Today is Election Day. As glad as I am to see the campaign ads go in the shredder (the race for Congress here in New York State has been particularly nasty), there is election excitement in our household: it is our middle child’s first presidential election. I am pretty sure her vote will be different than mine in many categories, but that is okay: she is her own person, with her own views and she, like me, is trying to figure out this crazy, conflict-filled world we live in.
There are no easy answers when making tough decisions that may impact us for years to come. No one person is right on every issue (although there is plenty of self-righteousness to go around). But for the believer, there is a guide to making wise decisions in our everyday lives: the Bible. I am not talking politics in this paragraph or in the remainder of this piece; I am talking about ground-level living for the person who professes to believe in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
When you truly believe in something, you live it out. To live it out, your belief must be informed. For the Christian, thoughtful study of the Bible should inform thinking and actions. A troubling aspect of ministry life is being privy to seeing trouble in people’s lives and how they work it out. And many times, the trouble itself goes unrecognized, or the process of working it out does not have anything to do with the Truth found in the Bible. I have to be careful here--I need to confess that I have not always “spoken the truth in love” or forgiven my enemies or responded gently instead of harshly or [insert sin problem here].
When our son was a baby, he spoke early. One of his first phrases was, “Read it!” He loved books--in fact, when he was as young as four or five months old, if you showed him any of his board books, he got really excited.
If we would just “Read it!” we would solve a lot of problems in the Church. “Submit to one another” = humble yourself, and don’t think you are better than anyone else, because you are not. “Don’t commit adultery” = when you married, be faithful. If you are divorcing, be faithful. If you are single, be faithful. “Don’t steal” = don’t take what does not belong to you, including the innocence and peace of others. “Love one another as I have loved you” = well, that one explains itself.
As we read, we grow in belief and love, because the Holy Spirit exposes our need for Jesus and breathes life and forgiveness into our lives as we repent and seek to live out the Gospel. As we obey out of love (and all of us pretty much hate the word ‘obey’ because our inclination is to disobey), even on days like Election Day, our faith can be a witness to a crazy, conflict-filled world.