A Post-Election Message of Hope and Healing
Election 2018 has finally come to an end. For those who may have been suffering from election fatigue these past few weeks, it's a probably a welcome relief.
But now, after months and months of being made aware of all the ways Americans seem to be divided, we will hear (at least for a short season) that we must come together.
Abraham Lincoln, who presided over a much more severely divided nation spoke these words after the Civil War. "We are not enemies but friends," he said, "though passion may have strained...it must not break our bonds of affection."
They are fine words, and historic. But the road to unity is going to be difficult, and there are many among us who are anxious and fearful of what lies ahead.
As the Church, the Body of Christ, we need to lead the way in the healing that must begin after another long and contentious political season.
How can we do this? We can first recognize that as the Church we are called to "unity in diversity," through the power of the Spirit of Christ in us and all around us. The Body of Christ is diverse.
In fact, there are members and friends in my own congregation who gather together each Sunday for worship, sing together in the choir and serve side by side in mission and ministry, who may not agree at all when it comes to politics.
But in this way, we are also reminded how the Body of Christ is also unified.
Paul referred to this in Galatians when he wrote, "There is no longer any Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, for all are made one in Christ." In Philippians Paul exhorted the early church to be "One in spirit and in purpose."
I have many Christian friends all over the country who are despondent today. Many of them have expressed their anxiety over what they deemed unfavorable outcomes in the election in fairly apocalyptic terms---end of the world kind of language. Some of these friends have already expressed their desire to leave their home states, and relocate.
I have other Christian friends who are unbelievably excited and hopeful---triumphant if you will---that (in their minds) a new day has dawned. They believe that God somehow looked favorably upon them and answered their prayers.
As Christians we need to understand that if our outlook of the future and our relationship with God is determined by the outcome of an election, and not by the hope we claim we have in Jesus Christ----then our priorities need adjusting.
To that end---and this is the second way the Church can lead in healing division---we need to look to what unifies us as brothers and sisters in Christ, and live into that hope on a daily basis.
What the world needs to see from the Church is not angry rhetoric or bitterness and fear. The world does not need to see a Church divided by politics but united in the love of Christ and for the purpose of being salt and light. Jesus prayed that his disciples would live out this hope and that they would be a witness:
"My prayer is not for [my disciples] alone," Jesus prayed in John 17. "I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one. Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. In them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
And so, my sisters and brothers...
If you are filled with joy at the outcome of the election, remember this: Your joy today should bring with it a measure of humility and grace, and a sense of duty to heal wounds, find common ground and point to Christ in all that you do.
If you are filled with anxiety and dread on this day, be at peace. We serve a risen Savior, who is at work in and among us in the world. We believe in a Sovereign God, who sets up kings and kingdoms and takes them down.
We are heirs of a hope that is not found in politicians nor the outcome of elections. Live into that hope in a spirit of unity with your brothers and sisters in Christ who perhaps voted differently than you did yesterday, and above all show love and demonstrate the kind of grace that you yourselves have been given.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.