I look at my calendar this morning and realize that we’re just a few days away from the beginning of February. This tells me a couple of things. First, it means that we’re rolling along through the early days of 2020 at what seems like a blistering pace. Second, it means that the already heated political process in the United States will take it up a notch or two with the onset of primary season with the Iowa caucuses on February 3rd. It all ramps up in February: ten months of primary elections, increasing numbers of political ads, debates, political conventions, more debates and hopefully a clear election next November.
Can I be honest for a moment? I’m not looking forward to the next few months. While I could do without the onslaught of political ads, campaign promises and propaganda from all sides, that’s not really what bothers me about this season. What really makes me dread this long season of politics is the general lack of civility, graciousness and respect that seems to be the new norm of our culture. We can’t just have honest disagreement or genuine debate, but we’ve become a culture of derision, scorn and disrespect.
Far too often we assume the worst about those who do not agree with our own positions or views. The man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat is a racist. The man wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt believes its okay to kill law enforcement officers. The person who kneels for the national anthem doesn’t love America or respect those who sacrificed for our country. The person who votes for fill-in-the-blank candidate can’t really love Jesus, they’ve compromised their faith. The person who votes for fill-in-the-blank candidate wants to destroy America.
Now it’s one thing to deal with this in our culture. We live in a fallen, broken world and I should probably expect such struggles from a fallen, broken world. What grieves me even more is when I see the same kind of derision, disrespect and scorn amongst brothers and sisters in Christ directed at other brothers and sisters in Christ. It shouldn’t be this way.
We have an opportunity to live out a different reality that looks remarkably counter-cultural in our current societal moment. What if, rather than derision, disrespect and contempt being our norm as it so often is in our world today, we, as followers of Jesus, were able to embrace and embody humility?
The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:3 to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” What does it look like to value others above yourself in today’s contentious political environment?
Maybe it starts with thinking the very best about those with whom you disagree? “Brother, I know you deeply love Jesus, you’re a strong thinker and I know that you’re a supporter of fill-in-the-blank candidate. I’d love to know more about how you’ve come to your position because I respect you and I love you.”
Maybe it starts with evaluating the posts you make on social media that reduce your political opponents to degenerates or brainless fools. How do you show respect to those who may disagree with you?
I’m not telling you to change your views. I’m not telling you how to vote. I’m just wondering if we wouldn’t all be better off if the people who claim to love and follow Jesus would embrace a humility that truly values others above ourselves. I’m just wondering how such rarely found humility might impact our witness for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In a world that so often chooses to attack those with whom we disagree with disrespect and scorn or, perhaps even worse, pulls away and ignores in silent but simmering indignation, what would it look like for our congregations to live out something different? It would require genuine humility. It would require honest disagreement and debate done respectfully but full of love for one another and a commitment to honor others and value others, even when we choose to disagree.
We have a great opportunity these next few months to embrace a counter-cultural humility that puts our faith in Jesus on display.
I’m praying that we let humility be our guide from now through November and beyond.
CGGC eNews—Vol. 14, No. 4