It is the time of year that we are all herded into one of two polarized categories. The cultural pressure in America is either to be Republican or Democrat in terms of your politics. Especially in a presidential election year, the polarization between the groups results in an ever-widening gap, one that is emotionally charged to the point of being dangerous in places.
Both groups want to claim ownership of anything good that happens while both blame each other for anything bad. One candidate claims that if the other is elected the racial unrest will deepen in our country. Whether it is true or not the very suggestion sets up the likelihood of unrest after the election should that candidate win.
The other candidate claims that the only way his side could lose is if the election is rigged. That claim also, whether true or not, sets up the likelihood of unrest should his opponent win. Dedicated proponents of both parties engage in angry, insult laced, tirades against the positions of the other side and their candidates. Their tirades on social media and in interviews only raises the level of vitriol and increases the levels of emotion around the election to dangerous levels.
We have witnessed this happening in other countries but lately it is happening here.
Is it possible that Christians can be part of the solution to an ever-broadening gap between people in our country? Could it be that the two-part mandate to love God and love others could turn the tide of hatred and violence we see happening in our country on the nightly news? I believe it is possible but only with godly wisdom and a commitment to rise above the fray.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul addressed the divide between Jews and Greeks in the first century. The two ethnic groups both claimed superiority over the other and hatred for those in the opposite group was the cultural norm. At the end of chapter three in his letter (verses 26-28) he says this.
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Paul insisted that they view one another through a different lens. They were to extricate themselves from the cultural angst and rise above it. When they became followers of Jesus, they became Christians first (ie. ‘clothed themselves with Christ’) and not Jew or Greek or any of the other labels that separated people. They were one in Christ.
Jesus was their identity – not their gender, not their position in life, not their ethnicity, only Jesus. With that common identity, they were one in Christ and their devotion to Christ forced them to be devoted to one another. When they were devoted to one another, the way they thought about things moved closer and closer together.
Frankly, I wish that all believers would drop the political labels and just be Christians. I would love to see us forgo the arrogance of political rightness and center ourselves on the message of the cross and the mission of the Kingdom. America will go as God allows. Only His Kingdom will affect the needed changes of heart that will take the people of this country in the right direction.
I wish that all believers would take off the garb of political affiliation and put on Christ only. Let him be the change our world needs; the change that brings people together around the cross.