I know this is totally presumptuous and kind of manipulative even to write, but I wonder how God must feel when He watches the post-election reactions of many people who claim allegiance to Him.  My guess: not so great.

Whatever your political persuasion, I hope we can all agree that the historic election of Senator Barack Obama as the next President of the United States is worthy of recognition, even celebration.  While his election does not mean that racism in America has been “solved” it does reflect the significant progress we’ve made over the last hundred, fifty, and even ten years.  As a person of color, I resonate with many reflections I’ve heard recently about how now we can honestly tell our children that they can be anything they want, even President of the United States.

However, the conversation among many Christians has been anything but celebratory.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci offers some great thoughts about how deeply divided the Church has been during this election (and post-election) season.  I left the following comment on his site:

Jamie — Thank you for your heartfelt and thoughtful words. My wife and I, as co-pastors of our church community, have definitely felt this tension. In fact, we’ve been getting all kinds of crazed pamphlets, flyers and even faxes (faxes!) at church proclaiming the imminent apocalyptic doom awaiting the United States because of our new president-elect. Sigh.

We have chosen not to voice our political opinions, even in private conversations with our church community, because of the intense polarization between red & blue. We have been urging grace, wisdom and understanding, but it’s hard when many of our friends receive (and forward) all the shrill hate-emails circulating around under the guise of promoting “Christian” values. Humility, gentleness and self-control get drowned out by the loudspeakers people are using to promote fear, division and hatred.

Thank you for pointing out that, as much as we’re called to be engaged, our ultimate hope isn’t in any candidate, policy or government

My wife was recently at a gathering where a leader opened the meeting by praying nervously for “God’s protection” in the wake of the election results — the implication being that we wouldn’t have needed God’s protection had the other candidate won or, at least, real Christians wouldn’t have to be so panicky.

If you need some real-time evidence about the level of vitriol many who claim allegiance to Christ are directing toward the new President-Elect and those who voted for him (or are even perceived as supporting him), take a look at the firestorm brewing over at Marko’s blog about Youth Specialties’ recent publication of Barack Obama: An American Story.

In the comments, you can find the typical accusations of President-Elect Obama as a “baby killer” and how they don’t need him to inspire their students because Jesus is inspiration enough.  Now, I certainly don’t mean to overlook the abortion issue — as followers of Christ, we have to deal seriously with this. I agree with many of Eugene Cho’s insights into the abortion conversation, particularly his call for Christ-followers to embody a consistent ethic of life from “womb to tomb.”  However, I highly doubt that the best way to change people’s hearts and minds is by red-faced shouting, self righteous finger-wagging or slanderous name-calling.

What really struck me about Marko’s post is how the focus of attacks subtly shifted from President-Elect Obama to Youth Specialties (and Zondervan, their parent company) and then to Marko himself.  And not just because Marko was perceived to be an Obama-supporter, but because commenters decided that the publication of this book and his explanation of the back story reveals how he is greedy, a whiner and/or a universalist.

There are definitely well-reasoned, thoughtful disagreements included in the comments but, as is usually the case, the shrieking voices stand out the most.

Again, I agree with Eugene.  We, as the body of Christ, need to kiss and make up.

Neither party has a monopoly on morality and certainly, not on Jesus.  Jesus has you.

A movement of love, grace, compassion, gentleness and humility probably won’t get the same kind of attention or headlines as all the arm-waving and screaming, but it just might reflect and reveal the heart of God to a broken world.

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