Every four years, it happens again. There is a shift in the air and a change in the demeanors of the people who fill our lives – whether on a screen or in person. Some people become more vocal about their political views, whereas others completely turn the volume down on all conversation about politics until Election Day is over. Even though I have grown up around politics since I was six years old, I still have to remind myself that election seasons in America are intense. As Christians, it can be difficult to understand where we fit during this time.
Politics can seem like something that should be off-limits to many Christians who see the harm and discord that comes from it, but we shouldn’t stay away from conversations that might veer confrontational. We can enter into them with the willingness to understand one another rather than to simply win an argument. We can use this time to play the role of peacemaker when it seems as if a lot of people value controversy over conclusion.
Growing up, I sometimes found myself getting along better with non-Christians because it seemed to me as if they were passionate about issues, even if I didn’t agree with them on their views. We related to one another because we were excited about the future and wanted to be aware of what was happening in the world, whereas sometimes my religious friends didn’t venture into these conversations that were tough and messy, but provided growth for me.
I used to think that this was a product of being a Christian, that religious faith was something that would make you complacent or timid in some way. As I got older and encountered more people who were serious about their faith in God, I realized that the inclination to be non-confrontational didn’t happen because someone was religious or not. Anyone can make an effort to reach out a hand, to come alongside those who have had different experiences, to try to understand them. And anyone can do the opposite of this and stay inside their community where everyone agrees.
A support system is important, and it’s vital to have people with the same values who will challenge your beliefs and push you to develop them further, but it’s equally essential to take these views into places where you are not safe from criticism.
Christians should step into the places that seem the most challenging. This doesn’t mean posting about our political or religious views online every day, but rather navigating our personal relationships with care and openness. We should let our faith lead the way and make it the primary label we place upon ourselves.
The celebration of cancellation looms large in our everyday lives, but it’s important not to allow this to affect our walk of faith. The most important message a Christian sends every day is the one that reminds others of his or her relationship with Christ.
Our journey with God might call us into an uncomfortable arena, maybe even within the world of politics. However, our walk with Him must be the light that guides us towards that path, not selfish ambition or adherence to a certain party that we might grow away from over time. When we lean into His will for our lives, He promises to direct our steps, but He might do so in a way that challenges what we thought to be true.
It’s easy to feel silenced right now, but this is the time to listen first, and then speak up with grace. As we return to life in new ways this fall, let’s remember the importance of being honest about our beliefs, even when it opens us up to disapproval. But we should be careful to do so in a way that doesn’t “cancel” out our own claims about our walk with God.
Jesus told us to do one of the hardest things. He said that we should turn the other cheek, that we should let people hit us – not just once – but again after they already have.
In our world today, the call to be kind can start to feel like a constant effort. It is easier to harshly reply to a comment online or lash out at someone who seems to embody the political characteristics that we dislike. However, when we turn the other cheek, the world takes notice. And it is in those moments that true love shines through, and change occurs.
Charlotte Pence Bond is the New York Times best-selling author of Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President along with two other books in the series. Her first solo book, Where You Go: Life Lessons from My Father (Center Street) was released in October 2018 and reveals lessons her father, Vice President Mike Pence, has taught her. She is a current contributor to Lightworkers.com and her work has been published in The Washington Times, Glamour magazine and featured in US Weekly, among other major media outlets. A graduate of DePaul University with a BA in Digital Cinema Screenwriting and English, Charlotte contributed writing and production skills to the Emmy Award-winning documentary Fleeced (WFYI Productions). Charlotte currently attends Harvard Divinity School where she is a candidate for a Masters in Theological Studies, with an emphasis on religious themes in literature and culture.