I don’t know about you (well, I really think I do 😊), but I have found myself more judgmental this season. I don’t know if it is Covid, although that certainly has put some added stress on all of us. It may be pre-holiday stress. What gatherings are safe? How do we respect all of the participants? What precautions are wise and what are overkill?
For me, politics has been the worst. The tone of the conversation has felt harsher. Both sides fear disaster should the other side win. It is rare to have a conversation that goes well, that is marked by curiosity, and even more rare to find one marked by respect. But the hardest part of all of that for me has been me.
I have had some conversations with people who felt unknowledgeable or unaware or disrespectful. Some have even been more judgmental than I, as if no one in their right mind could differ from their opinion. All the while, if I was one of those who would disagree, most of the time I would say nothing lest they think me one of those who has lost their mind.
I read a blog several weeks ago that posed this question: How is it that God-loving, Bible teaching, earnest faithful folk in one zip code can be sold out for the red party, while several miles away God-loving, Bible teaching earnest faithful folk in another zip code can be sold out for the blue party? Is this level of disagreement really possible? Can we disagree and not believe the other is absolutely wrong, or worse, distrust their faith in Jesus?
That is provocative for me, mostly as it pinpoints the problem I have struggled with in my own heart.
In Ephesians 1:15-16, Paul writes: “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”
I have not stopped giving thanks for you because you love Jesus and you love God’s people. Not stopped. Giving thanks. Because you love Jesus and His people.
But what about those who disagree with me? What about those who seem unaware, unknowledgeable, close-minded? What about those whom I find myself thinking harshly toward? What about? What about? What about?
I read Paul’s words and I want to have his heart, and yes, His heart. I want to be deeply thankful and prayerful for my brothers and sisters who disagree with me politically but love Jesus and live for Him. I don’t like the part of my heart that is more critical than thankful, more bothered by earthly disagreement than grateful for our shared faith and common commitment and love. I want a reorientation of values and priorities. I want to value and count the things that truly are most important.
And I can’t do it without a God-orchestrated change of heart.
Lord, please change me (us?). Make me value what you value and see what you see. Not that I don’t care about politics, but that I care more about You and Your people and Your kingdom. And Lord, help me to trust you in whatever the outcome.
Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.