Their bursts sound eerily similar to the bombs in the WWII movies I love. Sitting here, listening to the nearby town’s fireworks, I’m wondering what it would feel like if those were actually bombs. Coming closer. Knowing men in my family were out there, that my hometown was in jeopardy of invasion and my house might not be my own by morning.
Instead, they are just fireworks, and I’m just in my Iowa prairie without any fear of attack. I’m a free and safe American, and I am so very thankful.
I may be thankful, but there is one thing I haven’t been much of lately: Proud.
I feel like my American pride crumbles a little with each Facebook rant I read and violent protest I see on the news.
I’m not very… political, so if you are thinking this is going to be an educated piece sharing some deep wisdom on my right or left leanings, you’re in the wrong place. Instead, I just want to share something that has been on my heart.
Where is the love?
I’ve never seen Americans come against each other so disrespectfully. I’ve never seen Christians get so heated and awful about politics. (I am guilty as well!) Sure, times may be dire, and I’m not minimizing the importance of this next election. I understand the next president will have a major impact on the future of this country, and I understand being informed is extremely important.
But I believe as Christians, love is still the most important.
I’ll be honest, unfortunately I grew up thinking white, Christian Reformed Republicans were God’s chosen people. I thought God’s love lenses were similar to mine, but oh how wrong I was. It has taken me several years to process through who and how God really loves.
Who does God love?
God loves all people. Red, yellow, black and white people. Rich people. Disabled people. Republicans. Democrats. LGBT people. Gun carrying people. Lost people. Female and male people. Pro-choice people. God loves all people.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
What does that mean for me? It means I must love all people, too. (This is different than approving of behavior, but that’s a topic for a different day.) Sometimes I feel ugliness rise up in me… self-righteousness, pride, even racism. But that is not of God… that is the great conniver trying to convince me that being bitter and awful is my RIGHT, my American right.
In John 15, Jesus does the unthinkable and washes the feet of His disciples. Imagine that. The King of the world has already come down to earth, and now He is washing the feet of men who will betray and disown Him. He uses this as an opportunity to teach them what true servanthood, humility and love looks like. A little later on in the chapter, Jesus says something amazing:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 15:34-35
Not by your denomination, your political party, your social class, your gender, your race but YOUR LOVE. What a beautiful reminder, and an incredible opportunity we have! It saddens me to think of the image of Jesus we as Christians are portraying in this election year. As we fight and bicker, say harsh words and judge, I don’t think anyone would know we are His disciples. And worst, I don’t think it makes anyone want to know Jesus.
I’m not advocating for arrogance of sin or avoidance of discipline or correction, but instead asking we remember the second greatest commandment:
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
How does God love?
God loves by returning. I believe His Kingdom is coming. HIS kingdom. Not Trump’s kingdom or Hillary’s kingdom, but GOD’s Kingdom. No matter what happens, God is still on the throne. And even more exciting, I believe God’s Kingdom is HERE. In beautiful and powerful ways, we as followers of Jesus have the ability to bring the Kingdom to earth. We can see glimpses of what God has in store for us when we actively ask for Jesus to break in to every area of our lives.
God loves through us. God hasn’t just left us here, stranded, alone and bored while we wait for Christ to return. He has given us His Spirit, and with It, the incredible opportunity to bring His Kingdom to earth, to share His love and bring His good, good news to all the nations. What if we focused more on that than being right about a political issue?
What if instead of acting out of emotion and justification, we first loved. What if when we come across those who hold different views, we first showed kindness and generosity, hospitality and genuine interest in who they are as a person? No matter if their bumper sticker says Trump or if they have five Hillary signs in their lawn, show love first. When you feel ugliness rise up in you, ask Jesus to break through and for the Spirit to come and give you words and wisdom.
This Sunday our sermon at church was about judging. Perfect timing as I wrap up this blog. There are two points I want to share… (Listen to the sermon >>>HERE<<<)
- When you disagreeing with non-believer, remember, we as Christians are not called to be the moral police of society. How can we hold non-believers to our standards? (1Corinthians 5:12-13)
- When disagreeing with a believer, think through some of these things…
- Check yourself first. You can’t get the spec out of your brother’s eye with a plank in your own. Spend time in prayer asking God to bring up anything in you first. (Luke 6:42)
- Be sensitive to the person and sensitive to God’s timing. Harsh words and angry tones are not going to change anyone’s mind.
- With persistent prayer, bring this person and the issue before the Lord. It is hard to hate someone you are praying for.
I am a thankful American. Thankful I have the freedom to sit here and write whatever I want, as a Christian woman. I’m thankful for everyone who has ever served or put their life on the line to make my life safe.
I don’t think its wrong to have opinions or to be passionate about your party or person, your rights or your freedom– I’m just asking we love first. That we let love and respect lead our conversations (especially our online conversations), invite Jesus in and never forget our ultimate purpose here on earth.
Ugliness rises up in all of us, I’m just thankful we serve a God is who forgiving and fair and perfect, has the power to soften our hearts and at the end of the day (or the end of November) HE IS STILL IN CONTROL.