Well, that was interesting. I’ve never witnessed a State of the Union address quite like that. A president failed (or flatly refused) to shake the hand of the Speaker of House. Whether you believe it was on purpose or not depends on your particular political leanings.
There was no ambiguity to the Speaker’s actions, however. As the President of the United States finished his speech, she tore it up in front of Congress and a flabbergasted nation.
The actions of our leaders on February 4, 2020, revealed more clearly the state of our Union than any words spoken by the president that night. The divide in our nation is more bitter and visceral than just about any other period in our history, save the Civil War.
The problem, however, is not that we disagree.
The problem is how we disagree.
They say there are two topics which you should always avoid at parties: religion and politics. The reason is simple. They generally end in arguments. Both topics reveal our deepest held values. When others disagree with those values or challenge them, we feel our belief system being attacked. We feel we the need to defend what we consider to be absolute truth.
Disagreeing about politics and religion is nothing new. Arguing about politics and religion is nothing new. But our country and culture have taken them to a whole new level. In days gone by, politicians at least attempted to show a semblance of statesmanship and decorum.
If the State of the Union was any indicator, decorum is now a thing of the past.
I honestly have no platform or opportunity to change or even influence the behavior of the leaders of our country, though I pray for them often.
I do, however, have this platform to speak to you, dear reader.
If we are going to fix America’s crisis of contempt, it begins with individuals. Dare I say, it begins with us as Christians. We have Jesus’ command to love our enemies. God wants us to forgive as he has forgiven us. Jesus wants me to love even the worst of sinners as much as he has loved me (the worst of sinners).
Love does not mean we need to agree. Love does not mean we should remain silent. Love speaks, but it does so respectfully. It does so humbly. Love leads us to not respond in kind when someone refuses to shake our hand or rips up our speech. Love leads us to not judge other people’s motives or hearts simply because they disagree with us politically.
The majority of liberals in our country are not stupid, weak Communists who are out to rob us of our freedoms. The majority of conservatives are not racist, gun-toting Nazis who have succumb to the ravings of a lunatic.
We are Americans who disagree on how best to protect and provide for our nation. The differences are important. We should discuss them. We should feel passionate about them.
But look into your heart. Have you let contempt and condescension sneak in? Read carefully what you post and share on Facebook. Remember, it’s not always what you say. It’s how you say it.
Especially be aware of how you respond when others lash out against you. Consider how Jesus responded as they slapped him, spit on him and nailed him to a piece of wood. He forgave them. He loved them. He died for them.
Contempt has no place in the heart of a Christian.