Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Unity in divided times

I spent quite a bit of time watching the American election coverage over the last day. It was certainly a history making day! I won't be entering into discussions of the rights and wrongs of any political party or politician and ask that you don't do so on the comments of this blog. What i do want to talk about is how we treat believers who we disagree with. I have been very concerned about some of what i have seen circulating on myspace bulletins and blog comments today. It has greatly grieved me to see the often vicious attacks some Christians are launching on other believers who have voted for the democrats and even against believers who chose to abstain from voting.

Election campaigns involve a lot of fear, a lot of "us and them" talk, a lot of caricaturing people and a lot of fault finding. We've let these attitudes seep into the Christian community, particularly when it comes to political affiliation. The only problem is the believers that voted differently to you this election are not some evil enemy intent on destroying everything that is holy in the world as many would have you believe. They are your brothers and sisters in Christ. God loves them as much as he loves you. Christ died for their sins too just as he did for yours. They will be in heaven one day with you. They may have had motives for their choice of vote as good as you had for yours. They may have prayed as much or more than you about how to vote for.

The bible exorts us over and over again to be unified as believers

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:13 NIV)

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. (Phillipians 2:1-2 NIV)

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. (1 Peter 3:8 NIV)

I could keep posting scripture after scripture but you get the point.As a church we cannot afford to be mimicking the world around us and living in division. It can cause incredible damage to believers, distract from our calling and be an incredibly bad witness to unbelievers. In these times of change of all sorts we need to come together as believers. We won't always agree on everything and that's OK. The gospel that unites us is bigger and more important than any election or political party. Imagine if as a Christian community we became not known as republicans, conservatives, democrats or whatever other political label but as people committed to showing grace and humbly loving even those whom we disagree with. I think that could well change the world more than any vote could.

12 comments:

  1. So, so true Joanna. Great post.

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  2. Well said. I know I do my on bit of complaining. I do, however, try not to get partisan.

    I was thinking about a tangent I will post about soon as I was listening to the Daily Audio Bible podcast reading through Ezekiel. God told the prophets to say specific things to his people. These were typically "follow God" sorts of things, not vote for ???.

    One of the things I like about Derek Webbs "Savior on Capitol Hill" is his pointing to God rather than man for salvation.

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  3. This is a great post Joanna, and so important, and true. We have many avenues to play a role on this planet, but God's purposes for us must come first, and that includes loving one another and not allowing worldly controversies to throw us off the main vision - the Kingdom of God. As Christians, it's the citizenship we should hold of highest value.

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  4. I also just noticed that someone who was following my blog has stopped, right after my last post, on the election! Maybe it's just a conincidence, but it makes me feel sad.

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  5. Hi Joanna. You make a lot of good points, especially the idea that anger and pettiness does not provide a good witness to Our Lord. Speaking of anger, I did not mean to be snarky toward you on the SCL comment section. I was upset with anonymous. I was afraid that he might have hurt Sherri's feelings. I checked out her blog, and it appears that he didn't. I didn't mean to lash out at you. We were on the same side, afterall :-) I only mentioned your comment because I thought someone (anyone) might point out the length, and then we would be having and responding to "Stuff Christians Don't Like on the Stuff Christians Like Comment Section" tangent. I reread my comment this morning, and while I still mean what I said to anonymous, I certainly didn't mean to pick on you. I apologize if I seemed to. If you took any offense, I will apologize on the SCL site.
    Good post. God Bless you.
    Sincerely,
    Helen

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  6. No, its totally fine. i wasn't at all offended.

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  7. Joanna,

    You are right. Whether we are Republican, Democrat, Independent, or whatever political flag we fly, as Christians, it really won't matter in the end. There are a lot of people upset over here b/c Obama won. I'll admit...he wasn't my choice, but I'm not shaking my fist at the Heavens and screaming, "WHY GOD?!?" It is what it is.

    But I digress b/c I'm so over the election now anyway. THANK GOD for the break from the political propaganda that filled our TV screens night after night.

    And the whole reason I'm writing you is to let you know that you can now find me on iTunes in Australia!! YAY! So, forget about Bandbox and go straight to iTunes. :)

    Blessings!

    Tara Jackson :)

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  8. Just ran across this blog through another one through another one. :) It is comforting and encouraging. I have been attacked of late for my vote and called less of a Christian for it, which is fine... I have chosen to find my worth in Him not in the scrutiny of this world.

    However, in the past few days, when I should be celebrating my candidate's victory and should be nothing more than in awe over the racial barriers that I hope have been shattered, I have a very heavy heart.

    I am surrounded by many, many Christians in my life. But, I am saddened to my core by the recent exploitation of Christ for the sake of peoples' own pride and arrogance. The darkness exists in me as well... of course.

    As Christians in a very privledged country, we think we are walking the walk and talking the talk, but we are more concerned about whether or not we will be able to afford the new flat screen TV as a result of the administration, than we are about living out the characters of Christ.

    My experience in the past few days has me so disillusioned, and my gut reaction is to shield or distance myself from it, which would essentially alientate me from almost everyone I know. I will pray for which direction to go... but I long for a place where Christians are stripped down to their core - without the materialistic trappings of this world - whose hearts are pure - and where individuals choose to glorify God in all they do - where acknowledgment that He paid the ultimate price for me is blessing enough on my life... your life...

    And, now I pray...

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  9. "but we are more concerned about whether or not we will be able to afford the new flat screen TV as a result of the administration, than we are about living out the characters of Christ. "
    amw: a well-deserved "ouch"

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  10. amen! Thankfully, our faith is not rooted based on who are leader is. If it was, there would be no church in China

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  11. Amen. God is bigger than who's "in charge" of the governments. I posted a blog about that on my myspace page. Now that the U.S. election is over, it's my prayer that we will remember our common need for mercy and forgiveness instead of all our differences... and also that the believers will commit to praying for our new leaders. They have a tough job ahead of them.

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  12. I found this blog through two other blogs. I love your post. I voted for the President-Elect. Where I live most people are happy and praising God. So there is a support system. I knew others would feel a backlash. I'm sad so many others are being hurt by Christians. The things I'm reading and seeing is terrible. There is alwys a price for standing up for what you believe. God will always be there to see you through.

    Thanks again for being so kind to us with different points of view.

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