I am tired. I am only twenty-two years old and I am tired.
I was voted “Most Likely to be in Government” when I was in sixth grade after losing quite badly to the presidency of student government for the seventh-grade year (I’m sure there were popularity reasons to blame but it still sucked). I realized quite quickly that government and political agendas were going to be a spiritual/emotional battlefield for me following the result of that time. I continued being involved in the student council for about two more years having only achieved a few more service hours before officially announcing my retirement at the kitchen table at home. Not to be dramatic or anything, but ever since my retirement I have consistently found myself wondering about the platforms I would have run on if I had continued my career. I’m talking staggering the lunch hours so that kids were not eating lunch at 10:30, bringing in public speakers to encourage students, and even sponsoring events that developed student involvement on a massive scale. All jokes aside, I think political stances would have consumed my identity (as all controversial/polarizing subjects tend to do with me).
But, as I grew up, the political climate gained polarizing traction, and choosing sides became a fad based on right and wrong. Hanging on the border of conflicting ideas was no longer an option, a new political force showed up and aggressively declared that the other side was evil and stoked a fire in fear forcing anyone on the edge of the line to join or step aside. This leader clearly set division as the standard for the country, he ran on the platform of division to cut down any political opponents in his way. Calling into question the validity and truthfulness of everything, allowing his voters to do the same for anything critical of this leader (this also bled into a belief that we can toss aside anything critical of us). If it is not clear, although it should be, the leader I am talking about is Donald Trump.
I am typically silent on the plains of the political spectrum because I see it as a divisive tool that satan uses to polarize God’s people. Although I have always tried to keep in tune with the current issues of the day (this stems from the childhood superlative “Most Likely to be in Government”), the amount of claims and public statements being made makes the civic duty of being informed a full-time job. It is exhausting. However, I attempted to tune in to the debate this week and found myself heartbroken in response to the subject matter spewing from the screen. In fact, I was only able to stay for an hour before the actions on the screen started speaking darkness into my heart.
Throughout the debate I was texting people, mostly jokes about what was going on, my favorite one that I saw was “Out of all of the incredible men and women in this country, these are the best two that we could come up with?” In all fairness, this is both a hilarious and a sad observation for our current political environment. But as the debate stretched on, my observations became less and less humorous and more and more angry. I was filled with anger until I found it within myself to know that I had seen enough.
I know myself well enough to know that I am typically an emotionally charged person. Before anything else, I rely on my gut feelings to make a decision. Sometimes I change my mind with enough convincing from delving into intellectual conversation and observation but I am usually on the same wavelength as my gut. And during that debate, my gut was screaming at me.
“Why would anyone vote for this man”
Of course, I know there are many sides to every story, but I could not help but have my heart broken by the irreverent treatment that Trump gave to anyone that spoke during the debate. Not once did he allow himself to listen. Not once did he let either the moderator or his opponent respectfully engage him in a discussion. This was no debate, it was a tantrum. I will not be completely ignorant and just aim my distaste in the debate towards Trump, both candidates did not have pretty moments. Both candidates are not perfect whatsoever. We should hold each of these candidates to the same standard. But as my gut screamed, it was so hard for me to make peace with the love of Jesus and the rhetoric of Trump.
Do you know why? Because a majority of what Trump has done (publicly) is not reflective of the love of Jesus.
You can make the argument that the media twists everything (and generally you would be right, the media typically exaggerates the worst characteristics of everyone who walks in public) but I beg of you, if you consider yourself a believer, please watch ten minutes of the debate and tell me that Trump exhibits the love of Jesus.
He does not.
I will be the first to admit that I suck at it sometimes too, so does the other candidate, so do you. Many people struggle to show the love of Jesus because (newsflash) we are not Jesus. But that does not mean we should not try. And what I saw last night, I saw no attempt to show the love or peace of Jesus from Trump. The other candidate, when flustered, also struggled at times to respond with love but eventually exhibited respect (again, both candidates were just awful to each other but if you had to choose one, it was clearly not Trump). I was impressed that the other candidate still showed respect considering the words that Trump used when pointing out the drug addiction that this candidate’s son faced. It was absolutely abhorrent to see such a low blow from Trump, a candidate who is supported by so many conservative Christians. As the debate dragged on it appeared that Trump even struggled with showing respect to the moderator, a moderator who was provided by a news source that Trump supports.
So what is my point?
My point is, that to be a people that loves as Jesus loves, we must become a people of peace. Becoming like the One who preaches peace. We must be His instruments of peace so that we may partake in His mission. That was a lot.
Why should you care whether or not Trump exhibits love or peace in general?
Because he panders to the conservative Christian by posing in front of churches with bibles after tear-gassing hundreds of people. Because he posts pictures of pastors praying over him in the Oval Office. Because he retweets people of faith who vocally support him. He abuses the voices of Christians for their votes, he insinuates fear of “the left” or “Antifa” or “BLM” (and if you truly are fearful of these things, give me a factual reason why. Give me something that is not rooted in fear). Donald Trump stokes fear in people so that he has a guarantee that you will vote for him. He stokes fear so that he can shame you for not caring about your country.
Since when do we let shame determine who we vote for or how we love? Since when do the people of God allow for political divisiveness speak into the mission of God? Since when did we forget that Jesus said that when Satan lies he speaks his native language, for he is the father of lies? So why do we let this man lie to us and yet we choose to believe that he is an advocate for our faith?
Because we are so afraid of what will happen if we make the wrong choice. The wrong vote.
