We just finished perhaps the most divisive election in modern history. The good news is that the election is over and we are experiencing what few countries experience: a peaceful transfer of power. It was good to see the President and President-elect meet and discuss the transition. But there is stil much division in the country. I can commend a few pieces to you on this. First one by my boss Russell Moore and another by a favorite pastor of mine, Erwin Lutzer. You might also read this great piece at Desiring God and this analysis of the election by Kirsten Powers. I also loved this beautiful gospel testimony by Ernie Johnson.
We are a divided nation and, even if they give it their best, our political leaders and parties and movements cannot bring the kind of unity we need. Only neighbor-love, expressed by the people of God, can help show a better way. Regardless of what happens in Washington, you and me can embody this in our communities one relationship at a time.
So here is a modest goal for myself and, I hope, a goal for you: intentionally endeavor to meet and befriend someone who is different than you, who probably voted the other way. So if you are a proud Trump voter, go meet a minority who might be fearful about the election outcome. If you were a Hillary Clinton voter, go meet and befriend someone with a red hat on. If you were #nevertrump or #neverhillary, perhaps you might need to make two friendships.
And when you meet with someone who voted differently, sit and listen. Try to empathize with the concerns. Resist the urge to combat those arguments. Hold off on the data and the news stories and the talking points. Avoid fighting the last battle.
I’ve been deeply convicted in my own heart about my unwillingness, at times, to listen to those who disagree with me. Listening and empathizing doesn’t mean we have to compromise what we believe, but it might soften the edges of our arguments a little. It might give us a window into people’s pain. And it may go a long way toward stitching back together the torn fabric of our communities.
After all, we who profess faith in Christ have a God who came down and lived among us in Jesus. A God who is near. We are called on mission to live in and among the people of this world, image-bearers of their Creator. We don’t do this by talking down to people different than us, but by building relationships and loving them with the love of Christ.
So will you do this? Will you, in the coming months, meet and befriend someone who thinks differently than you do?