It was with much disbelief and overwhelming sorrow that I watched Wednesday’s images showing citizens of this nation storming our federal capitol, smashing its doors and windows, fighting with the police, and vandalizing that historic building. My heart breaks for my daughter and all our children as I contemplate the country they might inherit. I worry that the great American experiment in democracy has been lost forever. I pray that it has not. The next few years will be crucial for our nation if we are able to chart a course toward repairing our republic.
The system of government that binds us together is designed for disagreement. Our freedom is that each person has a voice—there is no monarch telling us how to think. We are free to speak our minds; we are free to dissent; we are free to vote. But in the end, the expectation is that we will work together for the betterment of all. It has always been the case that each “side” believes the other side does not listen. That may or may not be accurate. But it doesn’t matter. No matter what “side” we are on, each of us must make the effort to listen, because only by listening can we love.
I find that the words of Paul are helpful now. And I especially like the way his words to the Philippian church are translated in “The Message.” They remind us that, as Christians, we are called to love each person as Christ loves them. Paul writes: If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand (Philippians 2:1-4).
Friends, in this new year, let us make it our goal to learn to love as Christ loves each of us.