This Sunday, Pastor Donnell completed the sermon series on God, Jesus, Politics, Race and You. He encouraged the church to maintain connections with fellow Christians despite our differences in political persuasion. While maintaining our connections with our Christian brothers and sisters, he encouraged us to look beneath sound-bites and simple answers to complex issues and see if there was some agreement on what might called more core principles despite differences on how those principles might play out in specific political actions.
One back-drop to Pastor Donnell’s message was something Jesus said to his disciples at the last supper:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34–35
Pastor Donnell also used a couple of verses from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans.
“Accept him whose faith is weak without passing judgment on disputable matters” (Romans 14:1)
“You, then, why do you judge your brother?” (Romans 14: 10) “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another” (Romans 14:13)
Here, Saint Paul is speaking about differences Christians in Rome had when it came to what food was acceptable to eat and how important it was to religiously celebrate certain days (e.g., holidays which comes from holy days). The “weak” were those who had more rules against eating certain food and believed that it was important to celebrate certain days in specific ways (fasting, celebrating, etc.). The “strong” took the opposite tact. Saint Paul is encouraging the strong not to judge the weak because of their scruples.
Today, for our meditation prayer, I suggest that you combine Jesus’ words from the gospel of John with those of St. Paul in his letter to the Romans. As you begin to pray, invite God to join with you in your prayer. Consider the nation’s current political season. How do you feel about people who support a candidate which you do not? How do feel about Christians in particular who have political views which are basically the opposite of your own? Imagine having a conversation with one of these brothers or sisters about politics. Imagine what they might say? How do you feel? Are you looking forward to the conversation or dreading it? Would your first response be to ask a clarifying question, ask how they could possibly hold that position, or tell them what you think really needs to happen to address the issue at hand? Now read the passages from the gospel of John and Paul’s Letter to the Romans slowly. Do you think that they apply to the Christian with whom you have a disagreement? Do you wish Jesus or Paul hadn’t said what they said, or think that they couldn’t have imagined the divide which the church finds itself in? Are you angry, sad, confused, frustrated? Sit for a minute with your feelings in God’s presence. Share your feelings with God. How does God seem to you now? Does he care? Is he listening? You might ask God how He feels about the situation?
Has anyone in particular or a group of Christians in particular arisen in your mind during this time of prayer? If so, keep them in mind as you read the passages again. Read them slowly, imagining both these Christians and God in the room with you. How might God mediate your relationships? What would be most important to Him? Can you imagine yourself letting be led to a better relationship with these Christian?
Read the passages one last time, this time very slowly, pausing after words which seem to be very significant to you. Share your feelings with God. You might thank him for his continued love of you and your brothers and sisters. Consider how your relationship with God could be stronger. Write down any significant feelings or thoughts from your time of prayer.
Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.