Living Surprisingly in Times of Division

As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.

I know elections come with a lot of partisan silliness that can cause us to groan and slip into cynicism and apathy. But as people of hope, rooted in Christ, it’s important to buck the trend of political cynicism, to be surprising by being hopeful, even grateful. Visible gratitude for the opportunity to act as citizens for the good of our communities is counter-cultural in an age of cynicism. Acting out of that gratitude with hope and resolve is a deep reflection of the love of Christ for the world.

We know from Jesus’ prayer in John 17 that Jesus wants the Church to be one…  When we lack unity, or at the very least, mutual respect, as people of faith we lose our saltiness, and our light grows dim. The church, diverse as it is, has some important common bonds:  Belief in a faithful Creator, the saving grace of Christ and the transformative actions of the Spirit in the world, sacred acts of worship and service, and the bonds of community and friendship - often across generations.  Each of these pieces of unity, even with real life tensions and messiness, are unique and important in this time in this culture and give us a model for how to approach other conversations. 

So what does surprising-grateful-hopeful  living look like? First, by learning to talk together about difficult things and by modeling civility in our public actions, Christians demonstrate mutual respect and healthy engagement in our culture – think of Romans 12 transformation, a Beatitudes testimony, and James 1 true religion here.  When we move these ideas of mutual respect and empathy beyond the church basement and into the world, it can become is a public and visible faith commitment to justice and the good of all.

Second, surprising living is grateful in the face of the all too common campaign tactics of negativity and division.  Rather than let these tactics breed cynicism and disengagement from our citizenship tasks we can be counter-culturally thankful. Gratitude for political freedom that celebrates the opportunity we have to help contribute to the good of our neighbours can be an antidote to toxic negativity. 

When we act from gratitude in hope - by voting and by being active for justice and reconciliation between elections, we live a transformative Christian testimony in these times of division.  So I encourage you: to make use of the many great voter discernment tools we have; to pray for a civil and thoughtful campaign; and to interact with candidates in your riding with respect and hopefulness. 

Editor's note: This is a shortened version of a post Mike Hogeterp made on the Do Justice blog. In the original post, he also encouraged Canadian voters to access voter discernment tools available from the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue. Find the original post here.

About the Author

Mike Hogeterp works with the Committee for Contact with the Government, a CRC-Canada justice ministry, and worships with Meadowlands Fellowship CRC in Ancaster, Ontario.

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