CAN YOU STAND ONE MORE?

Can you stand one more post about the election?  I’m not certain I can!  And, yet, I do have something I want to say.  If you absolutely can’t bear another word, I completely understand.  Go on about your day.  I wish you well.

I don’t want to talk about parties or platforms or candidates.  More than enough has been said and will be said about those, and I’ve already said plenty.

What I do want to talk about is love.

This election has shown me that we’re not doing a very good job loving each other.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naive enough to pine for the good ol’ days.  This isn’t a new problem.  It has just hit me in the face more  than any event in my own life to date.

We are all hurting.  Each of us.  For some of us, the hurt runs so close to the surface as to be palpable.  Others of us hide our hurt so deeply, it’s hardly something we are aware of in ourselves, much less something we think others can see.  For some, the hurt is cloaked in grief.  For others, in depression.  For some, anxiety and fear.  For some, it masquerades as anger.  For others, as bitterness.  For some, loneliness.  Let’s not forget that particular sort of despair that comes with feeling misunderstood.  It’s all out there, in some way, in every one of us.  We’re all broken, in some way or another.

My faith teaches me that Jesus has redeemed the broken, and that the evidence of redemption is in the fruit of the Spirit:

Love.

Joy.

Peace.

Patience.

Kindness.

Goodness.

Faithfulness.

Gentleness.

Self-control.

[Galatians 5:22-23]

Notice that we’re not given the fruits of the Spirit.  We’re given the fruit, fruit that is manifested in the list above.  These are not the same as spiritual gifts, of which each has some, but none has all.  On the contrary, if we are in Christ, we have the fruit.  All aspects of it.  We don’t get to say, that’s not my fruit.  Nor do we get to say, God hasn’t developed that fruit in me yet.  Nope.  The fruit is already in us, available to us, and given to us for His good purpose.

Then, why don’t we use it?  If so many of us claim to be disciples, why do our neighbors see us as fruitless?

It seems to me that Christians on both sides of the ballot box have misrepresented themselves in this election.  We have fought so much amongst ourselves to prove to one another that God is on our side that we have forgotten our bigger purpose, which is to love people in Jesus’ name.

I am not saying that, if all Christians were unified, they would all vote for the same party.  Please hear this clearly.  That is not what I am saying.

I have friends and loved ones whom I know to the depths of my soul to be good-hearted people who voted for a different candidate than I did.  I don’t understand their vote.  I know that I have friends and loved ones who know to the depths of their souls that I am a good-hearted person (I hope), yet don’t understand my vote.  Surely, there is a need for us to be able to discuss our differences.

The bigger question, though, is how do we love one another?  How do we love our neighbors?  How do we show the promise of the resurrection to a world full of hurting people in a way that speaks to them in love, rather than in platitudes or judgment?  That serves them in love, rather than ignoring their hurt?

I know I have not done enough.  To those whom I have ignored, those to whom I’ve not taken time to listen, to those whom I have assumed I’ve understood without bothering to find out, to all those whom I have not served as fellow creations of the Holy God, I am sorry.

I’ve got some more thinking to do, and some fruit to nurture while I’m at it.

In the meantime, these words, derived from the teachings of theologian John Wesley, give me a place to start:

Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as you ever can.

Amen.

Advertisements