For the last several months we’ve been scrolling through political posts on Facebook, sighing through political ads on TV, and throwing our phones through our windows after political arguments and conversations with our friends and family. Now that the election is past and we know who our president and other leaders will be, what will we do to pass the time?
Well, we could get right back on social media and express our outrage/triumph/ambivalence. We could drown ourselves in drink or chocolate or ice cream (or all three!) and feel sorry for ourselves. We could assign blame to groups of people or toxic attitudes or the media or demonic forces (I wouldn’t discount that last one) and feel better about ourselves. We could celebrate and pump our fists in the faces of our opponents, or take the streets in protest and break a lot of stuff. We could curl up in a fetal position and contemplate staying that way for the next four years.
But none of that would be all that helpful.
We could take the slightly more constructive approach of reposting memes reminding us all to try and get along, or articles asking us to be introspective and consider that the problems with our country might start with ourselves. I happen to agree with many of these sentiments, by the way, but I think we can do even better. Because if an election proves anything, it’s that we’re very good at polarizing ourselves, and not very good at considering the possibility that the people on the “other side” might have very valid and justifiable reasons for believing and voting the way they do. And I believe that the way to move past an election is to do more than just play nice or look inward. We need to be intentional about drawing together as a people, and those of us who have been called by grace should be leading that charge.
So I’m offering some suggestions for what we can do, and they all stem from the pen of Jesus’ best friend, John:
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:16-18
- Trust the love of Christ. Jesus laid down his life for us. He’s not going to let the people he bought with his own blood suffer needlessly. His grace is with you.
- Reach out to a friend, family member, coworker or neighbor who voted differently than you did. Affirm the positives of that relationship. Let them know you care about them.
- Help someone nearby you who is in need. Let them see that the love of Christ is in you. Even a small act can have a big impact.
- Repent of angry words and feelings against people on “the other side” of the issues from you. We’re all sinners. None of us have this completely right. Ask forgiveness, and then show forgiveness.
- Be salt and light. This election put the dark sides of humanity on display in some pretty powerful ways, and exposed our culture’s sicknesses. Show that we have the cure by living as a redeemed child of God.
- Share Jesus with someone. The Gospel is the power that changes hearts and lives. Use that power.
While it doesn’t come from anything John said, here or otherwise, I would also advise taking the time to read and digest Mr. Trump’s policies and plans. Whether you’re happy with the election or not, these are the plans that will set the direction for our country, so become familiar with them. Understand the goods from the bads, and decide what you need to do with your life to work within what is to come. I’ve seen a lot of fear about what Mr. Trump will do, and it’s hard to love from a position of fear. But it’s easy to fear what you don’t understand. Fight fear with knowledge, and trust it all to the God who holds the nations in his hands. He’s got this.