Matthew 5:41 (NIV) — “If anyone forces you to go with them one mile, go with them two.”
It will come as a shock to no one that with the political turnover in Washington later this month, the entire nation is feeling uncertain. This is often the case with large political shifts, but many have spoken to me about what comes next with a genuine fear for the future. We have witnessed distress driven by political partisanship, shock at other people’s choices, and overblown anxiety over “the coming darkness.” We have seen the choices of others ridiculed, the motivations of friends questioned, and the fabric of family relationship shredded, because of this election. And yet, I am convinced that, to be faithful to Christ, we all still need to live in community!
Community is nothing less than the context in which we live our lives, and when that context is challenged people can feel afraid, uncertain and anxious about the future. The problem which faces us is that such fears can dissolve the glue that holds society together. Fears undermine compassion, and they cut the ground of out from under us. As a people of faith, how should we manage such uncertainty? How might we make an impact upon the body politic, (not for the good of one side or the other) but for the sake of community in the sight of God?
I am making my stand here for community, acknowledging that that people matter more than politics, that the future is more than one election, and that God loves us ALL,! Since I resent either the Left or the Right jockeying for position over us, I refuse to live for hate or fear, wealth or power. I am not yet persuaded that folks who voted differently from me are evil, disposable or unhinged. Instead, I believe that when Jesus is at the center of our lives, He can still lead us to show and share mutual respect. And that is where we must begin.
It is just too easy to write off of our fellow citizens, when we see that they think differently than we do. As a followers of Christ, I’m asking us to run (not walk) toward the stranger, the political opposite, the person with strange accent, and different customs. I am calling us to pledge to really get to know them, WITHOUT JUDGEMENT, snide comments or avoidable preconceptions. As sacred community, this is our opportunity and obligation, really, to embrace the stranger, the OTHER, and let them in.
Weak opinions and forced agreements are to be avoided, and genuine interest and human compassion are to be encouraged. This is how we will become stronger through this present uncertainty, and ease the fears that drive us to anxious living, fear based assessments and poor choices. I am not asking anyone to give up their values, or political opinions. I don’t want to be asked to surrender mine. As your Pastor, I’m simply calling us to go the extra mile, bearing one another’s burdens, so that we might still be sacred community to each other, representing Jesus Christ to a hurting, frightened and uncertain world.
This is Citizenship. This is what it means to be a responsible adult. This is Epiphany; the manifestation of Christ in the face of our fears!