It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that when Q and I greeted Jaron as we walked through airport security in Auckland International Airport, laden in luggage and overnight flight fogginess, the day after the US presidential election that we were quickly intercepted by a woman…And a cameraman…With a microphone.
“Are you American?”
“What do you think of the election?”
“Who did you vote for?”
“Will lots of Americans be trying to move to New Zealand now?”
Since we first arrived a year ago, the conversations have gone like this, “Hi I’m so and so. Glad to meet you. Are you from America? What do you think of the presidential race?” At the grocery store and the playground and church and in lines at New Zealand’s tourism hot spots.” My kiwi neighbor kids told me they were having a mock US election at their school.
America, in case you were wondering, the world is watching. The world is holding its collective breath on economics and trade agreements and civil rights and immigration and refugee policies and all the things that have been front and center during this election cycle. Truly, the impact is more far reaching than American borders. And the world is wondering, “America, are you really the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
What the world needs to see is Jesus.
So, American Christians, while you have the world’s eye, you have an incredible opportunity. Church, don’t miss this. Fellow Jesus followers, don’t take it lightly. We have an opportunity to model for the world how a great and diverse people works through conflict. We have an opportunity to demonstrate what it means to be gracious and merciful and compassionate and Christ-like. Church in America: we have the opportunity to show Jesus to the world.
In the way we…
Offer words of grace to family members who voted differently
Shake hands with the neighbor who rooted for the other side
Offer hospitality to those who come from a different tribe, creed, culture, or context
Stand up for those who fear
Sit with those who grieve
Lend a hand to a stranger
Have compassion for those who lack
Facilitate peace through words and actions
Whether your candidate won or lost. Whether you are on the right or the left or neither. Whether the President does or does not do these things. Why? Because mercy and compassion, humility and grace have always been the way of Christ. Every day. For 2,000+ years. In times of peace. In times of turmoil. Whether anyone is watching or not. Church, do we remember how Jesus loved? Can we live how Jesus lived?
When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” he told a story about a Samaritan man who helped a Jewish man. They couldn’t have been more different in race or religion. They couldn’t have come from more opposite sides of the tracks. They couldn’t have had a bigger cultural divide to cross. This kind of thing… it’s not new to Jesus. He has been here before.
So, American church, the world is watching. And the world wants to know if America is a place where hate is harbored or where love is unconditional; where rioters have the last say or peaceful conversations abound; where lines are drawn or bridges are built. The world wants to know what we are going to do in the face of turmoil. The world needs to see how our God and our faith stand up to chaos. The world needs to see if we have anything of value to offer after all.