Community in a Political Season

Right now is a challenging time to relate to other people, in my opinion. I’ll be talking to someone at church or work or school, and the conversation will turn in the slightest direction where it may head toward politics, and I’ll feel it. Not every time or every person, but you know it when it is coming. There is a shift in the air. A tension and what feels like an underlying anger. Suddenly where our conversation was light and full of life, it becomes something different. And it will happen. The person will lean in, speak quietly, and state some joke, position or assumption about politics, confident that I share their fears and frustrations.

And the truth is, I don’t. I’ll say something noncommittal, change the subject. Try to return the conversation to the million things we agree upon. But the tension remains. The person I am talking to may have expected me to join in or pile on, but I didn’t, and it has thrown them. My attempt to change the conversation has surprised them. And they’ll soon walk away.

And there it is – disunity.

Courtesy Businessnewsdaily.com

I feel outside. Other. Less than. Because I don’t share a political leaning – I am no longer in community like I would be if I did.

And that’s been a hard feeling to live with this political season. I’m not sure why my friends walk away, maybe they feel exposed or embarrassed? Maybe they are questioning me? I’m not sure. But it happens on both sides of the aisle.

So I don’t speak up about politics even though I have a point of view. Because over and over this election, I have heard friends throw down the gauntlet and say something like “In this election, you can’t be a Christian and vote ________________” or, “In this election, you can’t be a woman and vote _______________.”

And I disagree.

I am a Christian, and a woman, and I do approach the world with a Biblical worldview, and I am very engaged with politics, but I still contend that this election isn’t as simple as some people make it. This election is hard and complicated and I don’t see a savior anywhere in our political arena worthy of saying, “If you don’t vote for this person – you aren’t a true follower of Christ or a real woman.”

I don’t feel that either party represents me as a Christian or as a woman perfectly, so I can understand the rationalization for compromising to vote for either one of our less-than-ideal choices this election. Because of this, you are my brother and my sister if you are the bluest of blues or the reddest of reds. No candidate and no party platform fully encapsulates my views just as no political division overcomes our commands to love one another and live in unity.

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. Eph 4:2-6

I don’t think a political stance is worthy of disunity. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the disunity is an indicator that our political views trump our Kingdom view. Because our commands to love each other and respect the authority under which we are governed were given by men living in an actual police state. We think we have it bad – our environment is a carnival compared to the Roman occupation under which Jesus was crucified. And yet Jesus said to be known by our love and to render unto Caesar and Paul said to live in unity. A presidential race in the US in 2012 is not a worthy reason for Christians to walk away from one another or grow cold toward each other. After the election of President Obama in 2008, someone wrote on Facebook “To give him the power to destroy us is just as dangerous as to give him the power to save us” and I wholeheartedly agreed with that and add Romney’s name to it as well. There is no perfect candidate in this election, and there is no perfectly evil candidate – neither can save or condemn.

Jesus saves. Jesus brings peace. Jesus heals. Jesus provides. Because of Jesus, we live and breathe and have our being (Acts 17:28).

So can we please quit walking away from each other and growing cold toward each other for something so temporal? Who cares if others don’t share our view? Walking away and growing cold makes us small – and we are not small. We are children of Jesus, brothers and sisters who will live together forever in the land of our King, and the things which unify us are a million times stronger than the things which divide us. The enemy divides – Jesus unifies. Let’s join him in that.

Jesus, help us. We deeply desire to live righteous lives, and your command to live in the world but not of it is such a hard command to follow. This world seems all-encompassing and confusing. Please help us. We want to be light – please show us how to do that. It is hard when our self-interest and opinions and “rights” crowd into our perspective. Please help us, convict us and lead us. Please unleash your Holy Spirit to speak truth to us and use us for Your great glory to share truth with others. Please forgive us where we get it wrong. Please help us remove the barriers and cross the divide in relationships grown cold. Please unify your church. Please help us to love. We know you are in control – that you place kings in places of authority and remove them when their time is up. We trust you. Please protect, guide and lead those who lead us. We are in great need of you individually, in our churches and communities, and nationally. You are the source of all that is good in our world, and we need more of you everyday.

*By the way – I’m not equating passion with disunity. I have a friend who is DEEPLY passionate about one political leaning – but I have seen her do this well as she maintains friendships despite deep fundamental disagreements on policy. So the “I’m just passionate” argument doesn’t really hold water with me, because I promise you there are passionate people who are fighting to remain unified despite their passions. It may not be easy, but it is right and worth struggling for.

Between the Beauty and the Chaos

My mind is stuck in Haiti and I write to process, so be warned this is all over the place.  I think about Haiti as I go to sleep and immediately upon waking up.  And yet I am home now and holding my beautiful Bekah and playing with my beautiful Grace in our wonderful home and the stark comparison of those two things just baffles me.  My friend Aaron Ivey wrote an album entitled “Between the Beauty and the Chaos,” and he and his wife share a similar heart with Justin and me, and that sums up where I am.

Last night as I lay in bed trying to sleep I told Justin that it is hard for me to watch the father he is, to watch him dance with Grace while we watch Cinderella, without thinking that every girl deserves a daddy like him.  Here’s the beauty of the life we live.

