have a Bible in his dashboard…a well-worn Bible that shows He loves the Word of God and spends time studying it daily. The drive might take, oh say, an hour—plenty of time to pour blessings on that person, plenty of time to overlook political differences in the interest of peace. That person’s eternal peace is more important than a paycheck or a political opinion or a feeling of self-righteousness.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. –Matthew 5:43-45a
I hope we don’t consider political opponents to be actual enemies, but at times we may feel as though they are. How can we love them?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. -1 Corinthians 13:4
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus told us a parable that we usually call The Good Samaritan. In it, someone is injured and desperate for medical attention. Two men, considering themselves holy and righteous, refuse to help. Jesus shames his listeners by assigning kindness and generosity to a social pariah, to one they wouldn’t even allow into the temple. The point is not that Samaritans are kinder than Jews or that they have more spare time. The point is that we tend to get so caught up in our faith, so enraptured by our own righteousness, that we think we are right to neglect someone outside our faith community. We don’t demonstrate love.
We are all Americans. We all get to vote. (Very thankful for the 15th and 19th Amendments here!) Come November 9th, we’ll all still be here regardless of who the country…well, the electoral college…chooses for president.
What kind of Christian will you
be in this election season?
What kind of Christian will you be in this election season, which is really a season of special spiritual opportunity? Will you refuse to help those whose opinions differ from yours? Will you set yourself up against a certain community within the US (LGBT, 2nd Amendment supporters, climate change advocates, pro-choice people, Muslims, immigration defenders, liberals, conservatives, etc.)? Or will you demonstrate God’s love for all people through your kindness and generosity?
Jesus knew that being kind to those who oppose you would be hard. For that reason, He gave us special encouragement:
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. –Matthew 5:11
This doesn’t mean we should provoke persecution. It means that, if we are persecuted despite our Christlikeness, He will bless us through it.
Not that our political opponents are “wicked,” but Jesus also said,
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. –Luke 6:35
Instead of leaving a bad taste in their mouths, give people the chance to say, “Hmm. That was the nicest Christian I ever met.” That’s where God gets the glory in this election season!
Interested in this concept of loving those who are different? Check out Hugh Halter’s book, Brimstone. Otherwise, let me know what you think about this in the comments…but let’s keep it apolitical!