It’s been a heck of a year.
At many times, I was afraid for the state of Christianity.
2016 was the year of shouting, and softer voices temporarily got drowned out. This was also the year of labels. The candidates had labels and so did Christians. The media spoke of “the Evangelicals” as synonymous with “the Christians”, which was simplistic and false. It had its place in election reporting, but it was a form of shorthand that was deceptive, leading people to believe that there is only 1 kind of Christian and there is a checklist to be followed. Call me Pollyanna, but I think there is as much diversity in Christianity as there is in any other area, and I think that is a fantastic and necessary thing for actual unity to occur. I think that what we non- Evangelicals bring to the party is also valuable.
I have been a Christian my whole life, but not an Evangelical, because my personal belief it that religion and politics is a bad pairing. Politics is a tribal blood sport! It’s “our team” vs. “their team.” It, of necessity, relies on soundbites, shorthand, and over- simplification and generalization of issues and the categorization and labeling of people. I think we can all agree that we have had enough of that.
My first Christmas wish for Christianity it that we drop the labels and checklists! Stop the madnessJ It is what is in our hearts, that only God himself knows that is what matters. We can’t attribute intent to someone because of how they voted.
Allow me to use a little humor to make my point. Is God a Republican? Is he an Evangelical? Did he have a favorite in the election? Was he rooting for Hillary or Bernie? Or Russia?
Though a registered Republican, I have voted Democrat or Independent in the past 3 elections, because I don’t want people in Washington that I have never met telling me how to be a Christian. Am I still a good Christian if I really don’t like Congress or the President telling me how to live my life?
What if I believe in separation of church and state despite the fact that I’m a Christian? Do I forfeit my faith card?
Yes, these scenarios are ridiculous. Can we stop pretending that they aren’t?
There are as many shades and flavors of faith as there are people professing it. There is not only room for all of us, but all of us are needed to raise our voices during this Christmas season and be reminders of what we actually agree upon, and it is a lot, despite what we see on the news and our Twitter and Facebook feeds. So, my second Christmas wish is that we ,put those sources of division away for at least some of each day during the holidays and focus on what draws us together.
The following are the things that we agree upon: We believe in loving our neighbors as ourselves and at least attempting to see them with understanding. We believe in peace and compassion, good will toward men, assuming the best until proven otherwise. Each of us, not matter what our faith, believe it is sacred and not something to be exploited by anyone –ever. We believe in extending grace, because we have received it. We believe in opportunity and optimism.
We are still the most compassionate, generous, open minded and open hearted nation on earth. The labels don’t matter. We know who we are. And I think God’s still rooting for us.