Our Better Angels

 

The man’s face was contorted in rage.

He was yelling and screaming – except when he was chanting.

He was protesting, I suppose, the marvels of democracy. He didn’t like the results of the presidential election. His candidate didn’t win and he was protesting the one who did – President-elect Donald Trump.

More than 120 million Americans cast votes for either Trump or Clinton on November 8.

It was an even split – actually Clinton won slightly more votes. The Electoral College, which our founders gave us to help prevent mob rule, delivered its clear majority to Trump.

Every day since, people have taken to the streets in protest.

The peaceful transfer of political power – a hallmark in this democratic republic – continues. Secretary Clinton delivered a gracious and eloquent concession speech. President Obama welcomed Mr. Trump to the White House for their first meeting. The President was also gracious – as was the President-elect.

All three called for acceptance of the results, a chance for new leadership and a healing of the country’s deep divisions.

The man who was so angry waved a sign. It said Love Trumps Hate.

I noted the irony. The man seemed anything but loving. Unexpected defeat seldom brings out the best in anyone.

Yes, the supporters of Hillary Clinton are stunned, bitter, heartbroken and in anguished disbelief.

A presidential campaign fueled by division in a country already historically divided could not have ended any other way: a close result, with the losers angrily unwilling to recognize the winners.

The divide now suddenly widens and deepens, were it possible.

After I spoke about the election at a men’s morning Bible study, one of the men said that the divisions are more than national – they are often very personal. He told the group of 40 men that his mother-in-law is so distraught she has refused to speak about it.

Then he suggested that here was an opportunity for Christians to show the love of Christ in how we responded to those we know who stand on the other side of this cultural ravine.

Some may be in our families. Some are in mine.

It was a great point.

In the darkness of recriminations and despair, you and I must let our light shine.

The sign is right: love does trump hate.

It’s the only thing that does.

In his life and in his death, Jesus Christ proved that.

Jesus has given us his teachings. He’s also given us his example. He has told us to be meek and humble and to be peacemakers. He said people would hate us and mock us for following him. He told us not to retaliate in kind but to turn the other cheek.

This doesn’t mean we apologize for our convictions or try to draw out a compromise on uncompromising principles. Churches and pastors – eager to win the world’s approbation – do that too often. Charles Spurgeon was correct:

“To hold with the hare and run with the hounds is a dastard’s policy”.

Sometimes the only ground between right and wrong is battle ground.

May God help our leaders to remain strong in the face of growing opposition to our faith.
But if we say we follow Jesus, we must act like it and talk like it and think like it. We must never succumb to hate and bitterness or view our fellow citizens as enemies instead of adversaries.

There is a difference.

Even if we are led to believe we have enemies among those who disagree with us – even then we are left with the example of the One we call Lord. He offered not a word of accusation or defense at his bogus trial. On the cross, among his final words was a plea to his Father to forgive those who had murdered him.

This country is not facing its greatest division.

One hundred and fifty-five years ago, Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s new president, spoke to a country torn asunder and on the precipice of a literal civil war. He had been elected by a hair under 40 % of the popular vote against three opponents. Seven Southern states had voted to leave the union following his election.

It was the greatest crisis in our nation’s history.

As he closed his inaugural address on the steps of an unfinished U.S. capital building, Lincoln made an eloquent plea to his countrymen. It’s worth remembering, taking to heart and putting into practice.

“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature”.

The Apostle Paul told us that you and I have been given by Jesus Christ both a message and a ministry of reconciliation. (II Corinthians 5:18-20).We must not be conquered by evil, Paul told the Roman believers. We must overcome evil with good (Romans 12: 21).

In these contentious times, may we resolve to answer this call and let God touch our hearts and minds – and the better angels of our nature.

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Filed under Christian World View, Current Events, Faith, Politics, Religion

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