The closer we've gotten to Election Day, the more I've found myself praying. At first, I was praying for the process, and for the folks running, and for other civic-minded things. But for some reason, that left me feeling like I was missing something. And then last night, it occurred to me that what I needed to be praying for was me. Or to be more precise, I needed to be praying for my patience with others.
This election cycle has been like no other I’ve experienced. And as we’ve gone through it, I’ve noticed that not only our nation, but our communities and families have struggled to stay civil through it all. But perhaps the most disappointing thing is how this lack of civility has crept into our churches, as I hear Christians referring to others in negative terms simply because they don’t agree on politics.
There are lots of reasons this election season has been so divisive, but I think one of the main factors has been the fact that we’ve forgotten to be patient with each other. And for Christians, that’s not a good thing, since God calls us to be people of patience. The Apostle Paul puts it like this in Ephesians 4:2-3: “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (NLT).
The early church faced all sorts of persecution and pressure from the world around it. And Paul knew that if the early Christian movement was to survive, it needed to be unified in order to withstand the pressures it faced. The same is still true today. As Christians, we live in a world that is hostile to our Father, His Kingdom, and His Children. Which means it’s critical that we stay united in His Holy Spirit. But in addition to that, it's important that we show the world around us how God expects His Children to live - with humility and loving patience towards everyone.
And that of course is the challenge, because human nature isn’t always agreeable. Sometimes we feel like there are people that we just can’t get along with. It might be something as basic as a personality conflict, or something more transient - like politics. Whatever the reason, sometimes it’s just hard for us to get along. But Paul reminds us to “bear with each other in love”. So even when we don’t agree with folks, we still need to treat them as people made in God’s image - who need to know His love and grace and kindness. And one of the ways God may show the beauty of who He is, is through us.
So today, let’s not be Republican or Democrat or Independent or Libertarian or Green Party. Instead, let’s be God’s Children - called to bear with each other in love. Let’s stay unified in showing the world the truth of Who God is, and what His Family is like.