After months of negative campaigning, it is easy to understand our growing ability to talk past, around, and at each other. Unintended or not, each negative ad or talking point belittling Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump yields collateral impact upon those who identify with the message of each. A surplus of evidence can be provided to document our declining empathy for those who see this election, or country, differently. Even if we never raise a fist in violence, we are all left feeling as if we are at war.
People being in conflict is nothing new, even if we have created to platforms (like social media) to weaponize our distain for each other like drones flying over the Middle East. Jesus understood the toxic nature of anger and hatred. Even when we believe these negative feelings are justified, or imagine that we hold them in some ostensibly depersonalized way, they are corrosive upon our relationships with others and to our spirits.
While we cling to our self-righteousness, Jesus challenges us:
To you who are ready for the truth, I say this:
Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.
If someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person.
If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it.
If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it.
If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life.
No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
Luke 6.27-30, The Message
People can choose how they want to react to the election. If their favorite candidate wins, they may choose to gloat and hold it over their enemies. If their candidate loses, they may turn to physical violence, or a political version of the same.
Christians who seek to follow Jesus are not afforded those choices. Win or lose, our calling is to love our enemies, end of debate.
Trump or Clinton? It is a question that the world will obsess over for a short time now, God-willing. Regardless of the outcome, we might expect months of acrimony and finger-pointing.
Christians have a better question to obsess themselves with. Do our actions post election bear witness to Jesus who tells us to love our enemies? If we can we preoccupy ourselves with this question, the process of healing can begin for us and perhaps for our nation as well.