But why should this govern our relationship with others?
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:34-35, ESV
We are in a new age of technology. A time in the world where everything is being morphed into something new for us to consume. We have a “controlled” access to whatever we are interested in. This gives us no time to truly learn what it means to love those around us.
People today argue that our culture is more divided than ever before and they might be right, who knows? But what I am asking and pushing us to consider is the art of listening. The art of knowing that there is a way for all of us to share a space of peace. A space of love. Loving like Jesus means being quick to listen and slow to speak. Jesus was a man who sought social justice so that we would know His love. We should take this opportunity to love others as an opportunity to know His other children, we might be sharing eternity with them, right?
I am not going to tell you who to vote for. That is not my place. But I merely want to ask that you listen. Don’t just listen to me say these things but listen to the ones in power and truly hear what exactly they are saying.
To put it plainly. We are sheep. I find it easy being a sheep without a shepherd in times like this. During these times I see why other believers add themselves to a flock of a political agenda, it’s easy.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”John 10:11-16, ESV
Go read that verse once more, slowly.
He is the Good Shepherd.
Over the past few months, I took a break from writing because I lost my voice. I was faced with this realization that if I was going to keep writing that meant I was going to have to show more of my heart. Even if it confuses my friends and my family. I quit writing for a while because I was afraid of writing this post. A post that asks you not to vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming election. But here I am, writing this post and asking you. Do not vote for Donald Trump.
I am not asking you to vote for the other candidate. This statement does not mean that I am a Democrat. It does not mean I am a Republican. I give this ask because I am tired of seeing our church and the mission of God becoming a victim of misinformation about the love of God. I’m heartbroken when I see comments about Christianity either in person or on social media in reference to Trump. Trump is not Jesus, nor does he exhibit the love of Jesus. If we continue to give Trump a platform what makes us think that we are going to have guests come to the church and hear about Jesus? What makes us think that we are going to invite new brothers and sisters into the arms of Christ?
Why am I just now writing these things? Because I changed my mind. I think as believers we must be willing and open to changing our minds so that we can see the mystery of God from different perspectives (even God changed His mind at different points in the grand narrative, it’s probably a reason why so many of us are still here). What would happen if we could normalize changing our minds?
My heart breaks for the people of this country. We are sorely missing the love of God. I think it is time for the church to vote out of love instead of fear. God has already won. Death is defeated for those of us who have faith in the living God. If we vote out of love we may just get an opportunity to love those who are different than us deeper than ever before.
Jesus was a peacemaker. If we wish to be like Jesus we must seek peace in everything that we do. Stop this overt aggression towards differences.
The one time Jesus explicitly expressed aggression in any form was when he went to the temple in Jerusalem and drove out sellers and traders. Flipping tables and cracking a whip declaring that His Father’s house is not a house of trade. Although our leaders express anger on a level unprecedented, I see none of this righteous anger in our political leaders for the sake of godly leadership. So why do we make excuses for them when they declare that there needs to be “Law & Order.” Law and order is an idea so rooted in fear and the expectations of authoritarian leadership, why do we see this as a good thing?
The church of today is not a political icon or a house of trade. Why are we trading our political stance as the most valuable resource we have? If we truly seek to be a nation under God, that nation will not come in the form of being an American. It comes when we seek first His Kingdom and love our neighbors out of the goodness of God. America is not God’s country. No country will ever be God’s country. That time came and passed with the destruction of the nation of Israel and the last kings of Israel and Judah. We are now a people of God under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our nation and Kingdom is not on this earth so why do we continue to believe that it will be?
If we are not to conquer nations or violently set up a nation in the name of God, our mission is to be a people of peace. Becoming peace so that all may know that the God of creation is a Father that loves His children. No one has ever become a believer by the edge of a sword. They have become believers by the love that is shown through the peace that the Father invites us into. So we must also become advocates for peace if we are to exhibit the love of Jesus.
We must be peace makers if we are to love as Jesus loved.
My favorite hymn growing up was the prayer of Saint Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace Where there is hatred, let me bring love Where there is offense, let me bring pardon Where there is discord, let me bring union Where there is error, let me bring truth Where there is doubt, let me bring faith Where there is despair, let me bring hope Where there is darkness, let me bring Your light Where there is sadness, let me bring joy O Master, let me not seek as much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is igniting that one receives, it is in self-forgetting that one finds, it is in pardoning that one is pardoned, it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
Becoming an instrument of peace is vital in showing the love that the Father offers to His children. So as the Father loves, so must we love.
There are many more elements to what I have to say about these bold asks, but I think the time is coming where I wrap this writing up for the week.
One of these elements, which relates to technology, I want to bring up next week at some point. But before you read what I have to say it, would be better if you came in with some context.
Next week be sure to watch the documentary “The Social Dilemma” here is the trailer:
I think this documentary speaks deeply into the age of misinformation and technology and leaves the viewer longing for a solution to the problem it presents. Next week I hope to enter into that while also referencing much of what I said above. It’ll connect, I promise.
If you made it this far, way to go. That was a lot. Over the past few weeks, I have been enveloped with grad school at Abilene Christian University getting my Masters in Global Service. Although I have many things on my plate, I believe it is important for me to reflect on these things and invite others to my vulnerabilities in thought. So, for the next period of time, I am hoping to improve my writing and process so that I may be able to share what is on my heart and what I am wrestling with. May grace and peace go with you, be blessed by the One who declares us beloved.