Jamie and Aaron Ivey’s son, Amos, is still living in an orphanage in Haiti until his adoption is final and for the past two nights they have had to sleep with all 70 children outside because of the aftershocks and the insecurity of their damaged building.  Here is a photograph they posted.  This is the chaos of these precious children’s lives.

A few months ago one of my Compassion kids, Widline Floreal, graduated from the Compassion Program.  I received word that she had come to Christ during her time at the Project, and I prayed that she would know always that Jesus is with her.  Beautiful girl.  I hope she isn’t alone in the chaos.  I hope she’s alive.  I wonder if I’ll ever know.  I pray she knows Jesus loves her and is with her.

We have given to several organizations that are on the ground in Haiti, but it isn’t enough.  We are praying and reading the blogs and calling out to God, and I know in my mind that is more but it still feels like it isn’t enough.  I just want to bring these babies home.  I just want to gather our friends and get them all adopted – be this beautiful rainbow family of people who love Christ.  I just want to see my husband dancing with my daughters from around the world.   I want to be used by God to bring beauty into chaos.  That is why we give.  That is why we pray.  That is why we will adopt.

There is beauty.  I sincerely hope that everyone is giving something to this cause.  If the people who are tweeting links to give to a cause are actually giving, I am thrilled with the generosity we are seeing.   The tweets and blogs from people on the ground in Haiti are so incredibly moving and powerful (@troylivesay, Livesay Blog, the Real Hope for Haiti blog, the Howerton blog), people are helping in extraordinary ways (Fellowship Church Miami’s plane headed to Haiti with food and water 36 hours after the first shaking), people in Haiti are singing worship songs, reading their bible, praying, helping, coming together.  I love this.  This is what we are supposed to be about.

There is chaos.

I know that some people who are my friends are not Believers in Christ, and yet you still read what I write and I thank you for doing so.  I have hesitated to speak to the Pat Robertson comment because I sometimes feel so unwise to respond to such things, but let me simply say this.  He does not speak for me, for any authentic Believer in Christ, or for the Jesus that I read in the Bible.   Pat’s comments were chaos.  We as believers are called to be light and love to this world (Right before Jesus’ death in John 13 he told the disciples A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. Pat’s representation of Christ is not love or light.  I am sorry he claims to speak for us as Believers.

If you care to read it, Donald Miller’s response to Pat’s comments was completely in line with what I feel about Pat Robertson.  I thought his words represented Beauty well.

I thought Keith Olbermann’s response to Pat’s comments were very interesting, and I didn’t know what he was responding to until I looked it up, and I was shocked at the political comments I found.  It is amazing how many people used this horrible tragedy and turned it into political fodder – yet another chance to bash our President.  I am incredibly frustrated with the 24 hour news cycle and with the nonsense it has inflicted on our country and I am frustrated with Fox News and what it has done to Christianity.  We are NOT to be known primarily, or really at all according to my Bible, for our political point of view.   Jesus lived in the time of the Roman Empire, and he never once said to “Rise up and fight, call everyone a fascist and circulate hate through email and picket and be known by your division.”  He said to “render unto Caesar what is Caesars and render unto God what is God’s.”  I’m fine if you vote Republican, so do I. I am fine if you vote for the life of the unborn.  So do I.  But when you politicize everything, including a horrible tragedy such as this situation in Haiti and use it to be hateful, disrespectful, and anything but submissive to the leadership that God has placed over you, you are sinning.  God ordains our leaders.  Look at China.  The church is exploding!  God does not need a Christian in the White House to be glorified.  Read the new Testament, the church was meant to be a subversive force in our culture.  If you are a Believer in Christ and watching Fox News (or MSNBC) and getting all fired up and hateful and divisive, if you are known for that and not for your love for people around you, you are known for the wrong thing.  I am not a sheep.  I am fully aware of what is going on in our country.  But I am not a citizen primarily of this country.  I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God and I will behave as such.  If you are spreading chaos into this world, and not spreading beauty, beware.  You might be about the wrong Kingdom’s business.  Again, I typically don’t speak to this, and you can now see why.  🙂  But this is where I am.  That junk is chaos.  And we are not to be about it.  I’ll now stop spouting my opinions on this, in case you were nervous.

Here’s the truth of where I am today. We live in a horribly fallen world.  It is simply and terribly chaos.  We were meant for another world – for heaven.  A world of beauty.  And in the in between, we are here with a purpose to give God glory and to be a light into darkness.   To bring the beauty of the next life, of peace with God, into the chaos of a fallen world. Jesus please help us to do that.  Jesus please be near to Haiti.  Jesus please hold the fatherless in the palm of your hands, and raise up fathers here with a passion to bring their sons and daughters home.  There are 140 million orphans.  Jesus please call your church to be a forever family to these sweet babies.  Please let no Christian be satisfied to be a citizen of this country.  Please call them to be a citizen of your Kingdom first and foremost.  Jesus help us where we are weak, be great when we are not, and cover over us with your grace when we are decidedly human.   To You and You alone be the glory.