Tuesday, November 4, 2008

At All Times

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

                        Proverbs 17.17

Winners and Losers

Barring any widespread anomalies, Americans will retire reasonably early tonight knowing who their next President will be. As always, the media won’t wait for sunrise to fan flames of rancor once an outcome seems assured. Winners will rest easy, vindicated in victory. Losers will lie down on hard pillows of bitterness and recrimination. It's been a grueling, polarizing ordeal for everyone, undoubtedly the most impassioned, divisive election of our lifetimes. The Founding Fathers would beam with pride at the personal sacrifices millions have made in this effort. They’d also counsel against assuming our animosities have ended. The people have spoken, but this was merely pre-work for the real work. There’s still much to discuss and a big job ahead.

Across the Street

While our leaders vow to “reach across the aisle” now that the contest is ended, it’s up to us—as Christians and Americans—to head across the street and mend torn feelings and respect between our neighbors and us. If ever we needed to love one another, it’s now. Our country stares down a highway of uncertainty. We have miles to go before we sleep comfortably, untroubled by unjust hardships, inequities, and paranoia born of leadership run amok. There’s no time to crow in victory or grumble in defeat. We have to override our differences now to move forward together. This goes double for the winners among us. Our fervent commitment to success must not fade. If anything it must intensify for everyone’s sake—even those mercilessly opposed to us, our politics, and our beliefs.

Brothers/Sisters Against Adversity

 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity,” Solomon said. Facing mounting difficulties, it’s time we restore friendships, joining as brothers and sisters against common adversity. Again, here’s Solomon: “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18.24)  Friendship, unlike elections, isn’t about numbers. It’s about authenticity. Followers of Christ are primed for this effort. Obedience to His law insists we meet this challenge by stepping aside to express God’s abundant, unconditional love. Because we don’t find certain people or their opinions agreeable doesn’t absolve our responsibility to stick close to them, to expand our horizons to consider their good as well as ours. Many currently suffering battle fatigue may question this or doubt it’s possible. But if the friendship principle weren’t crucial to our happiness and success, if it weren’t truly within our grasp, why does God’s Word teach it?

Ostracized believers are particularly qualified for this job. We know how it feels to be turned away by an empowered majority. We know the anger, resentment, and doubts produced by rejection. We know the indelible influence of people who dare to love and accept us as their own, despite our differences. We know what true friendship is and its power to change long-held thoughts and behaviors. More than ever, the time comes for others to benefit from all we know.

In the election's aftermath, as politicians vow to "reach across the aisle," we as believers should head across the street to restore torn friendships with the other side.

(Tomorrow: Plow Ahead)  

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