What happens when you discover that a person you respect and admire plans to vote for Donald Trump?
Are you deeply disappointed? Privately aghast? Do you feel slightly superior in some way? Does it change the way you consider that person going forward? Do you feel justified in distancing yourself from them and their (disturbing, unsavory, shameful) kind of people? Thank goodness you are not like them!
Or, what happens when you find out that a person you really like and admire plans to vote for Hillary Clinton?
Are you saddened? Do your spirits sink? Are you mortified at their sheep-like naiveté, spiritual blindness, and their capitulation to the lesser things of this world? And because you know that only a few will pass through the narrow gate, are you proud that you have been courageous enough to take the moral high ground? God, thank you for not letting me be like them!
I know what happens when we discover that certain people – good Christian people – think differently, politically, than we do: We wonder how they can sleep at night with so much bad blood on their hands!
“How on earth can a person with even a shred of integrity vote for that loathsome man?” we wonder, sometimes out loud. “How can anyone with any conscience at all support that despicable woman?” we say to anyone who has ears to hear.
Many of us have already announced that we can no longer, ‘in good conscience’, really respect anyone who would still support, after all we know, a candidate whose values are so dangerous and distorted. Too much is on the line, people!
“You must know I’ve given this considerable, careful, and totally unbiased thought!” we say. And if (even) I can’t convince you – if you still won’t agree with me and all the other good, decent, and clued-in people – well then, I guess you’re on your own.”
“I can no longer have your back if you think that way.” we say to our brother as we shake the dust from our shoes. “You’re beyond my help, hope, and respect.”
But what is it that Christians say? What are we to do?
I don’t know.
But I know that God despises haughty eyes and I know he loves humble and contrite hearts.
I know that we are to regularly examine our own motives with the same rigor we use to examine the motives of others.
I know we are to cling to the good and forgive seven times seventy; that we are to speak of our neighbor how we would like to be spoken of in the town square.
I know God’s people can trust there will be enough baskets of fish, bread, and blessing to fill more than five thousand hungry souls if Jesus is there.
I know we are to be gentle and truthful, and that we must always leave plenty of room for the perfect justice and stunning surprises of God.
I know we are to see the beauty and promise in all God has made, especially in his extraordinary, obstinate, and exasperating people.
And I know that our enemy especially loves it when our hearts turn cold and callous towards each other; when we feel justified in demeaning, disparaging, or defacing those also made in the image of God – even in our private thoughts.
So, what happens when we are dismayed by our brothers and sisters to the point of spiritual pride?
Pray. Not only for them, but for us. Pray for more light. And may the God who holds all the world in his generous hands, who respects us all despite our considerable lack of respect, be merciful to us.
Peace (and more light) to you this season,