Around this season, four years ago, I was spending a lot of time on facebook. I relished in reading statuses about politics and engaged in lively discussions. I made countless snarky comments to my couch cushions, and smirked as I crafted zingers, especially Scripture-laced zingers. I was out to prove that I was right, and I was using Bible verses as my proof. I was sure that many of my Christ-following friends were closed-minded, uneducated, and selfish. I knew that I was right, and they were wrong, and I felt it my duty to correct them.
Between the last presidential election and this one, I’ve grown up a little, and gained some spiritual and political perspective. Over the past few years, God has been reminding me that He isn’t limited to an American political side, and he doesn’t favor one political side. In fact, He probably cares very little about taking sides at all. He’s been reminding me that he’s in the business of life change, not policy change. He’s been reminding me that there is no candidate that will solve all of the world problems. He’s been reminding me that He alone is the the hope.
I’m still doing my research. I most assuredly will vote. But somehow, not pinning all of my hopes on a candidate has allowed me to disengage from taking personal offense when I encounter someone who intends to vote differently than I do. When I read a tweet or status, or I hear someone make a comment, I no longer feel the immediate need to lash out, correct, or roll my eyes. I don’t immediately flush or start sweating when someone disagrees with my political pick.
The truth is, there are some good things about both republican and democrat platforms, and there are good things about both of the candidates. There are also some bad things about both republican and democrat platforms, and bad things about both of the candidates. Neither is completely evil, and neither is completely good.
I was really disappointed in my social media feed last night during and after the debate. I was really appalled and saddened by comments that I read from non-Christ-followers and Christ-followers alike. It is possible to have an opinion about something without being opinionated. And it is possible to disagree with someone/something without being disrespectful. As Christ-followers, our response to all things, politics included, should be filled with grace and love. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” The evidence of God’s work in our life is that we are filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). (I get the irony, I’m quoting scripture just like I did last presidential election. But bear with me, because I think this is less about me backing up my opinion and more about me reflecting on how Jesus wants me to act.)
Here’s what I’m committing to this political season. Want to join me?
1. I will pray during this election season – For my favorite candidate and for my least favorite candidate. Being a leader is hard, our leaders need our prayers. We’re supposed to pray for our leaders even if we don’t agree with them (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
2. I will be respectful in my discussions, in my social media posts, and my thoughts. That last one is especially hard because no one knows but me what’s going on in my noggin, but truly, disrespect starts in the mind, and eventually, what’s rattling around in my heart and mind comes out.
3. I will censor what I put “out there” via discussions and social media, remembering that everything I think doesn’t need to go to the masses. I will remember that blasting my opinions will cause 1 of 2 reactions: Siding or alienating. Jesus wasn’t in the business of either of those things, so I don’t need to be, either.
4. I will not judge others based on their political affiliation. I will assume best intentions, and I will love, but I will not judge.
This election season, I am choosing to not take things so personally, as if I were on the ballot myself -yes, this November, I am taking myself off of the presidential ballot. Are you?