I received an email the other day that I was inclined to ignore at first.
It was addressed to several different ministries, including ours, calling us to task for failing to address the political campaign in the US. In particular, I was accused of remaining silent about the slander that Christians (and others) have been propagating about the political candidates.
The ironic truth is that, precisely because my email box has been filled with "Christian" political bile against both sets of candidates, I at first took this email to be yet another screed. Most of what passes for popular Christian political dialogue has been either strident complaints against the evilness of a candidate or declarations of the God-ordained anointing of another. I've heard it both ways, and both sides have little grace.
So I ignored the email at first, though it slowly gnawed at me until I reread it as a needed call to simple Christian charity and honesty.
So it brings me to a few observations.
First, the candidates are broken image-bearers of God, just like the rest of us. They will neither inaugurate the abundant shalom of God's Kingdom (someone did that already) nor become the devil incarnate. They are sinful people whom God loves, and we pray they will be increasingly transformed by His Spirit and love God back. Let's talk about their ideas and find some grace for them as people. To put a finer point on it, I'm talking about the candidate you don't support.
Second, let's remember the church is God's called-out people of all nations of all time. It crosses all cultures and includes the saints born long before 1776. One of the reasons we haven't addressed the election much in our programming is that we have an international audience. As it happens, I'm writing this from Cyprus, in the Middle East, where I'm attending a conference. This morning I worshiped with Christians from about twenty different nations, with different languages, skin colors, cultures, and forms of government. As we sang and prayed with a range of accents and languages, it was a glimpse of God's kingdom as described in Isaiah 60 and Revelation 21 as the gathering in of all nations.
In short, the church is way bigger than any single country, transcending all ethnic and political boarders.To bring this perspective to bear on the election, let's remember that the church is not equal to nor even centered in America. The USA matters to God, but not more than any other state. America as a state has been blessed by God immensely, which means we have much responsibility to be a blessing to others. We love our country as a gift of God, but it is not God's ordained favorite. The election is important because America wields power for good and ill. The world is watching because what we do affects them. This election is about people hopefully doing their best to to love God first and their neighbors as themselves, not about God's chosen candidate.
Third, the world is watching, and this kind of rhetoric is no witness to a dark world. This rhetoric is slander and prideful lies, and people of all cultures and religions know hatefulness when they see it. Trash-talking candidates is something over which we should repent and ask forgiveness. Let us be a voice of grace, a presence that makes people wish to join us.
So sorry to come out swinging, but it's the same every few years. We're called out to show more fruit of the spirit than that.