For numerous years, and since I was little, I’ve attended Spring Harvest – a Christian holiday held at various Butlins’ sites around Easter. This year was no exception and in anticipation for what was to come, we packed up our car and headed off. This year the theme was ‘One for all’, and I was struck repeatedly with how appropriate and how challenging this topic was. How on earth do we remain united when we come from such different backgrounds, have such different points of view and different ideas of life? Good question! It’s easy misconceive that unity means no differences, but this week away confirmed to me that unity is being able to be different yet still stand shoulder to shoulder. It was incredibly moving to worship alongside thousands of other Christians, all from different denominations, backgrounds, ages, cultures and genders, yet be united in the love of God and the desire to worship him. Our differences weren’t the focus, it was the love of Jesus that brought us together and helped us put any opposing opinions aside and stand together.
One of the things I found helpful through our week was being challenged and encouraged on how to disagree well, and this was modeled by session leaders. It’s not about shying away from conflicting opinions and attitudes, or sweeping things under the carpet, but learning how to effectively tackle these and walk forward. As Christians we are called to be a light to the world by being an example of God’s love by our unity. Sadly the church as a whole is often in the headlines because of the epic disagreements and the way it tears itself apart. The focus is often on what divides and not on what unites. The message I related to was this: ‘Love first, disagree well second’. When we get fixated on winning the point, on being right, or it’s my way or the highway, we stop seeing other people as humans but as enemies to defeat. I felt really challenged to go into situations with an attitude and heart that is willing to change where and when needed and to remember to love first.
When my husband texted me a couple of weeks ago that a snap election had just been announced, my heart sank and I hoped he was joking. The reason I felt this way was because I didn’t think I could stomach another election if it was anything like the last few. I can’t stand people attacking one another personally, backstabbing and slinging mud. I want people to get me interested and wanting to vote for their policies, their passions and their visions, not their ability to manipulate and slander.
One of the things that broke my heart after the last General Election and Brexit was the tabloid and social media bloodbath – the way people were so malicious to one another, denouncing them as stupid or pathetic because they didn’t vote for their way. People were written off because they had different opinions. I know of families who had rifts because they were on opposite sides and it tore them apart.
When things don’t go the way we hope it will or the world feels like it is spinning out of control and it feels scary and uncertain let us remember we need to trust ultimately in our God and not in man. Jesus said we will have difficulties in this world. We need to rely on Him, keep keeping our eyes fixed on Him and live with integrity and grace.
No matter whoever gets elected into power, they are human and will get some things right but also make many mistakes. Let us not put people on pedestals but as Christians be dedicated to pray for our leaders and seek ways to build them up and not smash them into the ground.
So enough is enough, in this General Election let us be people who walk differently. People that lead with integrity, for whom loving and respecting one another is more important than winning a point, people that listen first and who are able to disagree well. People who can maintain unity even when on differing sides of an argument, who can be gracious in defeat and humble in victory, people ready to grow and change where required and people who pray for those in leadership no matter what side they are on.
I know this is something I can only achieve through Gods strength, through being willing to change and grow and to see through his eyes of love. I pray God would bless you and strengthen you in all you do.