I did something the other day that I have never done before – I wrote a letter to the editor of the Houston newspaper. It’s pretty easy these days, you can do it by email. The letter actually made the paper – some of you may have seen it. If you haven’t, and you’re curious, it had to do with “Joe the Plumber” – the man whose name would become a political ping-pong ball.
As a pastor I try really hard not to take sides in an election – on issues, yes, on candidates, no. I serve many people who have varied opinions on candidates who have positive and negative aspects to their political leanings, so you won’t find me fighting “the man” by making an endorsement from the pulpit. However, the “Joe the Plumber” issue just hit a nerve with me. My argument was regarding how a man’s life is being so thoroughly investigated because he asked a question. His imperfections and minor issues become fodder for declaring that he has no right toask a question – even if it is a legit mate one. Now, based on comments I saw in reply to my letter, some declare his question to be illegitimate – no real basis in the facts. Okay, so argue that point, but don’t destroy a man’s reputation because of that error. If it is a legit mate question, as some do believe, then state why you believe the stance of either candidate is right or wrong. Again, it doesn’t mean tearing down an individual.
Why is this the topic of my blog? Because in this issue I see the truth of how God’s church, God’s people, the followers of Jesus, are being called to be a light in the darkness. It’s not about taking sides as much as it is about taking a stance. It’s not about taking a stance against another person, it’s about taking a stance for grace and love. The tone of our society has become so divisive and so mean-spirited that there is little room for us to agree to disagree and enjoy each other for the gift we are. The tone we encounter through the media and through the political scene is so heartbreaking to me.
In my reading this morning I came across the words of Jesus as he was being nailed to the cross – as he was being so thoroughly beaten and attacked. He looked down at those who held the hammers and drove the nails and he said, “Forgive them Father, for they don’t know what they do.” GRACE… FORGIVENESS… Hope for the future of those who are so off track, so far from God.
This election is teaching us to look at our political opposites as bad people, to look at our enemies with fear and a desire to destroy, to look at each other with skeptical hearts and to attribute evil motives to the other person’s every move. It’s happening on all sides.
This is a time when the people of God need to have a strong voice of grace. We need to have open arms willing to befriend those who see things differently. We need to have open hearts willing to love those who would attack our beliefs and political opinions. This is a time for us to ask God to pour out his grace and forgiveness upon those we see as doing evil – and also to pour it out on us when we fail to see the evil in our own actions.
“Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do… Put a right Spirit within us and may we take the light of Christ into a very dark world.”
Peace to you, Mike.