Today we will elect the 45th President of the United States. The night before the election in 2012, I posted this prayer in response to what seemed to be, at the time, the most divisive election I had ever witnessed.
Then came 2016.
Until today, I have purposefully avoided expressing my own opinions regarding the election. There is no shortage of voices clamoring to be heard from every perspective imaginable. Although I definitely have my own views, I have not felt compelled to add my voice to the mix. I realize others have come to a different conclusion and I respect their right to make their own decisions before God. We each have our own unique role–that is the beauty of “one Body with many members.”
Today, however, my heart is heavy and I want to reach out. Today, I want to attempt to stand in the gap–not widen it. I originally intended to revamp the prayer I wrote four years ago and post it again, but that didn’t seem appropriate. This election is in a league all its own and my thoughts and prayers from four years ago don’t seem adequate for today.
As this day unfolds, some will rejoice and some will feel crushed. Some will feel numb. Others will probably just be glad it’s over. I hope and pray we allow each other the grace to respond as individuals. Even if we don’t agree with, or understand, another person’s perspective, it doesn’t diminish their right to have thier own view. In a free society we can disagree yet each express our own opinions. My fear, however, is that somewhere along the way we dragged God into the equation in a way I doubt he ever intended.
When I hear believers expressing to other believers that if they really loved Jesus there is no way they could vote for _______(fill in the blank), it feels like we have elected ourselves into the role of Holy Spirit. Last I checked, that role was taken. God alone sees the whole picture in any individual life–and that includes our political views.
I don’t personally believe any human being is able to comprehensively express all of God’s thoughts about this election or the state of our nation in general. (And, as important as the election is, I’m quite sure isn’t the only thing occupying God’s thoughts today!) Those who claim to possess the only possible “correct” position, or those who assume the moral high ground based on their understanding of God’s priorities (supported, of course, by their own favorite passages of scripture while conveniently ignoring many others) put themselves in the precarious position of judging the heart and intentions of another. Again, I absolutely honor and respect the choice of those who have spoken out from a place of deep conviction, so long as it has been done in a way that is respectful of those who hold another opinion.
Many have shown sensitivity and restraint in their dialogue with those who think differently and I applaud them. But, of course, that has not been the case across the board. Many exchanges have dramatically widened the gap between us (both inside and outside of the church) with arrogant, condescending, insensitive, and downright shameful rhetoric. No matter how strongly you hold your views, or even how valid your views may be, slandering someone who doesn’t share them and assuming the worst about them is never the heart of God. (And please, no comments here about how the words above fit one or both of the major candidates. That is not what this post is about.)
In truth, we probably all need to spend a little time reevaluating our assumptions about those who think differently than we do. We probably all need to allow the One who is the personification of of truth and grace to rule a bit more thoroughly in our own hearts and minds. We probably all need to continue growing in our understanding and demonstration of love. Now more than ever.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. –1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
By tomorrow, Lord willing, we will have a new President. Regardless of who wins, they will inherit a deeply wounded and deeply divided nation. But, thankfully, God will still be God. He will still be with us. He will still be for us. He will still be good. And he is still able to bridge any gap that separates us.
For the sake of our nation, I pray we will stand in the gap with him. I pray we will choose to stand in the gap, rather than widening it. I pray that our response as the church, regardless of who wins, will model a depth of maturity and grace we have not consistently demonstrated during the election cycle. I pray we will each examine our own hearts and walk forward in a greater demonstration of love.
I know the divide is great. I know the hurt is deep and real. I know the issues that separate us are complex and multidimensional. But Love bridged the great divide. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love endures through every circumstance.
We may not have all voted the same way in the election, but today, let’s all cast a vote for Love to win in our nation.
Because Love never fails.
God bless America, and God bless our new President.