It’s been quite the week in politics. The Prime Minister’s Brexit speech, a Northern Ireland election announcement, and now the inauguration of President Trump. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, it’s clear that things aren’t straightforward, and haven’t been for a while.
Many of our significant political choices now seem to come in binary options. Are you in or out? Republican or Democrat? Narratives around these decisions have become divisive, and those who take opposing views can become demonised as we feel betrayed by fellow Christians who voted differently to us.
When the choice boils down to x or y, it can be easy to characterise outcomes as winning or losing. Brexit won. Republicans won. If you voted otherwise, you’re a loser… or so the logic goes. Things are black and white. Someone is either a ‘goodie’ or a ‘baddie’. Something is either ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’. You either ‘win’ or you ‘lose’.
But it’s never really that simple, is it? Many Americans, Christians included, agonised for weeks and months over how to vote. And although good intentions do not necessarily mean a good outcome, we must not gloss over the complex ethical, moral, and spiritual decisions that the presidential election posed.
As the rubber hits the road today with President Trump’s inauguration, it’s easy to throw stones at the other side, to be smug if you’ve ‘won’, or bitter if you’ve ‘lost’.
But what if we did something radical, and refused to play the game of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’? What if we saw those we differ from politically simply as people like us, fallen and broken, but trying their best? What if we remembered that, although God is fazed by injustice, misogyny, and racism, he is still sovereign, and our ultimate hope lies not in politicians, Brexit, or the single market, but in our God who suffered and died for us on a Roman cross?
As Christians, as people of the Risen King, we know that God can bring good out of any circumstance. We know that, ultimately, through Jesus, we have a hope that is not of this world.
So maybe we don’t have to see it as a ‘win’ or a ‘lose’ situation. Maybe, instead, it’s an opportunity for a more radical, possibly even counter-cultural, commitment to follow the New Testament mandates – to honour the governing authorities, to pray for our leaders, and – no matter their political views – to love our neighbours as ourselves.