It is election day in America as I write. When this is posted, the results of the elections may or may not be clear. My prayers for the election have centered on seeking God's mercy instead of judgment in raising up leaders who love Him and know His Word, and on seeking God's mercy by preserving peace during a time of increasing violence.
But my deeper prayers and, honestly, my greater concerns are for the testimony of the church. We are being swept by the undertow of a wildly polarized time. Media outlets and social media both work to push us toward one side or the other, and teach us to see people only in light of their political leanings. Few civil leaders show any interest or ability in righting the ship by displacing politics with genuine community at the center of our society. Genuine, deep, and polite debates are nowhere to be found. Our leaders now take delight in insults and half-truths. And the church seems to be caught up in it all. But what an opportunity!
Much has already been written about how the American church's testimony is, to many eyes, suffering greatly at the moment. Some accuse Christians who support President Trump of abandoning past morality and playing the same pragmatic game as every worldly politician. Others accuse Christians who don't support the President of abandoning God's call to love life and joining forces with those who hate God's Word. For those who want it, there's many reasons to ignore the church, now more than ever.
But again, what an opportunity! While we prayerfully vote (or abstain from voting), while we engage as citizens concerned for righteousness and justice, what would it look like if we engaged primarily as citizens of heaven? In what ways can the church in America shine like a city on a hill right now?
We can bear the testimony of kindness, gentleness, meekness and humility. While our world increasingly trades in pride, bluster, and self-serving strength, we can show the beauty of the way of Jesus.
We can bear the testimony of the reality of a heaven and the immortality of human souls. We can judge current events by eternity's reality.
We can bear the testimony of an understanding-transcending peace, the fruit of a faith which believes God's promises about the future and man's inability to change those one bit. We can be fully informed without being afraid.
We can bear the testimony of truth and truthfulness, regardless of how our leaders or the media conduct their business.
We can joyfully bear the testimony of Jesus' kingship, a position not up for election and a throne not threatened by anyone or anything.
We can bear the testimony that politics aren't the center of our lives together or even a defining feature.
We can bear the testimony of being a community of boundary-crossing, sacrificial love. Where else but the church can there be genuine diversity held together with a love that can't be broken?
We can bear the testimony of God's image in all of mankind, by our kindness toward all and our defense of rights God built into that image.
We can bear the testimony of suffering, or at least preparing to suffer. Understanding our call to follow a suffering Savior, we can prepare our hearts and families to live lives of Christlike love in communities where such love is called hate.
Whatever happens in this election or the next, our Christian calling of following Jesus and being His light in this world will not change. And the darker things get, the brighter the line can and must shine.