Given the election results that came in through the night, it is now apparent that the United States is traveling on a highway that is yet to be mapped. For many of us, the old, familiar guideposts of the Christian ethical life, including peace, patience, kindness, generosity, and self-control, do not seem to be essential markers by which many of this nation’s voters make decisions when electing leaders. It will take some time to discover if one of the markers which Jesus set before us—how we treat the least of those among us—will be a priority or an afterthought.
What the church is called to do in any political setting—first century Palestine or twenty-first century America—is to proclaim the good news. We do it best by example. No matter what decisions are made by presidents and congresses and courts, we welcome the stranger, we heal the sick, and we give dignity to the downtrodden. We hold up these people for all to see as the body of Christ. And when that work is not sufficient to make the kingdom clearly visible, we evangelize with words as we speak the Christian truth to people in power. In so doing, we plant our own guideposts in this unmapped future in order to make the journey easier for others.
Being a Christian in a rough-and-tumble world is never easy. It takes patience and kindness and generosity and self-control. But it is holy work. And it leads to peace in our own hearts as we begin to see the power that unconditional love will have eventually to turn this world—and its values—upside down.
Larry R. Benfield