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We’ve entered a sad time.  I’m not just talking about the supposed choice of two very lacking candidates for office.   We’ve entered a time when we are openly angry, fearful, disrespectful and outraged at each other.  We’ve entered a time of us vs. them within our own society.  We’ve entered a time when we rationalize away pleasantness and respect because our opponents are enemies or worse.  I can’t tell you how many social media posts, bumper sticker, and conversations I have heard or seen where people are so openly disrespectful to one another – all in the name of being right.

Christians fighting over partisan politics – what happened to Christianity being our foundation?  Is partisan politics more important and a more important part of our identity than Christ?  Why would we trade in God for partisan politics?  So we can feel justified and right and righteous and better than those poor saps who are too stupid to know any better?  Are we turning into Pharisees?

Americans fighting over who will rule over them – Is party and candidate support more important and a more important part of our identity than country?  How long can a house divided last?  How long until we feel that rhetoric isn’t effective and we turn to something more “effective” to get our way?

People are pissed off at one another over so much – race, sexuality, government programs, campaigns, etc.  We’re so concerned with who has the right beliefs that we are willing to fight with ourselves over everything.  How long until we start offering damnation again?

This is not healthy.  As Christians, this is not what we are called to or who we are called to be.  We aren’t called to be right.  We aren’t called to point out the speck in our neighbor’s eye.  We aren’t called to rip apart another Christian or anyone else for that matter because their beliefs and opinions don’t line up with our own.  We are called to make disciples.  We are called to serve.  We are called to live out our beliefs, not hit others over the head with them.

We are called to lay anger and fear aside.  We are called to act like adults, not children fighting in a sand box.  Frankly, I’m tired of the ranting and the temper tantrums that I hear and see.  Enough already.  Enough.  Aren’t you tired of the anger that is seething from so many people and into your own life?   Aren’t you tired of being angry and offended?  Aren’t you tired of living in fear of other people?  Aren’t you tired of tearing down those who disagree with you?  Aren’t you tired of demonizing and insulting others who don’t see the world the way you do?  Aren’t you tired of always showing just how right you think you are?

I’m tired of it.  Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.  This constant fighting and bickering and always having to be right was the reason I left partisan politics as a career.  It drains the life out of you.

And yet it seems like there is no escape – it is like a black hole that sucks everything and everyone into its gravitational pull of fear and anger.  Enough already.

For the love of God, please stop.  For the love of country, please stop.  Instead of focusing on how wrong and bad and evil people who are not like you are, can we just for a moment to see their humanity?  Can we look past their beliefs to see them as a person?  Can we look past their skin color to see that they have the same anatomy as you?  Can we look past their sexuality to see that they too are children of God and part of creation?  Can we look past their politics to see that they are passionate because they care about the country just like you do and want to see the country do well, just like you do?  Can we look past religious differences to see that we worship the same God?  Can we look past the label we give them?  Can we?  Please?  I’m begging you.  For my own sanity and for everyone’s safety.  Where we are headed is not a good place to be.  Don’t blame it on God if we go there.  It’s our own sin of ego that will take us there.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  We have the freedom to choose how we live and how we respond.  We can respond with belittling and insult when we feel insulted and belittled, or we can do what we are called to do – turn the other cheek.  We can offer violent rhetoric in response to violent rhetoric, or we can do what we are called to do – offer love and forgiveness and grace.  We can prove just how right we think we are, or we can show what we believe in how we live our lives and act towards others.

Believe me, it feels justified to respond to an insult and supposed attack by striking back.  It feels good.  It may even feel right at the time.  We were attacked after all – we have every right to respond in kind.  We have to defend ourselves.

But when does it end?  How can we expect the Kingdom of God to come if we remove ourselves from it or are actively blocking the Kingdom from coming?  How can we expect peace to come when we aren’t willing to take the first step and be the peacemaker?  How can we expect respect and love when we aren’t willing to be the ones to first offer respect and love to our enemies?

Jesus didn’t say love the people who love you.  He said to love your enemies.  This isn’t easy.  Following Christ isn’t easy – it’s really inconvenient to what we’d rather do.  Now would be a good time to start following Jesus command though.  Our enemies aren’t somewhere out there, somewhere in a foreign land who worship differently and speak a different language.  We have enemies right here in our own country – at least that is how we treat our fellow citizens.  Why don’t we start right here and right now?  Why don’t we start with the people who are supporting a different candidate for office?  Why don’t we start with people who practice a different religion, use a different language, have a different sexuality, are different than ourselves?

Why are we waiting for someone else to be the first to offer grace, love and forgiveness?  Do we think Jesus was talking to someone else?  Why not be the one who starts?  Why not be the one who takes Christ’s command seriously as if it were directed to you?  Yes you!  Why not be the one who actually puts their beliefs into action and shows people how transformative those beliefs truly are?

Or are you afraid of something?  Afraid that your beliefs are just hollow thoughts?  Are you afraid of losing control of your life?  Are you afraid that your life will be changed?  Here’s a hint – when you follow Christ, you do lose control of your life and your life will be changed.  Guaranteed.

We have a choice – We can live in fear and anger and be in control, or we can take a leap of faith, be out of control and live out the beliefs that we claim to hold dear and see how the world is transformed by Jesus.  What will it be?  It’s time to put up or shut up.