Are you watching?
Do you hear what is happening?
Have you noticed that everything seems to have shifted?
Over the past few years I have noticed that our country, while democratic and political in nature, has somehow become lost in politics. Most everything seems to be viewed as Democrats v. Republicans. The “v” there is important to note. It isn’t (D) and (R) it is v. We have adopted an idea that we can’t work together but rather tear down everything the other does. A few months ago I was on the phone with someone and they told me “Christians can’t be democrats. Democrats are all pro-choice and that’s not godly.” That conversation left me hurt and confused why someone who has known me for so long no longer believes that I am a Christian or a good person or *fill in the blank*. A difference in opinion had caused someone dear to me to completely question everything about me and made me wonder if they even trusted who they knew me to be.
Friends have told me that their family members use very unkind rhetoric when referring to political differences of opinion – I will spare you because again, it is unkind to so many people of so many various backgrounds.
Family members of my own consider going to church a conservative christian activity and have told me that “liberals don’t go to church.”
I’m watching, listening, and noticing that things are shifting to be either conservative or liberal activities. If church or being a christian is only what conservatives do, than what does that make me? Or my friends? What about non-American friends who have no political affiliation?
When living abroad I worked with a non-profit organization that had a specific mission of ministering to and serving women who had been trafficked or sold into prostitution. Visiting the brothel district, living in a shelter with the girls, spending time with them was looked at here in the US by my fellow church going friends as praiseworthy. One evening at church someone said, “oh my gosh, you are so brave” and I stopped. I’m not brave. That was easy. Because it wasn’t in America. Think about it, if I were to start visiting brothels or live with women who were former prostitutes or spend large amounts of my time with them many church goers would think I had lost my mind. That I had fallen off the deep end. That is what I said in response and I said it with a lot of passion and frustration. While my tone now is much softer, I still feel the same.
Bravery looks like loving and serving and supporting others when everyone else thinks you are crazy (see: Jesus and the Samaritan woman). Bravery looks like breaking cultural norms to show love and kindness (see: Mary pouring out expensive oil on Jesus’s feet – that oil was worth a year’s worth of salary mind you). Bravery looks like so much of what we have lost. It takes courage and bravery to love like Jesus loved. In James 2:1-13 it talks about the sin of partiality. It is easy to love those who love you, but what about the ones who don’t? It is easy to love those your friends love, but what about loving those who no one else around you wants to love?
Again, I ask, are you watching? Do you hear what is happening? Have you noticed that everything seems to have shifted?
When we look at political parties and name call and shame we are putting down our friends, family, and those who need to see Jesus. We aren’t looking much like Jesus when we are calling someone an idiot or using racial slurs or using mental disabilities as an insult. As a Christian, I believe that God made us all. We are different races, ethnicities, backgrounds. We are from different geographical locations and we have different opinions. He designed us to be different because differences create better community. We were made to live in community. We can’t live in community if we can’t trust that the person next to us is about to call us a name based on our political preference or change their opinion of us because of our skin color.
(Political) party lines should not define where we begin and end. (Political) party lines should not define how our families treat us or how we speak to one another. Political parties, like all groups of people, are made up of individuals. Not all people in one party support one thing. Not all people in one church interpret scripture the same exact way. We were not designed to do that. God created us to have different gifts and talents. He made our brains work differently, but they all work. He made our bodies look different, but we have bodies. He made our personalities different…
Our activities should be defined as one party or the other (I mean, unless you are going to party specific events). Going to church or participating in religious activities isn’t about a political party (or it shouldn’t be anyway). It should be about Jesus. We desperately need to shift our focus off of political parties.
It is easy for us to hide behind our computer screens and type mean things on social media, but it seems we have forgotten that interacting with each other is hindered by these very same posts.
Being brave doesn’t mean writing something “strongly worded” on social media claiming that “only idiots would do that” or “Christians could never do this”. I am not everyone. You are not everyone. Losing sight of grace, or kindness, or humanity isn’t going to do anything for us. Being brave is loving others. Being brave is being patient and kind. Being brave is having faith. These are also four of the fruits of the spirit (the others being joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, and self-control). Being brave is living like Jesus. When He encountered those who were clearly not following Him, He didn’t stand on top of buildings shouting how everyone was an idiot and they “need to get they lives right” (what I hear when I read a lot of posts on social media). Rather, He walked through life with them, He healed them of their ailments, He dined with them.
Jesus was brave and courageous. He loved well. He served well. We should do the same. Modeling that doesn’t match what is happening around us. Be a safe haven for your friends. A place of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Your words (and social media comments) are much louder than you think. If a picture is a thousand words, what does that say about the thousands of words you say and write?
I’m not brave. Not yet anyway. But I’m praying, learning, working, reading, and trying.