Last Sunday on my way to church I pulled up at a stoplight immediately behind a car with a fascinating pair of rear bumper stickers; there was a stick-on cross between the bumper stickers. One sticker had lots of words: 2 lines, a website reference and more. The top line read, “My faith votes.” The bottom line read, “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 city might best be led in ways to reflect my faith. I know that’s what Christians do.
So I looked at the other bumper sticker. The driver was still promoting a candidate from an election of many 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 drive and I illustrate a fascinating dilemma. I assume she was on the way to worship as I was. We honor a common marvelous Lord: we are, in biblical language, sister and brother. But can we get along? Can we love each other even if we disagree about the implications and directions of our common Christian belief?
For generations, the answer, in our civil society, was “Yes.” But as you know, probably too well, in some places that ability has shrunk and we have all gone to our respective corners and don’t really listen and talk to each other easily. And while this discussion could focus on secular politics, truth be told, it’s also applicable to the church.
What to do?
I think a huge part of the dilemma is where we start and where we put our emphasis.
If you emphasize the end result first—that is, if you have already chosen the outcome or candidate or position you want to prevail—without first talking about the common faith, without sharing respectfully each other’s experience of Grace, it will be hard to talk civilly, let alone talk as Christians should.
This is not naïve wishing. You can share the Word, eat the Holy Meal together, pray for each other and each other’s families, 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. What you are witnessing in that mutual respect is the work of the Holy Spirit when people truly ask for it and first seek to live it. 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.
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/