I keep scrolling.
News. Facebook. Twitter.
I keep scrolling.
Everything I read makes my stomach twist with discomfort. Hatred spewed from both “sides” of the political coin. Left? Right? Which side do I fall on? The lines have been drawn with so many overgeneralizing angles, I can’t quite find their beginnings. According to the vitriol emanating from my screen, if I’m pro-life, then I must be anti-refugee. If I’m not marching for something, I’m standing for nothing. If I’m not using my online presence as a platform to malign the authorities in power, then I’m supporting misogyny and fascism. If I’m not shaking with anger toward one specific group of people, then I don’t love Jesus in the convoluted, progressive manner that people are demanding.
The truth is, none of it fits.
There doesn’t seem to be a voice that’s being heard today that represents how I’m thinking and feeling about the divided nature of our country. I didn’t vote for either major party because my conscience wouldn’t let me. I knew my candidate wouldn’t win, but I only carried my vote in my hands—not yours, so please don’t see that as an indictment toward your right to exercise your personal choice in the voting booth. The beauty of democracy is that you carry your vote into the booth, and I carry mine. I didn’t want to be sitting here trying to sheepishly defend my choice any more than I wanted to be standing in the street screaming because I didn’t get my choice. Laying my head on my pillow at night meant disengaging from the two-party system. I understand if it didn’t look like that for you. It isn’t really about that, anyway. It’s about what happened afterward, and how the division is as great inside the walls of the Church as it is outside.
As I knew would happen last fall, I’m now living in the middle of a great divide. I’m watching people I care about systematically take the other one apart with unbridled anger and ridiculous generalizations. And I know that people from both sides will lump me in with the other because I’ve been silent.
I’ve been silent because I’ve been watching. And what I have seen grieves me. Because, Christians, I’m seeing too many of us take up arms of hatred in the name of love. When I see the accusations toward certain types of professing Christians, I am ashamed that the name-callers are also professing Christians. This tactic seems to work well from either side.
But no matter what kind of public policy people try to pull from the mouth of Jesus, the truth is that one day America will be a tiny blip on history’s time line, and the call for Christians will always be to follow Jesus with Scripture as our absolute authority—because in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Holding to that will mean knowing that sometimes people will hate you because they don’t understand what you believe, and sometimes because they most definitely do.
So I keep scrolling, hoping for something that will give me hope.
It won’t be found in any news outlet. There isn’t one that isn’t absurdly skewed or politically slanted.
It won’t be found in any online argument. Could there be a worse place for discussions than Facebook?
It won’t be found in celebrating or condemning a person on the internet. Your allegiance, Christian, is to one Man only.
Here’s where hope is found for Christians who feel like we’re living in a foreign land: if you feel like you don’t belong here, it’s because you don’t belong here.
“…but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)
Here’s advice for those of us who are living in a foreign land:
“I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. Conduct yourselves honorably among the [nations] so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12)
That’s a call to both active living and patient waiting.
No, I am not represented in today’s political platform.
That’s not a terrible thing for a Christian. I am free to believe things that bother both sides, and I do. I can fight for life inside the womb and out. I can choose to be respectful of our country’s leadership while disagreeing with their decisions. I can live in the tension of rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s while giving to God what is His. I must live in that tension.
I can look for ways to welcome the sojourner because I am one—living in a place where I do not really belong, where assimilation feels impossible, where I feel at odds with every headline, where I speak the language but do not understand it. I can believe that women should have equal rights as long as they don’t infringe upon the rights of the unborn. I can feel angry about racial injustice while raising kids of color and teaching them that all humans are image-bearers. I can speak up in a way that calls for responsibility without murdering in my heart. It seems difficult to do these things, but Christians—we must, we MUST seek a better way to live here on this planet where we’re temporary residents.
On Sunday my husband preached about the line of people highlighted in Hebrews 11 for their steadfast faith in God. Steadfast faith isn’t the absence of doubt. It is pressing forward when doubts settle around your shoulders like a heavy, itchy blanket in the middle of summer’s heat. It is believing in God’s faithfulness when uncertainty looms ahead, a formidable opponent that scares you with its restless anger. It is actively pursuing a life that looks like Jesus’ when all you’ve got to hold on to is the belief that God will continue to be faithful and that His Church will prevail in the ugliest of times.
I long to be steadfast.
To live my life acknowledging that I am a stranger and exile on this earth, to make it clear that I am seeking a homeland, a better country, a heavenly one whose designer and builder is God. (Hebrews 11) In the meantime, I watch, I pray, I look for ways to use my privilege as a tool to help those without such tools and privileges. I stop scrolling so much. I seek to detract from the noise by opening my Bible more often, praying more deeply, and having the noteworthy conversations face-to-face.
I feel very much like a woman without a country these days. I don’t belong in any camp, can’t align myself with any “side.” But the more I dig into Scripture, the more I am okay with my sojourning. When I absorb the words of Jesus, the apostles, and the saints who were the earliest Jesus-followers, I see a pattern of misrepresentation and not-belonging. This was never meant to be home.
Come, Lord Jesus.