Passing the Peace: How to Survive a Divisive Election Season

If we are more engaged in political discourse than biblical discipleship, we are sitting at the feet of the wrong master.

5 minutes

Aug 31, 2023

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I’m old enough to have participated in 6 presidential election cycles now, and the polarization we experience gets worse with every election. Billions of dollars are spent each election cycle to persuade voters one way or another. More often than not, these ads and messages take the form of emotional manipulation—stoking our fear and anger. On top of that, for the first time in our country, we are not only following a heated presidential campaign, but a series of trials for a former president and current presidential candidate as well.

I am not looking forward to the media narratives in 2024.

But we don’t just see it on our screens—the pervasiveness of our country’s partisanship has also grown to invade our friendships, our communities, and our congregations. We are too quick to label, too quick to judge, too quick to isolate ourselves from those who hold opinions that differ from our own.

What can we do as the people of God?
How can we, as the people of God, pursue unity in the midst of political division? How can we engage this election year differently? How can we protect our communities, congregations, and friendships from further division and discord?

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

Philippians 2:1-5 (NIV)

The Apostle Paul’s exhortation to unity is centered on Christ—not on political or economic philosophy, or shared views on race and class, or even denominational commonalities. This passage from Philippians outlines for us what Christian unity looks like in practice—the methodology of unity is to love others with the sacrificial love of Jesus. Brothers and sisters in Christ, unity is a manifestation of spiritual maturity in community.

Therefore, we must be on guard about where we receive our discipleship! If we are more engaged in political discourse than biblical discipleship, we are sitting at the feet of the wrong master. Especially as we approach this year’s election season, we must ground our thoughts and practices in the prayers, words, and ways of Jesus.

Unity is a manifestation of spiritual maturity in community. - David M. Baley

A two-pronged approach

I invite you to a two-pronged approach in holding to unity by engaging the mind of Christ.

Our friends at Church of the City did an all-church media fast this year and came away with tremendous testimonies of how God renewed their minds as a community. Check out this resource and plan for a media fast (or two or three!) to create a space of listening for God’s voice.

Perhaps an even more critical practice for having the same mindset of Christ Jesus is immersion in God’s Word. With that in mind, Arrabon will release an updated version of our “A People, a Place, and a Just Society” study series in October. The study digs deeply into Scripture to understand God’s heart for shalom, justice, and reconciliation. My hope is that the study will help communities grow in wisdom, discernment, and empathy while being equipped to engage divisive topics on the unifying foundation of Scripture. More on this new resource soon!

The 2024 election season will undoubtedly bring upheaval to our public and private discourse. As Christ-followers, we have a solid rock on which to build our hope and our unity. I am eager to hear how God uses you and your community to be uncommon peacemakers in a world torn apart by division.

Written by David M. Bailey and originally published in Arrabon’s email newsletter “Passing the Peace” on August 31, 2023.  Sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page.

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