The U.S. presidential election, which concludes today, has been described as one of the most contentious and crucial elections in the country’s modern history. Many voters on both sides feel that if their candidate doesn’t win, the country will be in grave trouble. Yet in the end only one candidate can be voted into office.
So how do we settle our thought, and know that regardless of the outcome of the election, we can move forward in a way that forwards peace and harmony?
I’ve found that prayer provides more help with this than anything else possibly can. One idea that’s inspired me recently is in the Bible, when the prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of the Christ. Isaiah uses the term “mine elect” in describing God’s Son, Jesus Christ: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him” (Isaiah 42:1).
Jesus brought a new law, a new covenant, to the people. Paramount to that law is loving God and loving one’s neighbor without exception. The Apostle Paul would later write of being made free by “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2).
This divine law that Paul speaks of offers the greatest freedom of all: the realization that there is nothing more powerful than God, divine Love itself. This includes freedom from giving in to fear or hateful thoughts about others.
At one point during the election campaign, a friend expressed her deep concern over the state of politics as well as her opinionated views about the candidates, which differed from mine. Oh, I wanted to “correct” her! So much so, that I found myself thinking that I might not even want to be her friend anymore after what she had shared. I was startled at this thought that came to me despite this friend’s many exemplary qualities. I could feel disdain for her brewing in my thought.
That wasn’t how I wanted to consider my neighbor, and certainly not over a polarized election! So I held my tongue and mentally reached out in prayer to find an idea that would give me peace.
What came to me, quite powerfully, was along these lines: This is about loving your neighbor in ways you never have before. This is about looking past differences to see more of the spiritual reality: your unchangeable unity as children of God. After all, if you love God, who is Love, you must love your neighbor. We’re all created to express God’s love and goodness.
This was just the impetus I needed to move forward with the higher purpose of serving God first. The disdain lifted, I felt at peace, and I’m so grateful that our friendship continues.
The inspiration I received from my prayers that day, from appealing to God as Love itself, wasn’t just instructive in that moment with my friend. It continues to help me now as we head into a postelection season. No matter which candidate we supported, and no matter what testing times might lie ahead, we can make it our goal to bear witness to the higher law of God in action, the law of goodness and peace that Jesus taught and demonstrated. I’ve experienced more than once how being willing to let the love of Christ impel our actions and words dissipates division and discord.
Responding to conflict among church members in Greece, Paul once wrote: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. ... One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided?” (I Corinthians 1:10, 12, 13, New International Version).
If we feel our primary allegiance is to a particular person or political party, we will always be divided. Our task is to follow God and strive to emulate Christ Jesus’ model in our lives. You could say we’ve each been “elected” and specially appointed to love God and our neighbor more than our firmly held opinions. As we step up to fill that spiritual post, we do our part to contribute to a more righteous government and increased harmony in our country and our world.
As Jesus reassured us: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
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