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A Post-Election Prayer (For Everybody)

Dear God,

I truly don’t understand Your plan in all of this, but I’ve decided that I trust You no matter what happens or who is in office. Help me to trust You completely and lean not on my own understanding.

I pray that You bring peace that passes understanding. That hate or bitterness don’t consume us, but rather You give us ideas and strategies to bring healing to our communities, provide for the forgotten and fight for the oppressed.

For others of us, I pray that You remove any hate or pride from our hearts. I pray that we are quick to listen and slow to speak. That we choose to hear the cries of our hurting brothers and sisters instead of any self-righteousness that may be in our hearts.

Christians, I pray that we come together to pray for our new leader. It will not be easy, but let us remember that we are united in the spirit even if we’re divided in the flesh.

God, the feeling of hopelessness is real so please be the “hope of glory” we so desperately need. Remind us that You’re still on the throne and that the power of Trump and Hilary cannot compare to that of the King of Kings.

Sincerely,

A Not So Proud, But Still Hopeful, American

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God Bless America, but honey, America isn’t God

I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed a lot of rhetoric lately that seems to regard The United States as a perfect entity, elevating her to a position that no one should be placed except for God. Nothing on this earth is perfect, but a lot of people seem to be defending the U.S. like it’s the most perfect union rather than the idea of a more perfect union that she was founded on.

America screams of freedom and liberty. Her actions may not always match her words, but she’s laid the foundation for something that can be great. Others see that potential and come running to her.  The land of opportunity, sacrifice and second chances. She is the lady standing tall with an eternal fire.

However, America is not without fault. She has blood on her hands. She has a history with supremacy and oppression. She treats her women differently than her men. She doesn’t apologize for much. She’s a fighter not a lover. She gets caught up in messy politics and arguments. She creates cycles and systems that make justice nearly impossible.

I pray that God blesses her to be all that she can be, but in the meantime, I won’t make her the god that she’s not. She’s beautifully imperfect and a work in progress so I’ll treat her accordingly.

As American journalist and author, Sydney J. Harris, famously stated,

the difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility while the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to a war.”

That calls into question our allegiance. If you are a Christian with a nationalist mindset, your allegiance probably goes solely to your country and you find a way to morph your faith to explain the wrongs that your country has committed. But if you are a Christian with a patriot mindset, then you are most likely proud of your country, but your convictions will not allow you to stand by and ignore the wrongs of the country. In other words, for the nationalist, his country comes before his faith and for the patriot his faith will probably come before his country.

And the patriot has the right mindset because our faith is eternal and everything else is temporal, which means that our belief in God transcends borders.

Oftentimes, I feel that Christians living in America forget that Jesus did not die for just Americans. John 3:16  says, “For God so loved the WORLD that He gave his only begotten son…” He created, died for and still loves the whole world and the diverse set of people in it. How dare American Evangelicals be so selfish and closed-minded? That’s why it’s so important to gain perspective and not deceive ourselves that America’s way is the right and only way.  America’s way does not necessarily equal God’s way. If you are a Bible-believing Christian, then you believe that “Jesus is THE WAY, the truth and the life“and if you put anything in the place of Jesus, then that’s considered to be an idol.

So wait, if God cares for more than just America, could that mean that the wars, policies and politicians that a majority of American Evangelicals fight for might not be in alignment with God’s will? Quite possibly. We have to remember that Americans are not the center of the universe and although God loves each of American deeply, He also deeply loves those from the remaining 194 countries of the world.

So be mindful and careful, especially in high-tension  political seasons, to check your allegiance. If your allegiance to America is greater than your allegiance to God, then it’s very likely that you have made America a god in your life. Do not limit God to a country, a political party, or a politician, He’s so much more than that and it is high time we tear down the idols that prevent us from seeing Him for all that He is.

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Listening & Embracing the Ugliness

As this election season quickly approaches, there are some things that are important to consider. Although everyone has their freedom to vote as they choose, there are some issues that transcend political lines – they are human issues, not political issues.

A lot of people are so busy defending their party that they don’t take the time to hear other perspectives. They forget that every decision, every policy, every action step affects real humans and real families, in the states or abroad.

I’ve witnessed the power of dialogue. A lot of people think that talking through issues is a weak initiative. However,  it is one of the strongest moves anyone can make, especially if all parties are genuinely listening to the heart of what’s being shared and an action plan to move forward is explored after the conversation.

When people come together, share their opinions, and most importantly, listen to “the other side,” progress can be made. A lot of the time, people from differing parties are saying very similar things, but are shouting so loud that they never take time to listen and hear the other out.

When you choose to listen,  it’s important to embrace the ugliness and messiness of all perspectives.

In other words, as decent human beings, we should all agree that there is something beautiful that happens when someone can own up to their imperfections. However, somehow that has not translated into politics. People refuse to admit the wrongs and flaws with their respective political party or with America as a whole. Nevertheless, the bigger picture, flaws and all, is essential for a holistic and well-rounded narrative.

For example, you can admit that both Israel and Palestine could make better decisions and  still be pro-one country or the other. You can admit that #blacklivesmatter could use a more central leader to bring greater clarity to the movement and  still fight for racial justice. You can admit that both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton have some major issues and  still vote. You can admit that America was founded on genocide and slavery and  still be patriotic to a degree. And heck, Jesus knew that we were all sinners and  still loved us to the point of death.

It’s not always “either or.” Issues with this country are not nearly that simple. It’s healthy to acknowledge the complexities and  messiness of it all without oversimplification.

That’s when real change can be made – when you embrace the ugliness, own up to it, broaden your focus to human lives and not just political parties, and still stand up for what’s right to you. That’s maturity. That’s beautiful. That’s what can happen in the weeks leading up to November 2016 if America chooses to intentionally listen.