I was once talking to a man who began complaining about illegal immigration. Eventually he told me that Mexican Americans should, since they live in the United States, not put the descriptive/identifying name of “Mexican” before “American” because it seemed arrogant and unthankful. I explained to him that they were simply following our English grammar rules of placing adjectives before nouns. I told him we would say, “the green car” not “the car green.”
Both Liberal and Conservative Christians (and all those in between) follow the interpretation of Christ illuminated to them through scripture, through their church, through the wisdom of other believers and the Holy Spirit. However, they arrive at different stances on some issues. But they are still followers of Christ. There is a unity here.
The political climate of this country is divisive. We are focusing on our differences. There is a lot disunity, even among Christians. The key to unity, however, lies in how you arrange your identity.
In English, we do structure our sentences with our adjectives before our nouns. In our lives, we do structure our lives with certain adjectives before certain nouns. Are we American Christians or Christian Americans? In other words, are we Christians who happen to live in the United States of America? Or are we Americans who happen to be Christians? The key lies in how you arrange your identity.
Too often (and for far too long) we, as citizens of the USA, have lived out the idea that God is on our own country’s side —that God continues to preferentially bless the USA. But aren’t we citizens of another political entity? Our hope does not lie in a Presidential candidate. Our hope does not lie in a democracy or a republic. Our hope lies in a kingdom, or rather, our hope lies in that very king.
If all Christians can agree to our shared allegiance to that very Christ (after all, we all choose to call ourselves “Christians”), the problem of hate should not be destroying us internally as a church. But it is destroying us. We go on believing that our political views outweigh our shared identity of faith in the true candidate who can save us.
As soon as we, citizens of the USA, start judging other citizens for the fact that they have arrived at different political stances we are opening ourselves up to a dangerous enemy. Too often, dark spiritual forces come into our hearts and sow seeds of disbelief and distrust that grow into hate. And that is one of the things tearing us apart as a church in this country. Evil has found not only a foothold, but a stranglehold in our lives.
The insidiousness of this whole broken system is that it is not only alive and well in the church but that it is perpetrated by the church. How can we both use our religious beliefs as the foundation for our political stances while simultaneously abandoning the core elements of that religion (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind… and love your neighbor as yourself”) and, thus, fail to love those who have different political views? We must wrestle with this.
I can understand how non-Christians might be prone to hate the opposing candidate and their supporters but how can we, as people who follow the most avid purveyor of empathy, fail to at least try to see things from another’s point of view and try to love them?
I am wrestling with this.
I think that, currently, what we have here is a failure to empathize. We need to drop judgements, open ourselves up to civil and spirit-filled conservation so that we can see people beyond their worst character trait and re-learn how to empathize and how to love them as Christ does.
If we wish to not open ourselves up to hate, perhaps we need to talk with each other about other stories. I, for one, am sick of hearing about the latest political drama as it unfolds. Frankly, I find it embarrassing and deeply saddening. Perhaps, instead, we need to share stories about another savior who we elect daily with our actions. As Christians, He is the candidate we can all agree on.
Finally, as Christians who just so happen to live in the United States of America, our primary identity does not lie in our political views but in our faith in someone who taught us to love one another. Our unity in our faith and our shared covenant to love one another is far more important than Making American Great Again or Making America Whole Again.