BY JEREMY OLIMB, PASTOR OF ADULT DISCIPLESHIP
Is there anything that 2020 isn’t going to make difficult? This weekend, we head into what is, in a typical year, a time of fun and parties and candy and neighbors. When Halloween comes around, I normally find myself reminding the church what a great opportunity we have to be the best neighbors possible in our community.
But this year, like everything it seems, it’s complicated.
Should we participate this year? Should we sit it out? Do I feel comfortable with a stream of strangers coming to my door? Do my neighbors feel comfortable with that same thing? Are people overreacting? Are people underreacting? In the middle of it all, there seems to be only one thing we can all agree on; we’ve never experienced anything like this before.
And in the midst of all of that, I just went for a walk around my neighborhood and noticed an interesting phenomenon. On my street, there is a passive aggressive political war going on. Signs supporting preferred political candidates have gone up overnight in a cluster of homes, all closely packed together. It’s not hard to see these opposing signs doing two things at the same time. The first is obvious. My neighbors are attempting to communicate their support of their particular candidate of choice.
The second is more subtle and more concerning. The rapid chain reaction of signs from opposing points of view going up in sequence also seems to underpin another attempt to communicate. They say, we are different and we disagree. They say, they are those types of people and we are these types of people.
I’ve been around long enough to know that this kind of thing is normal in the waning days of a major election. But what is abnormal, this time around, is that so many of the counteracting moments of community that balance those disagreements have been removed from our experience. Moments like Halloween, where we pour into the streets and visit each other’s homes. Where we laugh and share candy and smile at each other. Moments that remind us that our neighbors are more like us than our political opinions say that we are.
This year, as we stumble into a week filled with a messy Halloween season followed by an even messier election, I want to remind us of our role as Christians in this frightened, fractured, frustrated world.
We are to be peacemakers. We are to be light bringers. We are to be ambassadors of the kingdom of God. We are to be reconcilers. We are to be meek. We are to be lowly. We are to be gentle in spirit. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to be confident. We are to be at rest.
We aren’t those things because we have mustered up the logic and strength to become those things but because we have been given the gift of seeing the world as it really is.
We know there was a war for the future of the world, but it was already won when death was defeated. We know there is a righteous king on the throne and that his name is Jesus. We know of a kingdom where goodness and patience and kindness and justice and truth reign and we have been sent to bring a taste of that kingdom to our world.
This year, maybe as much as anytime in my lifetime, the world needs us to be these kinds of people. While our communities are being divided along political lines, along mask wearing lines, and along school opening lines, we have access to the one place where true unity can be found, at the foot of the cross and in the kingdom of God.
This weekend, I want to remind us of the responsibility we have to be demonstrators of unity and peace in the church.
The free gift of grace we have received, the loving forgiveness found in the gospel, and the confidence of a kingdom of God that is already secured, allow us to be people who give grace, offer forgiveness and move with confidence. Our interaction with our neighbors, both in person and online, should be like cool sips of water on a hot desert day.
Let us be the best neighbors our community has today.
- Let’s pray for the peace of God to be seen in a world that can’t find it.
- Let’s pray for the calm confidence of a people who know how the story ends to be seen in a world that is terrified of a future they can’t see.
- Let’s pray for the unity of the church to be seen in a world that thinks unity is unachievable.
- Let’s pray for God to make us into the people the world needs. People who faithfully point them to the faithfulness of King Jesus.
They need to see him now as much as they ever have.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.Romans 12:18