This past week has been one like no other. The 2020 US Presidential Election seems to have brought out the worst in some people. Parts of our country are bitterly divided by individual beliefs, values, and principles.
Civility was replaced with rude behavior.
Patriotism was replaced with partisanship.
Respect was replaced with contempt.
Courteousness was replaced with inconsideration.
This is the seventh Presidential Election I’ve voted in. If you’ve been keeping count, both parties have alternated in the highest office of the country over the past twenty-eight years that I’ve participated in the political process.
With some elections I was ecstatic with the results, and others not so much. One year I actually seriously considered leaving the country to work for one of my international clients at the time, because I was so unhappy with the person who was elected president.
But looking back, I realized I truly didn’t trust God with my life. My actions showed that my trust was in my anticipated earthly conditions and an unfound fear of the future. Looking back over all those years, it is so clear that regardless of who was in office, God’s hand was always on my life.
As I look at the current climate of our nation, I find myself often wondering, how did we get here? Where did the hate and animosity come from? Had it always been there, hidden just under the surface, or was this a new phenomenon in our nation’s history that we were experiencing?
Throughout this election cycle, I’ve had to continually check my heart’s condition. It’s very easy to get caught up with the harmful rhetoric going on in our personal circles – I don’t think any of us were immune to negative talk concerning the candidate we weren’t voting for.
People who call themselves Christians were (and still are) arguing with each other worse than the politicians on either side of Congress. How can people who read the same Bible, and serve the same Savior and Lord, walk such drastically different paths? I realize that different upbringings, different regions, and different experiences heavily shape our viewpoints, but how could we be that far apart from each other?
As I thought more about it, I concluded that this appeared to be a result of hardened hearts:
For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes – so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them. Matthew 13:15 NLT
Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. Ephesians 4:18 NLT
For those of us that claim to be Christians, we need to look in our Playbook for direction on how to respond in a way that will soften our heart. We are instructed to pray for our neighbors, community, country leaders and world leaders in order to bring peace to our world:
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 NLT
When we pray for someone – I mean sincerely pray for them, God changes our heart towards them. There’s no way we can truly pray for someone with contempt in our heart for them. It just won’t work.
As we allow God to soften our heart when we pray for others, we will start to see them for who they are – flawed human beings – just like us.
We are all God’s children, no matter what someone looks like on the outside, how they act, how harmful their actions may be, or how badly they offend you. This doesn’t change the fact that God created them and loves them too. When we think of others this way, it should allow us to feel compassion for them, despite their shortcomings and failures.
Often when I’m in a crowd of people, I’ll notice a random face, look in their eyes, and remind myself that they were also created by God, and they’re just as important to Him as I am.
For some, it may be a hard concept to grasp sometimes, but in spite of someone’s physical features, family or personal history, level of education, or socio-economic status – God created each human being walking this earth uniquely and individually.
Some people (maybe even us if we’re being completely honest) walk around thinking they are better than others because they are not homeless, not strung out, not on government assistance, or maybe because they have a bigger house, drive a nicer car, are better educated, and have a well-paying job. Do any of those things really make you better than someone else? If so, in whose eyes?
For those followers of Christ, remember this all-important commandment He gave after instructing us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength:
The second [commandment] is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these. Mark 12: 31 NLT
I don’t think many of us are doing such a good job with following this all-important commandment. Are we putting equal importance and priority on loving others (especially those that may offend us or are so different than us), as we put on loving God?
When you love someone, you esteem them, and hold them in high regard. So, if we are following this commandment, we are treating others with a high regard. Even when we feel they don’t deserve it.
This week my sole purpose in writing is to remind readers to do a heart check.
Before you post, comment, or share that next post on social media, ask yourself:
Am I showing love?
Is there a more effective way to make my point?
Is my heart right? If it hasn’t been, it’s not too late to get it right. Make sure it stays soft, open, and loving toward others.
I have a sneaky suspicion that as soon as you consider praying for someone that you’ve never prayed for before – your heart will start getting softer.
So, who are you going to pray for first?
Do you feel like you have had a cold heart during this election cycle against people who think differently than you? Do you have any relationships that need mending?
Will you commit to softening your heart towards others by praying for those that are so very different than you?
Feel free to respond in the comments section… and share this story with someone in your life that could use the encouragement.
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