Gentleness after the election

Farmville Enterprise column 11/09/16

The votes are in. The new president of the United States has been decided and, at the time of this printing, the winner either has been announced or should be shortly. Now is when Christians should react gently to our neighbors, family and friends. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”(Ephesians 4:2)

This presidential election, more than any other, resulted in two major party candidates with an overwhelming number of voters perceiving them in an unfavorable light. Less than one third of poll respondents found them to be honest and trustworthy. On both sides we can’t help but wonder about tendencies towards ego, failure to admit wrongdoing or to speak truthfully, and serving their own interests. We understand that no person is free from weakness and failure, but certain moral failings have seemed extraordinarily evident. This is not to say that each candidate does not have some good qualities. They do.  This is not to say that each candidate could not change for the better. They could.

Since most Americans admitted they were voting “against” a candidate rather than “for” his/her opponent and many described it as choosing the “lesser of two evils” we should remember that very few people were endorsing bad behavior on either side.  It basically came down to two options and voters had to go with their consciences and which they deemed a better choice for our country. Countless Christian pastors, leaders and theologians wrote of the angst caused by making a presidential selection this year.  “Christianity Today” had a cover article, “given the unique controversies surrounding each candidate,” where three evangelical leaders gave three different endorsements for president.   Blogger Rebecca Reynolds wrote about her fear that these political discussions would “cause tears in the fabric of many dear Christian relationships” and that  “in the intersection of faith and politics stand many bruised souls, frightened, frustrated, and confused about how to handle Election 2016.”

Now is the time for us to move forward, with unity as a goal. No matter who is president we can press on in the cause of spreading the love of Jesus Christ, helping the hurting, reaching out to the poor, promoting religious freedom and standing up for the beauty and sanctity of each human life. God is not surprised by tendencies towards pride or self-promotion within government. The Old and New Testaments are replete with examples of political leaders, some living in contradiction to biblical principles, whom God used to accomplish his purpose.  Even some pagan kings praised the works of the God of the Hebrews. After Jehovah protected Daniel in the lions’ den King Darius proclaimed, “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.” (Daniel 6:26-28)

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