Resolutions might be short-lived, so I’m suggesting three spiritual practices that assume there’s grace when we mess up. What’s not new about 2023 is that political and theological divides continue and all of us are worse for it. And so, in the spirit of fresh starts, here are three spiritual practices I’m trying for the New Year and I hope you’ll join me.
- Stop lumping people together as if everything is binary. There are more than two political perspectives (conservative and liberal.) There are more than two theological perspectives (conservative and liberal.) There are more than two ways to raise children (the right way and the wrong way), consume global news (my cable and your cable), and eat healthy (all the meat, no meat. ) It’s lazy to lump all ____ in a single lot as in: “Democrats care less about stranded passengers than they do about gaining more federal control over the airline industry.” WSJ op-ed 12-28-22 or “The Republicans chose to (back Trump) because they wanted power.” (NYT op-ed 12-3-22) I know. I know. You intellectually believe that it’s actually true that all Democrats are about federal control or all Republicans are about gaining power. I’m not sure it’s true for all Democrats or Republicans. Power is everybody’s god.
- Stop saying “I absolutely hate ___” as in “I hate Nancy Pelosi” or “I hate Donald Trump” or “I hate evangelical Republicans” or “I hate godless Democrats.” I have friends and family members who routinely say these words in spite of their Christian identity. What God hates is performative faithfulness.
- Stop writing people off. I get that it’s healthy to steer clear of anyone who has abused us or threatened us. Don’t get even. Get therapy. And yet if someone appears to be everything we disagree with, it doesn’t mean they are the embodiment of everything we disagree with.The beauty part of being in politically, socio-economically diverse church is that we are literally in a community of people with whom we would never be friends without that church connection.
So here’s the kicker: if you are part of a church that lumps people together, that spews hate towards certain humans, that writes people off . . . maybe you need a new church in 2023. Jesus was the living manifestation of a faith that sees people as individual children of God, that calls followers to pray for our enemies, that offers grace to the most unlikely candidates.
Let’s be more like Jesus in 2023.
Image from The St. John’s Bible illustrated by Donald Jackson (completed in 2011)