Election Crazy & The Jesus Way

I awoke today distressed, and not about the impending results of the election today. (Though, if I’m honest, that alone is enough to distress me. I seem to care more about this election that I probably should.)

This “caring probably more than I should” is why I really empathize with others who are deeply invested in the outcome. Whether their vote matches mine or they vote differently, I understand that today is wrapped in an awkward bundle of passion, hope and fear.

I get it. BELIEVE me, I do.

But that’s not what’s behind my distress.

Surprisingly, it’s not the sour taste that a long campaign season leaves, or the general weariness resulting from my attempt to consume somewhat balanced media regarding “the issues”. It’s not the ads, the opinion pieces, or the yard signs.

It’s about how many who openly call themselves followers of Christ are handling the ‘bigness’ and stress of today. And it breaks my heart.

Spending time on Facebook during election season has involved my seeing which of my friends ‘like’ Mr. Romney or Mr. Obama. Though I know this type of activity drives some people to a self-imposed media fast, it doesn’t bother me. I confess, the Social Studies teacher in me appreciates seeing the democratic process at work, and feel that it can be valuable for people to put words around the reasons why they support specific measures or candidates.

Checking Facebook last night was different, though. A political group appeared in the sidebar ticker that provides updates about what friends and family are doing online. I was not terribly surprised to see a group called “I will NOT vote for (fill in a candidate name here, since there are groups for both major candidates) in 2012” pop up in my feed, as I have family and friends all across the political spectrum. As I looked closer at the ticker, I noticed that a number of my friends were members of one of these groups, all of whom are Christ-followers, several who hold positions of leadership in the Church or community of faith.

Intrigued, I clicked over to see what kept the group going after members shared to whom they would (or would not, as the case may be) give their vote. The overall tone felt disrespectful toward those who felt differently about the upcoming election. The site moderators primarily posted opinion pieces, political cartoons/memes and election news coverage while group members engaged in name calling and open mockery of people who believed differently.

As I was thinking about the cognitive dissonance I felt over Christian leaders participating publicly in groups characterized by disrespectful and overtly negative tone, a new group showed up in my ticker: “Christians against Obama’s reelection”. Like the previous group, several publicly professing Christian friends were members. Hoping that there would be a difference between the tone of the two groups since the second publicly declared itself to be Christian, I clicked over to check out the page.

I was horrified.

Aggressive and abusive language. Name calling and hate speech. Verses pulled from the Bible and applied with seeming disregard for context.

The worst came with a short scroll down the page. A group member composed an election day prayer that the moderator(s) shared publicly. Among accusations of the President being a treacherous, lying Muslim who is “owned by the Brotherhood”, the prayer calls on God to “rid the world” of President Obama, explicitly calling him “evil” and “Satan’s child”. Last night at midnight there were 41 ‘likes’ and several comments supporting the message, most with an all-caps ‘amen’. (Mercifully, the comments section is now disabled.) By mid morning today there are 199 ‘likes’ and 82 ‘shares’.

My heart breaks over this.

199 Christians publicly judging that our President acts on behalf of Satan and calling for his death.  82 Christians sharing this ‘prayer’ in the name of Jesus.

Is it any wonder that people aren’t always jumping to learn more about the good news of Jesus?

God, forgive us.

This morning I found myself singing one of my favorite songs performed (and composed, I believe) by William and Jacob Jolliff: “Oh, the Jesus Way”. It feels timely in light of what I read last night on Facebook and what type of conduct today almost certainly holds as election results unfold.

Oh, the Jesus way

Is the way of peace

Oh, the Jesus way

Is the way of peace

Oh, the Jesus way is the way of peace

When He is King all wars will cease

May his peace begin with me.

When Christ is King, all wars (including political fighting) will end. When we choose the way of Jesus we choose peace: in our hearts, in our families, in our work, and on Facebook. Even on election day.

May we remember, today and always, that in Christ alone our hope is found, not in any candidate or political party. May we remember we have an incredible privilege and responsibility to represent Jesus with our actions and words, for better or worse. May we be constantly mindful that choosing the way of peace is an act of worship, and lean into the reality that the Jolliffs share: the peace of Jesus begins with us now.

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10 thoughts on “Election Crazy & The Jesus Way

  1. The best thing I’ve read about the election today. I resonate SO MUCH with your feelings. I also think I care too intensely about this election, in part because of the intensity of folks who use such freighted language about their candidates, connecting their candidates to God and “biblical values.” Thank you for reminding me where to put my hope.

    • It’s become a moment-by-moment self-check for me. When I feel myself losing patience or the temper flaring (unfortunately far more often than I’d like), I try to center myself on this truth: my hope is in Christ alone. In Christ. Alone. And then I repeat, as many times as necessary to keep my crap together.

      Certainly humbling how often I need the reminder. And how often my ‘crap’ is exposed.

      It’s certainly not an easy or fun practice, though very effective in providing fresh perspective. And anyway, it doesn’t seem that Christ often calls us to the easy road.;)

  2. “All of us know the man (or, just as frequently, the woman) who maintains, and appears to sincerely believe, that if only this or that political system were to swallow all its rivals and prevail the millennium would arrive immediately. What makes the rest of us faintly suspicious is not that we have cut-and-dried counter-arguments but merely that we do not believe that any political system, by itself, can make humanity entirely fulfilled and contented.” John Wain “Samuel Johnson, A Biography” Sad enough that anyone would be duped into believing in a political salvation; heartbreaking that so many professing to be Christ-followers have been apparently deceived by this lie.

    • “…we do not believe that any political system, by itself, can make humanity entirely fulfilled and contented.”

      YES! Well-spoken sentiment that hits home for me.

  3. As I read your post today, I was reminded of professors I had in college at the time George W. was president, who were leaders of the church and self-professing pacifists. It was an interesting experience to be sitting in class to learn about Jesus and Friends doctrine and instead hear a violent rant about the evil that is George W. (a very jarring and dissonant experience). Here’s the thing: My professors at the time were and still are good people. But what it taught me is that we all are susceptible to sin. We all, even those we would call weighty Friends or righteous followers of Christ, have our weaknesses. That is why scripture calls us to put our focus on Jesus and not get distracted by all the other stuff. Thanks for sharing today. It’s important that we who follow Christ don’t just talk about following Jesus well, but that we actually put into practice in our daily lives the things that Jesus calls us to. God forgive us, and God please help us to learn your way.

    • Good word, Scott. I’m so thankful that God’s forgiveness and grace can carry the sins and weaknesses we all bear, and can provide strength and guidance to live as Jesus calls. Jesus, lead on!

    • I admit I get nervous when the things I say or believe “feel right” — I worry that I might rely solely on my feelings instead of holding my beliefs and words up to the Light of Christ and Scripture for validation. (I have a tendency to be really good at validating my own thoughts.) 😉

      So far this seems pretty consistent with my understanding of the Bible and Jesus’ teaching. (I’m pretty sure when Jesus told us to ‘love our neighbor’ he meant not wish death upon them.) 😉

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