It doesn’t take incredible spiritual insight to see that there is division in our country right now. There is a dividing line, and the majority of people are on the right or the left. It has gone well beyond issues, causes and firmly held beliefs to gross politics, slander and even hate.
I often have said that Jesus isn’t Republican or Democrat. He is God. I love this example in Joshua. Joshua is getting ready to fight one of the most famous battles in the Bible, the battle of Jericho, and this is what it says: “Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” (Joshua 5:13-14 NIV)
I love the Lord’s response here! “I’m not for you or against you; I’m in charge.” In other words, there is a third way, and that’s just simply letting God be in charge. I understand that with many different church backgrounds and life experiences, there will be many different ideas and interpretations on what it means to just simply let God be in charge.
As a pastor and more importantly as a Christ follower, I always will champion the Bible as the inerrant Word of God and the standard by which we make decisions and that absolutely needs to be part of the equation for what it looks like to let God lead. However, the answer to the majority of the division in our country isn’t just quoting a Bible verse that supports your agenda. It isn’t having a convincing argument or seeing your person win an election, or even your issue winning the vote.
Here’s the question we have to ask ourselves, and the answer will reveal if God is leading or if you are. Do I love the other side? Regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong and what issues I’m willing to die for, “do I love them?” And then the follow-up question is as important, “Does the other side know that I love them?”
This doesn’t just apply to our political parties and preferences. What about the people in your life who are hard for you to be around? Jesus had a simple but difficult solution to the division that slips in to our relationships, let alone every realm of society, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28 NIV).
You don’t have to back down from what you believe. You don’t need to stop voting your conscience and being involved in politics. You don’t even need to hang out all the time with those who are hard to get along with. However, we all need to hear Jesus’ words as more than just a good suggestion, but rather a command.
Jesus is telling us to love those who are hard to love and to do it in such a way that they know that we love them. This is the third way. This is how we let God lead.
The Rev. Jonathan Lumbard is lead pastor of Spirit of Life Church in Kearney.