Getting to Know You

Wow, how did that happen? The president was reelected, and relatively easily, at that. And a lot of people were sure it couldn’t happen, either because their fellow citizens would finally see the light and vote for Mitt Romney, or because God would intervene on behalf of America, if not for the sake of the world as a whole. Didn’t work out that way.

I’m not a political analyst, but I suspect many undecided voters, or voters who were only tentatively on the side of Mr. Romney, decided that the known was better than the unknown when it came time to touch the screen. We didn’t really know what to expect from a Romney administration, especially by way of tax policy; and even if we didn’t like Pres. Obama, at least we knew what to expect. It’s something rather short of the mandate the victorious party unfailingly claims. Be that as it may, conservative Christians in great numbers have fallen into the trap of investing their political capital into a failed endeavor; along with it they have used up much of the apocalyptic language available, deeming this the most important, crucial, defining, etc., election in our national history. Just how would we know that, anyway? And what happens now that it has been lost? Is Armageddon inevitable?

Perhaps I exaggerate just a bit–but not much (remember, I read facebook posts). Many are left to wonder who in their right minds would vote for Mr. Obama. And maybe that wondering reveals a couple of things about the wonderers. First, it reveals that many of them travel and discuss things within a very narrow circle of like-minded people, leading to the conclusion that they are among the majority who think rightly (no pun intended) about things. Related to whom we do know and with whom we do not associate comes the other tendency we have in evangelicalism–we don’t know our neighbors.

We tend to forget that it is not some foreign power or alien race that has elected a president for a second term; it is our neighbors, co-workers, fellow citizens. And if we are wondering what they were thinking when they did so, maybe we should do the novel thing and ask them. The fact is that if we are willing to actually listen to them rather than to immediately refute their ideas we might make significant progress in getting to know them. We might hear their hearts, their hurts, their dreams, aspirations, misgivings, fears, anxieties, etc. And as we do we might give them enough of an open door to continue talking and then, only then, listening to an answer we might suggest. That, of course, is not a political answer at all.

May I suggest that Christians of all stripes vow to spend the next four years not in identifying the next crusader for conservatism, but in getting to know the people with whom we share this country, this state, our neighborhood? And it wouldn’t hurt a bit to offer to pray for the ones we begin listening to as well. That would give much more credence to the calls for prayer for the president we–the nation–have elected.