As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
We are exactly two weeks away from Election Day, and here in the swing state of Ohio, the political posturing is getting more and more intense. Last night was the third and final debate between the presidential candidates, and it continued to feature a combative, accusatory tone. Each candidate and party is trying to convince us that they are the good guys (and gals), and that the other side is inconsistent, ignorant, inept and worse.
Within Christian circles, the vitriol of the general populous is just as evident, and often even more so. Because this isn’t just about an election; this is about identity. Who we vote for says something about what we value and what our priorities are. When those values and priorities don’t align, it is all too easy to begin questioning someone else’s salvation. We quickly become the judge and jury of our brothers and sisters based on their political positions.
So what does Christian unity look like in this situation? How can we rise above the caustic rhetoric being flung around on ads and on Facebook walls? I have a few suggestions:
- Assume the best about those who take different positions than you. Regardless of what the email forward says, people who support a different party or candidate are not the spawn of Satan. In fact, they probably share a lot in common with you.
- Don’t make sweeping comments about parties or politicians through social media. I know it’s tempting, but this is often the cause of severe misunderstandings and unnecessary conflict. Just because our culture operates in sounds bites and one-liners, doesn’t mean we have to.
- Invite someone you know you disagree with politically out to coffee or lunch. The positive corollary to the previous prohibition. Set some ground rules and frame the conversation in such a way that understanding is the goal, not someone trying to win an argument.
- Pray for the protection and well-being of candidates with whom you disagree. The strain and pressure of political life is something most of us have no clue about. Praying for people that we tend to demonize helps us remember that they are made in God’s image and are also loved, regardless of their stances.
- Attend one of the Election Day Communion services on Nov. 6 (and invite that person you took out to lunch!). Both Cincinnati Mennonite Church in Oakley and Church of the Redeemer in Hyde Park will be hosting services at 7:30pm as a symbol of our unity in Christ. This is a way for us to tangibly demonstrate that what binds us together is more powerful that what divides us. I hope to see you there!