Last week, on my way to record a sermon for a coming Sunday’s worship service at one of our churches, I pulled up at a stoplight immediately behind a car hosting a fascinating pair of rear bumper stickers with a stick-on cross in-between. One sticker had lots of words: 2 lines, a website reference, and more. The top line read, “My faith votes,” the bottom, “Because my faith matters.” I get it. My faith matters to me and I regularly vote and my voting record reflects how I think our nation, our state, and my county might best be led in ways to reflect my faith. I know that’s what Christian do.
So I looked at the other bumper sticker. The driver was still promoting a candidate from an election of several years ago, a person whom I respect but for whom I have never seriously considered offering any support, certainly not my vote.
If we can remain calm to talk about it: the other driver and I illustrate a dilemma. I assume she is at worship regularly just as I am, online for now. We honor a common marvelous Lord: we are in biblical language, sister, and brother. But can we love each other even if we disagree about the implications and the directions of our common Christian belief?
For generations, in our society, the answer was, “Yes.” Thanks be to God. But as we know too well, in some places that ability has shrunk and we have all gone to our respective corners and don’t really listen nor really talk to each other easily about these matters.
Why? And what’s the answer?
I think a huge part of the problem is where we start and where we put our emphasis.
If you emphasize the end result first (the outcome or candidate or position) without first talking about the common faith, without sharing respectfully about each other’s experience of Grace, it will be hard to talk civilly, let alone as Christians should about the rest.
This is not naïve wishing. You can share the Word, pray for each other and each other’s families, someday (again) eat the Holy Meal together, and serve others together and still have strong vociferous disagreements about all sorts of things within the Body of Christ. Just look inside almost any local church and you will see that reality being lived out. But where Christ is truly honored as Lord there will be mutual respect, mutual restraint, and a grace that attracts me even as some of the ideas I hear expressed may repel me. And this work takes the discipline to listen, listen hard, and listen respectfully. To listen to hear the fear and pain that often underlie hurtful and thoughtless statements. Such listening should always prompt a time of self-examination.
I pray to be that sort of Christian. Please pray for me to become that disciple.
I pray for you to do the same.
If you would like to view past editions of Hello from Harvey, follow this link: https://capitaldistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/