How do we practice being long-suffering in a polarised world?

This is a picture I saw in my newsfeed today.


And also this


I haven’t really wanted to write about what’s going on over in the USA because I needed to believe that it’s all happening “over there” and not “over here”. Why should we take such interest in what happens overseas?

But when I saw these pictures they grieved me deeply. I grieved about the church, the people of God today.

These pictures, and I’m sure that more are coming, are conveying that previously to the current government, Jesus was marginalised in politics at the White House and now Jesus is free to return because God is guiding the newly inaugurated president. In other words, the new president is anointed and opening wide the gate in government for God to once again lead the nation. I assume it is because many Christians in the USA feel that this nation is anointed to lead the world.

I feel very conflicted about these thoughts that many friends I have, hold dear. They are convinced that God has his hand upon the president in order to return American back to Christianity.

I don’t understand how my friends and I can see Christianity so differently. I wonder to myself if I have become so blind that I cannot fathom how the new president could be a follower of Jesus. Am I too steeped in my left-wing progressive echo-chamber? ┬áIs my theology wrong? Are my friends who are placing their hopes and longing for a better America deceived? Are we all living in our echo-chamber bubbles to the point where we believe that only through our way is the Truth?

Apart from my distaste for state religion, fundamentalism, militarism and triumphalist theology, I am deeply saddened by the personal and community conflict that these polar opposite perspectives are causing among friends and also the church. This threatens to bring further division to the world-wide church.

We are in danger of being more polarised than ever.

So I am trying to practice a few disciplines in order to reduce this atmosphere of polarisation and extremism. I don’t want to contribute to it but I want to function as a peace-maker and healer in times such as this.

Look for the centre

Instead of committing myself to the left or right I want to find out more about those who adhere to the centre of both. I want to get to know those who are on the left who are moderates and the right who are moderates. Surely this is a time where the centre need to be wise and speak out calmly and with clarity.

Be more careful on social media

How tempting is it to put up posts that are snide, snarky and mocking towards those who are on “the other side” of what we believe? I am tempted constantly to share posts that make fun of what I believe to be ridiculous beliefs held by others. But then I ask myself “Is that really going to help reduce this toxic atmosphere that we are swimming in?” I don’t think it will, instead I will contribute to it. And I don’t want to do that.

Speak up on behalf of the weak and marginalised

I am committing to pray prayers of justice for the weak and marginalised in my neighbourhood and my world. I will pray for our leaders and community that we will all choose to think about others first rather than putting ourselves first. I am using this new resource called Praying for justice: A Lectionary. It’s pretty simple and focuses on verses from the Bible that reveal to us a God of justice who encourages us to reflect the Godhead in this quality.

Confront lies and misinformation, false theology and practices with kindness, compassion and humility.

Having said all of this, I don’t want to withdraw into some kind of pietism that says blithely “God is in control. He will have his way” as many of my dear friends do. God is not in control in the way that we might think. God is sovereign but what is happening in the world right now is not necessarily “God’s will”. So I will challenge those who I believe are engaging in false theology or misinformation. Yet I will do that in kindness and humility, knowing that I only see dimly through a glass also. They too are made in the image of God. I am certainly not someone who has my theology altogether! I think many Christian leaders with platforms need to be reminded of this regardless of the “side” they are on.

To me this seems like a time to practice that old fashioned term “long-suffering”. We tend to translate this into “patience” these days. But I think we can use the term because to me, this seems like what we will need to do in the days to come. In hope we suffer long, in patience, bearing with one another’s burdens even in the midst of these days of disorientation.

Let nothing disturb thee

nothing affright thee;

all things are passing

God never changeth!

Patient endurance attaineth to all things

who God possesseth

in nothing is wanting;

alone God sufficeth



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