I feel grieved today. A heaviness sits on my shoulders as I fold the laundry. A sadness envelops me as I drink my coffee. My prayers get stuck with “Lord, I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what to do. What do You want today?” I can articulate nothing more. No fancy prose. No flowery praise or well spoken requests.
I’ve made it no secret that I am opposed to the current president and his short sighted protectionist policies. He troubles me. The people surrounding him trouble me. But this goes far, far deeper than that.
I am grieved by my friends and family who angrily attack when he is questioned. I am troubled by those who see news pointing out his falsehoods or missteps as fake and mean spirited. I am grieved when people shun those of us who voice opposing views rather than listen. I am grieved that none of this behavior is taught in scripture. Yet those who scream the loudest are my Christian brothers and sisters. Do you not hear yourselves? Do you not see?
I have repeatedly requested to be shown where in scripture we are told to find strength and guidance in politicians. I hear only crickets in response. I have quoted passages to show where my beliefs come from. I have invited those who believe differently to please do the same. Only crickets. And yelling. Lots of yelling. And scolding of me the blasphemer, the heretic, the problem child.
You see, my pain today lies not in the treatment I’ve received. Far better people have endured far, far worse–so please do not pity me or try to make me feel better. My pain is for the people who put their hands over their ears, cover their eyes, and stomp their feet instead of listening. I am one tiny voice screaming into the wind. But the Maker of the Wind has spoken also. And He is being ignored by the very same people that lash out at anyone who might dare question the president. “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22 NIV) If we are to not trust in man then why are we to trust that our country will be returned to God by legislation? Are laws not the works of man? Is our land really to be healed by banning abortion? Where in scripture does it say that? Is our land really to be healed by holding homosexuals to a different set of rules? Chapter and verse for that please. Will God only help us when prayer is officially sanctioned in our schools? Show me the reference to that teaching.
While those of us who see our role in this discussion differently have been admonished for not praying, we have prayed more than ever before. We have taken to in depth study of scripture for guidance. Constant prayer for wisdom. Disagreeing with our leaders does not make prayer for them impossible. Nor does it make it any less likely. I pray for the president and for those in leadership. But I do not pray for them to be blessed as it seems is the only acceptable prayer in many eyes (chapter and verse for that assertion, please). I pray for God’s guidance, God’s wisdom, God’s will. Not man. Who is man? Of what account is he?
For years I saw myself as a conservative Republican. That’s what my family was. That’s what the majority of my church was. That’s what nationally known preachers are. That was just the way it should be! But this past presidential campaign made me truly examine what I stood for. What I believed. What my faith says I should be concerned with. I discovered that I could not match my political beliefs with my faith. My faith says to care for orphans, the poor, the widow, the refugee. My politics did not. My faith says to love my neighbor as myself. My politics looked down on my neighbor and told them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. My faith says to welcome strangers. My party said that the “least of these” are not welcome here. My faith says that “the first shall be last”. My party says “America First!” My faith says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” That one wins. If I am to love the Lord with my entire being, then I am to be willing to change. I am to be willing to reread scripture and listen–really listen–to what it has to say anew. I am to be willing to start on a different path than I had been on previously.
So today I am grieved. I am grieved for the ugliness and anger in my country. I am grieved for the justification of vitriol on the basis of righteousness. But most of all I am grieved by my fellow Christians who find it more offensive when someone disagrees with their chosen elected official than when someone disregards the commands to love, care for, and protect our neighbors. I am heartbroken by my brothers and sisters who shout that we need to pray for our president while remaining silent on the willful lies he regularly employs. I am gutted by those who have placed party loyalty over faith. This is not about politics to me. This is not about winning or losing. This is about right and wrong. This is about being willing to listen and to see beyond our own prejudices and thoughts. This is about being able to disagree with a president and not be guilted into silence. He is just a man. Who is man? Of what account is he?
I am grieved for my friends and loved ones who have felt alone and abandoned by their church because of politics. I am crestfallen when I hear of another whose faith has been called into question because they have differing political beliefs than the majority in their Christian circle. Might someone point me in the direction of where that is justified in the Bible? Sadly, I have found numerous people walking lives of genuine faith who have been shunned by the very people who should be supporting them. All over politics. I’m at a loss at how this can be justified. I am stunned that a man would be defended more voraciously than God or His people. I am horrified that this is what people see when they look at much of the church. We are called to be examples of Christ. Not defenders of politicians. The world is watching for guidance during this troubling time. Are we pointing them in the right direction?
A wise friend said to me this past week that he saw the church as a parallel to Noah. Our job, like his, is to prepare the ark so that people can be saved from the storm. We are to point people to the way of salvation. But, we have shifted our focus from building the ark to trying to stop the rain. The storm is coming and that is not going to change. Our world is not going to magically get better because of one leader. It is ultimately misguided (although potentially well intentioned) to think that God wants to accomplish His purpose through political means. Jesus himself refused political power. We cannot stop the rain. But we can help our friends and neighbors be prepared for the coming storm. We can lead them to the ark. We can show them who we are truly able to trust without fail. It’s not a president. It’s the God who made the universe. Why would we fight any differently?