This is a week of importance for Americans.
Yesterday marked the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, when we’re encouraged to think about the issues he fought for. Tomorrow is Presidential inauguration day, ushering in a time of new leadership and whatever may come with that.
I felt like today’s blog post, sandwiched between these two national observances, should be insightful or meaningful or profound. Well, not necessarily profound – because I don’t consider most of what I say or write to fall in that category. That’s for people who are much deeper thinkers than me.
I was raised in a time and place when many people didn’t necessarily embrace the issues raised by Dr. King. That sounds harsh, especially in today’s culture, but it was my reality. He was assassinated only a few years before I was born, which meant events were still fresh on people’s minds. Changing laws or perspectives or hearts is difficult, tedious work. It takes time. More time, for some, than what had passed by the late 60s and early 70s of my childhood.
Grappling with that realization as I grew old enough to be aware of it and understand what it meant was tough. To be honest, some days it still is.
I also was raised in a family that believed voting was a privilege to be exercised, but that politics were personal. My parents voted every time an election came around. In those days you stepped up to an available voting machine and pulled the curtain closed around you so that no one else in the room saw anything but your calves and shoes. There was just enough space for me to stand at their elbow as they flipped the levers for the candidates they voted for. The clicks and thunks of the levers carried such finality, sounded so official. Standing in that little closed-in space felt magical and secretive and special – and private.
I’m sure my parents could have discussed candidates and issues, but they never had those conversations in front of me. Maybe it stemmed from how they were raised themselves, but you truly let your vote be your voice instead of vocalizing your opinions on candidates to anyone who cared to listen. Talking politics was seen as tacky.
Wow, have we moved past that mindset as a society.
Talking politics still isn’t high on my list of favorite conversational topics. I research candidates and make my choices and believe that everyone else should be allowed to do the same. It’s one of our rights as American citizens.
Do we have to agree on who to vote for? No. Do we need to be respectful of each other’s opinions and find ways to move forward together despite those differences? I believe so.
It’s a recurring message in John’s letters, but echoes what Jesus Himself taught: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12 ESV) and “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 ESV).
John walked with Jesus and was part of His inner circle. He was part of some events such as the Transfiguration that only a handful of people experienced (Matthew 17; Mark 9; Luke 9). He stood at the cross during the Crucifixion and was given the responsibility of caring for Jesus’ mother Mary (John 19). He was one of the first disciples to see that Jesus was no longer in the tomb (John 20).
He was gifted with a vision and was told to write it down in what we know as the book of Revelation.
Yet after seeing all these things, after experiencing face-to-face life with Jesus, the message John shared again and again was to love each other.
Everything of importance comes back to love.
I’m trying to remember that for myself. I’m trying to get better at putting it into practice myself.
As tired as I am of anything related to this election season, as bruised/battered/frustrated/angry as I felt at different times during the past year, it all comes back to loving each other and loving God.
It doesn’t matter which candidates you supported. It doesn’t matter which candidates won.
What matters is that God is in control. He is on the throne.
My job is to love God and to love other people, no matter who they are or what they believe. God will take it from there.
That’s what I hold to, especially in crazy or uncertain times (read my other post, Faithful Despite the Fear). I pray we reach a place someday where we’re able to do that together – as Americans, as Christians, as children of God.