None of my Facebook or Twitter friends’ posts read, “Congratulations Senator-Elect Rand Paul!” last night.
This morning, that realization served to remind me that this country is segregated and polarized, and I am part of the problem. Of my friends and acquaintances who share their political, social or religious views, very few disagree with me. I think non-Christians slightly outnumber Christians among my various circles, but other than that, we’re pretty homogenous, and on the religious front, we respectfully disagree.
I keep wishing that more of the country would disagree respectfully, but it doesn’t happen, and I can’t say that the times that I’ve caught myself wishing a permanent, catastrophic rain cloud on those I see as the unjust, stupid, ignorant, short-sighted, prejudiced or evil have helped the cause. Nor have the times I’ve chosen to put my headphones on or turn up my music when overhearing a conversation in public that makes me angry. And although I disliked them for a number of other, highly valid and understandable reasons, I chose to completely ignore the coworkers who listened to Rush Limbaugh at work instead of ask them why they believed what they believed.
Now that “they” have taken over the House, I have to get my spirit right. I reminded myself of four things this morning:
- God is sovereign. No matter what the electorate chooses, God is ultimately in control. I don’t know if he’s helping us to hurry Jesus back or if he’s telling us that we free-spirited Christians had better adjust our view of his character, but he’s in control.
- I follow a book that instructs me to love my enemies, bless those who curse me and do good to those who hate me (Matt 5). I just hate the thought of thinking of others who claim to be Christian as my enemies, because I shouldn’t, not when Jesus prayed that we be united, not when disagreements—serious disagreements, like those that cause long-time friends to go their separate ways or members of a congregation to leave a church—were not unheard-of in biblical times (see Acts 15) and not when solving those disagreements is possible. But I also find it disturbing that while we agree that Jesus died for us, our interpretations of how to apply his living to our own lives, decisions and socio-economic policies are vastly different. I guess the key here is to know who the real enemy is (Eph. 6).
- My homogenous associations are petty! Really, how is that different from what everybody else is doing? God loves everyone. Good people get sun and rain; bad people get sun and rain. And food, shelter, wealth, hunger, homelessness and poverty are somewhat impartial, too. God loves everyone, so I should, too. (Matt 5:43-48, my paraphrasing)
- I can do what I’m supposed to do, no matter what anyone else does. Therefore, I’ll be in prayer that our elected leaders proceed with a good conscience and that they have no peace until they do what they’re supposed to do.
And on that fourth thing: Am I supposed to engage in radical intellectual discourse with those whose views I don’t like? Hmm. Let me get that anger thing under control first and work on loving from a distance until then.