Happy election day! I’m sitting here waiting for an oil change before I head to the polls, so I thought I’d just lay out a few quick thoughts about this very heated midterm election season.
First, I cannot wait to stop hearing campaign ads—anyone else? I know negative campaign ads are pretty much par for the course during a big election, but it’s still just so exhausting to be constantly bombarded with them. Here’s something I’ve realized over the past few years, though: If you can tune out the noise of the talking heads on TV and radio, and instead tune in to the real people in your life—your neighbor, your co-worker, your friend from the gym—you may find the rhetoric to be softer. You may just find that understanding is closer than you thought. That what divides us is far less significant that what unites us. You might find that most of us want the same things, and are hopeful for the same positive outcomes, despite our differences of opinion in how we will get there. You’ll find that most people allow room for nuance when it comes to difficult issues, and you might be surprised at the personal stories and experiences that have led people to believe the way they do—and surprised at how these stories can impact your beliefs as well.
Despite being tired of the negativity and the ostentatious rhetoric drawn out over elections, I think it’s so important to engage in the political process and to be wise with how we cast our vote. Research, listen to debates, engage, be informed. Pay attention to your what’s going on in your local government, and make your voice heard. This is how we as average citizens can affect change. Where we can get into trouble, though, is insisting that our way, our candidate, our idea, is the only right way—and, more weightily, that our side is “God’s side.” The creator of the universe could never be beholden to a political party. Our earthly ideas are inherently flawed, our leaders are all imperfect, and there is discord and wrongdoing on both sides of the aisle. Let’s be careful where we try to put the stamp of God’s approval.
When it’s all said and done, after everyone has taken their turns in the voting booths across the country today, the most important thing is this: that we love one another. For real. I’m not being cute or cliche here—I mean it. Jesus commands this of us. He told us in plain-as-day language that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus didn’t come to earth, die on a cross, rise from the dead, and tell his followers to go spread the good news of forgiveness and redemption, for us to cast stones at one another over a political election. He didn’t say people will recognize us by our political party. He said they would recognize us by our love. Your brothers and sisters in Christ may very well support a different political candidate than you. Great. Love them. They might disagree with you over the best way to accomplish a certain goal. Okay. Love them.
Love them, and love them well. Sometimes we are tempted to put so much faith into these human leaders and agendas and policies, yet we can forget the greatest tool God provided us with. Love has so much more power than we give it credit for. Love keeps us anchored, regardless of which way the political winds blow. God is still sovereign, regardless of who is in office.
Okay, hopping off the soap box now. Go vote, friends! And smile at everyone at your polling station, including the person handing out flyers for the candidate you’re not voting for.
“Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love–but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13