Kent Ingle: Why Christians are called to approach this election season (and every season) with grace and mercy

Which presidential candidate will win over voters of faith come November?

Insight from Cissie Graham Lynch, Franklin Graham’s daughter.

Each term our political elections are becoming increasingly polarized, and navigating them as a Christian can feel progressively confusing.

Now with the Democratic and Republican National Conventions over, it brings us closer to the roaring, ripping tides of the 2020 political election come November. It is conventional wisdom that we all start really paying attention to the election after Labor Day and begin to come to conclusions on how our vote will count. For Christians, these critical moments in the election season provide us with another opportunity to allow God to guide our words and actions and further display the love of God.

This election season was kicked off highly divisive, maybe far from any other recent election. There is easily more name-calling, more political bashing and agendas posed against each other that consumes us in every social circumstance. On a basic human level, we have forgotten how to treat each other with dignity and respect. We have failed to engage in civil debate and rather turn to outlandish fits of tweeting, commenting and hurling hurtful words in the name of politics. For those who identify as Christians, we can easily follow suit to the norms of the election season.

We have become pros at the game of politics, and all the while, we have forgotten the grace and peace God has called us to live in accordance with. Approaching the upcoming election, we can feel so strongly about our convictions that we forget to consider how God wants us to handle our beliefs. We need to understand why and how we take part in feeding the polarization of current politics. It is vital that we recognize the many ways God’s truth calls us to act in this season of division, and all seasons for that matter.

We can be so focused on what we value and believe that we are quick to forget how God has commanded us to treat one another. As Christians our values are essential to us because of our knowledge of God’s love. Our beliefs and convictions are deeply a part of us and our walk of faith. But when protecting these convictions comes at the cost of how we talk, act and react to people, are we really living according to God’s love?

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Our faith should not cause us to become defensive of our beliefs out of fear, but rather we should remember that God’s first call on us is to love. The issues that are at hand grow more complicated each year, and the policies that we struggle to see eye to eye on become more intense. Yet, as these elections grow more complex, we mustn’t learn to fight harder, but instead to listen more closely to God’s word.

God has called us to approach this very controversial political election (and all situations) in his grace, peace and mercy. Notably, as Christians, when we are selecting who will govern our nation, we can become quickly defensive about the policies we choose to stand by. Contrary to how many of us can act, God has called us to more than defending our beliefs. He has called us to respond to everyone with gracious hearts and in mercy.

We must understand how every Facebook post, Instagram comment and daily interaction can feed the polarization of our nation and remember our role as Christ-followers at the height of this political election. We can and should continue to hold to the values that we believe to be true. But at the same time, we must seek to be agents of God’s mercy.

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By living in a rhythm of forgiveness, being patient with the differences of those around us, and showing respect to those we disagree with, we can better navigate this election as Christ’s followers.

Selecting a president can often cause us to live in fear of losing our values and in defense of everyone who views the election differently. But it shouldn’t. Instead, it should only remind us that Christ has not called us to live out of fear or defense, but through his love, grace and mercy.

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