I had a conversation with one of my teachers about politics, I love talking politics, just not on social media. I commented on the fact that I couldn't vote in the primary because I was registered independent and he made a joke about me being a "fence rider". That was hard to hear.
I have been having this internal struggle for a while now....do I speak up? Do I stand up for x, y, and z? Apparently that is what the VAST majority of the country believes, or at least what I am seeing on news, social media, and in classes. Do fence riding independents need to take a side? I sometimes feel myself leaning to one side, other times differently.
I intend to stand directly, radically in the middle. Can I reach a hand to the right and to the left and be a bridge? Blessed are the peacemakers. I have had so many conversations about politics lately. Controversy abounds, welfare, gay marriage, abortion, police brutality, gun control and on, and on, and on it goes. No simple answers to complicated issues. Short videos trending with everyone spewing anger. Preachers taking a hard political stance, proud of the lines they draw so well in the sand. I feel sadness, knowing many define modern American Christianity by divisive words, landing as venom on their hearts, feeling like "the other". The Christianity of Christ is not "us and them".
Raised voices about sin, only those that the person behind the voice doesn't struggle with. Supporting the candidate that is pro-life, while ignoring young women that God brings into our lives, needing our love, our support but don't quite fit into our boxes that need to be wrapped so well. Are we ignoring the polarization that our political system is producing? Opinions clashing violently, no care for those left hurting. Allowing opinions to define us. Have we allowed a world system to become more definitive than God's Kingdom, which looks NOTHING like this world. No political party could think of encompassing the teachings of Jesus. Attaching Him to our politics is oxymoronic. World systems say "you are in, you are out", Jesus says "you are mine".
What then? What to do with frustration, righteous indignation, anger, blame? I have asked myself that question so many times. What if these uprisings within are an indication of something God is trying to develop within us.
I know this is a stretch, God tends to stretch us. At least consider this thought process.
Abused welfare cause frustration? Teach an adult literacy class. Volunteer with an organization that teaches work skills. Donate clothes to an organization that helps dress those that are going for interviews.
Gun right/control important to you? Have a conversation with someone that feels opposite of you and listen with an open heart.
Family values most important to you? Value your family and show love that is truly unconditional. Let them know that they don't have to earn your love. Those are such healing words.
Just a few examples but tune in to what is stirring deep within, not only in a positive way, even if the emotions are negative, God could be leading you to get involved. Some of the simplest and best advice I have heard in regards to politics is from my pastor.
The extreme of both ideological spectrums are not pretty. Left is communism and right is fascism, both historically proving extremely dangerous. Perhaps we all need to edge to the center and show love that spans the divide. The Kingdom of God is above the entire spectrum. Land wherever you want but open your heart to Jesus who shatters the boxes of ideologies. He will never fit into one we try to put him into.
It can be a beautiful thing to debate and disagree, not so beautiful is refusing to believe that someone can think differently without excluding them from of our circle. When we eliminate people from community based of differences we have lost sight of Jesus message.
Perhaps we use this politically volatile season as an opportunity to engage in something other than voices spewing venom. May we rise to the occasion as a light in the darkness. May we spend more time loving and praying for our leaders than we spend criticizing them.
If reading this has stirred something within and you want to listen to a wonderful podcast along the same lines this is really good. It is from Ecclesia Church in Houston.