I am slowly recovering from all that has happened over the last few weeks regarding the American Presidential election. But one thing that continues to bother me, and it is something that should not be simply swept under the rug, is how we saw the worst part of ourselves throughout this process. The “we” refers here to self-proclaimed Christians, myself included. Somehow, given the stakes of all that was involved, Christians devolved time and time again in the manner in which we conducted ourselves and the way we characterized others and tolerated various kinds of hate-speech. Our manner of expression often became crude, and our generosity often fell by the wayside. In short, we got caught up in a process, and we are worse for it since we did not check ourselves. We repeatedly lost “the mind of Christ.”
Where do we go from here?
At some point, we need to confess to one another, to ourselves, and to the God we worship that we lost sight of the humanity of others in this process. Somehow, we allowed a two-party system to make it an “us vs. them,” and so we failed to cultivate a kingdom-imagination in which Christians can promote various Christian causes from both sides of the aisle.
Frankly, as I have seen time and time again on the American scene, Christian identity was politicized in this election, and as such, it became one factor in a larger ideological battle. And when a battle becomes ideological, the humanity of those engaged is lost.When this happens, the gospel is lost, too. We quenched the Spirit time and time again during this season when we failed to listen to one another, to give each other respect and dignity, to stand up for vulnerable populations, and to disagree with one other while still extending the peace of Christ.
I hope that one of the takeaways from this election is that we realize just how we continue to fall short of the peaceable kingdom, that polis whose “constitution” is the Beatitudes. If we can truly be honest with what we learned about ourselves during this process, maybe we can see where grace has to touch us. And maybe we can conduct ourselves in a more Christ-like fashion, not just four years from now but on a daily basis, especially with those who don’t think, talk, or look like us.
A presidential election, with the stakes being so high, is a spiritual barometer for how faithfully we heed the call of Christ. How did we do? What have we learned about our character? And what do we do now?