Understatement of the Year: “This has been a contentious election season.”
That contention hasn’t just polarized the people of this nation along ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ lines; it has also caused division among both liberals and conservatives. A number of progressives who supported Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination are having trouble getting behind the party’s candidate after allegations that Hillary Clinton’s campaign conspired to sabotage the Sanders campaign.
Similarly, conservatives are divided in their support of the Republican candidate. Many conservatives consider the Republican nominee unfit for the office of President (along with the Democratic nominee), and a number of those who do plan to vote for him will be holding their noses as they do so.
In my own church I’ve seen disagreements over what the ‘Christian’ choice is this November. I thank God that most of the conversations held in my church with respect to this election have been kind and courteous, but the differences are there nonetheless.
As an elder of a relatively-small, relatively-conservative congregation, my primary concern this fall is not who will win the election, or who the next Supreme Court nominees will be, or even what the state of the Bill of Rights will be four years from now (though I am concerned about each of these). My greatest concern this fall is what my congregation will look like on November 13th.
November 13th will be the first time that the people in my congregation—those who are supporting Trump, those who are #NeverTrump, and everyone in between—gather together for communion after the next President is elected.
Why am I concerned about this?
If Hillary Clinton is elected the next President of the United States, it will be fairly easy for those who supported Donald Trump to lay a great deal of blame at the feet of those who refused to vote for him. On the other hand, if Donald Trump is elected, those who opposed him may well resent Christians whom they perceive compromised their Christian principles. Regardless of the outcome, this election is unlikely to resolve the hostility.
When the members of my congregation gather together on November 13th for communion, what will it look like? Will it look like the gospel of Jesus Christ, who humbled himself to love and serve in the face of hostility? Will we eat the bread and drink the cup in an unworthy manner? Will we examine ourselves? Will we recognize the body? If we remember that our brother or sister has something against us, will we first go and be reconciled?
Pastors all over the country will learn a great deal about the health of their respective congregations on November 13th. Many of us may be encouraged to see that, despite political (and even ethical) differences, our congregation remains a body of believers who genuinely seek to love and serve one another. Others may discover that the contention and strife of this political season has indeed infiltrated the house of God and intruded upon the table of the Lord.
As we pray for our nation, our leaders, and the voters, let’s also pray for our churches, our pastors, and our people.
Let’s remind our people that God is sovereign over the nations and that the heart of the king is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord (Proverbs 21:1).
Let’s remind our people that all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18–20).
And let’s remind our people that each of us belong to Him as well.
Therefore, let us walk with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another with love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit with the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1–3).