After the inauguration America is going to need the church more than ever! The election is long past, but the divisions remain—and some of these divisions exist within our churches. Which leads us to a pressing question: How can we as evangelicals be unified and have a credible witness to the Gospel before the watching world? I would like to share three key steps that I think will start us in the right direction.
1. Listen Without Judging
“… be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…” – James 1:19
Have a conversation with someone who voted differently than you did. Don’t judge them, but hear their words and also their hearts. Ask them why they felt the way they did on election night. Perhaps they agonized about their choices in the election as much as you did; this was, after all, an election in which some people had to choose which candidate they wanted to vote against. Believe it or not, there are arguments on both sides.
Appreciate the reasoning of those who felt that they could not, in good conscience, vote for either candidate. Dialogue often resolves division, or at least sheds light on the differences and brings understanding.
Don’t tell people that they are upset about the wrong issues; after all, they may think the same about you. Let people own their disappointment and anger. Seek to understand them, not to correct them.
2. Find Common Ground
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” – 1 Peter 3:8
Seek to find common ground in concerns we have for the good of the country, our neighborhoods, and our communities. Surely we can agree on matters that relate to human rights, freedom of religion, racial equality, and helping the poor. Let the two political streams that developed during the campaign push us toward a more unified and Christ-honoring center.
As Mark Galli wrote in a recent article in Christianity Today, “The church of weak, misguided, and partisan sinners is united by something that transcends our foolishness” (January/February 2017, p.24).
3. Pursue Unity
Jesus prayed “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” – John 17:21
Let us be united by that Name that is above every name. Let our unity in Christ overshadow divisions about race, gender, economic status, or strident political positions. Let those who name the name of Christ be welcome in our churches regardless of who they voted for, and may that welcome not merely be shown with words, but with deeds and attitudes.
I believe the evangelical church has much work to do in its own backyard. We pray for revival while we tolerate sin; we affirm the truth of the Gospel but fail to witness to our neighbors; we say that we love our enemies but display hate to people bound in their sins and sinful lifestyles; we affirm our oneness in Christ but harbor racial prejudice in our hearts.
Let our individual and corporate repentance be what crushes our pride and brings us unified to the foot of the cross. America needs us to light the path to hope, healing, and true reconciliation. Let the bond between us be so strong that neither Clinton nor Trump can tear it apart.