Many of my conservative friends don’t see eye-to-eye on this year’s election, and I suspect I’m not alone.
Scroll through social media, go to churches across the country – goodness, go to a family dinner table! – and you might see good, sincere Christians with differing opinions on who to elect for president and how to think through the voting process.
For some evangelicals, it might be the first time they’ve faced this level of disagreement with their family or church community over a presidential election.
And that can cause stress.
Studies show 52 percent of U.S. adults say the 2016 presidential election is a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.”
Now, as a nonprofit, Focus on the Family isn’t legally allowed to endorse candidates – and besides, I don’t even want to talk about the candidates today. I’ll leave those conversations to others.
What I do want to do today is encourage you towards unity with your brothers and sisters in the faith.
I’ve found that it can be clarifying to go back to time-honored principles during times of uncertainty or disagreement. That’s why I want to share some values that have served well in the past – and remain true today.
The first – and greatest of these – is love. “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” (1 John 3:23)
For those of us who know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, there is more that unites us than divides us – even during this election season.
One of Jesus’ last prayers was for unity among believers, and that unity can exist even when we have disagreements – indeed, that’s been happening for millennia. So let’s take this opportunity to model to the world – and our children – how to disagree well and love our neighbor.
How do we do that?
By treating each other with civility and respect, and by not doubting the good intentions of those we disagree with.
We do it by not shrinking back from honest discussion, although the apostle Paul reminds us to avoid petty quarrels (2 Timothy 2:23).
We do it when we try to understand where our brothers and sisters are coming from, and attempt to “bridge this chasm” by truly listening to each other.
We can do it by engaging the political process with integrity and honesty: not defending our candidate at all costs or destroying their candidate at all costs. Like Kevin DeYoung points out, “the church must show a better way.”
We do it by voting, because voting shows we care about our neighbor. (And even for those of you who might abstain from voting for president, there are many down-ballot races at the state and local level, many referendums on the ballot, and many judicial retention elections that Christians can influence for good.)
And finally: we can strive towards unity by not reproaching our brothers and sisters if the result of the election doesn’t go the way we were personally hoping and praying for.
After all, on Nov. 9, the day after the election, American Christians need to come together to continue living out our mission to share the Gospel, feed the poor, care for the widow and orphan, support the abortion-minded woman, and be a prophetic voice in the culture. That’s why I pray we can conduct ourselves today in a manner that will help us continue to work together to fulfill our mission tomorrow.
So I ask you: Engage well. Love each other. And pray. Pray for your decision, your church, and our country. And commit to praying over whoever ultimately becomes president.
I’ll leave you with a recording of a Facebook Live conversation I had earlier this week with the president of the Colson Center, John Stonestreet, and with our vice president of public policy, Carrie Gordon-Earll, where we explore other issues surrounding the topic of biblical citizenship.
Let me know what you think about Christian unity in these weeks leading up to the election in the comments section below.
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