The Rev. Dr. Blair Monie used to tell a story about his father and his father’s best friend. They played golf, ate meals together, and their families would enjoy spending time together. Blair remembers with fondness, though, what would happen when they started talking about politics. They would get into heated arguments about the party for which each stood. Each one vehemently supported his political views. They did not put each other down or call the other names. They respectfully differed and did so with passion. Then, when they were done arguing, they continued their friendship without concern. This took place repeatedly, as Blair would recall.
There are several faith matters this story and our current election process bring up. First, if we can argue and remain in relationship with others, in today’s world that’s a faith statement. What makes it a faith statement is not having to lower one’s self to call another names or to categorize him or her. To argue one’s beliefs is one thing. To act uncivilly is another.
Second, if you are sick and tired of this election, I believe it shows that you have a mind and a heart. If you weren’t disturbed, I’d be much more so. At some level, we are concerned because we care about our future as a nation, we care about our communities, our families and about God’s world.
Third, wherever you may find yourself, you may be sitting next to someone who differs politically from you. It is true even in church. As church folk, we read the Bible and we have different perspectives. We have different gifts that get used for the building up of the body of Christ or our community or our nation. In addition, sitting next to someone who differs from us outside the church does not give us permission to forget we are members of God’s household – a household that embraces many belief traditions.
Fourth, you can be a leader in every aspect of your life. It may not be easy to act with integrity, but it is what we are called to do. We are to model God’s grace and intention in every exchange. Hopefully, most of us will soon exercise our leadership at the polls.
On my way home recently from a trip to Houston, I ended up next to a younger man who differed greatly from me in a number of areas. At the same time there were differences, he is a strong Christian and believer. He attends church faithfully. He’s a husband of a beautiful wife (I saw a picture) and two lovely children (I saw a picture of them, too). As we conversed, exchanging differing views of the Bible as well as the political scene, we each held our ground in a loving manner. Upon reflection, I give both of us credit. We were able to part without upset and to wish God’s blessing upon the other as we left the airplane. I thanked God for the opportunity to maintain a sense of grace in the exchange. Just because I’m a pastor doesn’t mean there weren’t moments when I was challenged. Thankfully, I prayed throughout the conversation and God helped to guide me.
Pretty soon the decision for our next President will be made. I pray our actions and conversations during the political process will be of the same type we have afterwards. Conversations where we use our God-given minds and hearts as we watch the future unfold.
Yours in Christ,