Watching this election unfold, it’s often hard to imagine a good outcome, no matter who wins. Campaigns gain support through dehumanizing the opposition, and debates focus more on attacking each other’s characters than the actual issues. The news becomes harder and harder to stomach by the day. But the hardest part for me is to see how deeply divided the United States has become. The political divide has grown so great that many days I despair of ever seeing it bridged.
We have become a country of “us vs. them,” a country of “if you’re not for me you’re against me,” a country that considers dehumanization and hate normal, a country of people that value being right over being kind.
I’ve seen this rhetoric from all points on the political spectrum, and I am ashamed to say that at times I have participated in it myself. I have my own opinions on the candidates and issues at hand, but I am not interested in debating which party has engaged in more hate-filled rhetoric or which candidate has committed worse deeds. Accusations of hate, bigotry, cheating, and immorality only cause people to become more defensive and unwilling to listen. No one has ever changed their mind because someone attacked their character and beliefs. If we truly want to bridge the divide between political parties, we have to stop accusing, and start seeing others for the broken, but beloved children of God they are.
In Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus says “You have heard it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (NIV). Politicians will tell you to love your party and hate anyone who disagrees with you. But what if we refused to listen to them? What if instead of hating our opponents we loved them? What if instead of attacking them we prayed for them? I don’t expect the entire country to change overnight, but imagine if even just a few people committed to love instead of hate. Imagine the ripple effect on the people around them. The path to healing for our country won’t be found in proving our beliefs, but in proving our love.
As Christians we are called to love, not hate, but as a majority Christian country we seem to have forgotten. So my friends, I invite you to pray with me over the next two and a half weeks. Pray with me not for a particular candidate to win, but that on election day we will have unity, forgiveness and peace. Pray with me that the winners can show grace and the losers acceptance. And join me in a commitment to let go of the hateful rhetoric that divides us, and cling to the love that heals us.