The level of political discourse in the United States has been ratcheted to new levels of ugly incivility. The strident messages coming from people across the political spectrum have crossed the line of the right to voice political viewpoints and differences into the realm of personal attacks and de-humanizing characterizations. There is a deep fracture in the fabric of our nation right now, and too many people are feeding that division through harsh, ill-advised words and actions.

Don’t get me wrong: we all have the right to—and in fact should—express our viewpoints, point out injustices, and work to make this country a better place for all who live here. It seems to me, however, that we have forgotten an essential component of what makes the United States of America work: United. I don’t mean ‘united’ in the sense that we all agree on the best approach to solving problems, but that even in our disagreements we are still “us” as a national community. We share the same soil even when we don’t share the same political perspectives. The “us against them” approach might get people activated for a cause, but also needs to be balanced with the “they are also us” understanding.

In the midst of this harsh and virulent climate, how are Christ followers to reflect His love and Truth to the people we encounter or even disagree with? There is an abundance of rich counsel that the Bible provides, and here are a few lessons God has shown me:

  •  Pray. God has led me to pray for presidents, legislators, governors, mayors, council members, and judges—even those for whom I didn’t vote. God asks us to love and pray for those whose political viewpoints don’t match ours. Prayer is the first and best thing we can do on behalf of our nation, leaders, and all who live in this great land. The apostle Paul wrote this instruction on worship at a time of great personal persecution by governing authorities:
    • “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people”
      (I Timothy 2:1-6)
  • Keep first things first! We are here to point people to God and His loving grace above politics. We are ambassadors on this planet, operating in the love of Christ to all people, as Paul once wrote:
    • “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view…All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  •  Listen, and then listen more. We honor God and people when we take time to listen, even when we don’t agree with someone’s perspective. Ask God to help you with this—I do.
    • “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”
      (James 1:19)
  • Respond with the grace and love God has shown and poured into your life. It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of anger when others verbally come at you, but allowing the peace of Christ to rule in your being is the key to thriving in a tumultuous world.
    • “A gentle answer turns away wrath,
      but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
  • Finally, vote and act in a way that honors God and reflects His heart and value for human beings and all creation. The prophet Micah succinctly pointed to this:
    • “O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
      and this is what he requires of you:
      to do what is right, to love mercy,
      and to walk humbly with your God.” (Living Bible, Micah 6:8)

We are called to value and uphold what is right in God’s eyes and to demonstrate the same mercy to other people that God gave to us. Finally, we are called to be humble—not proud, arrogant, or self-important or assertive, but submitting ourselves to God and His kingdom plan.

Christ followers are called to demonstrate and share His presence in our lives and interactions with all people, regardless of their political viewpoint.
It’s an act of worship and an acknowledgment that we are one nation under God.

God bless you.
Chris Atkins