Now and then I still hear conversations where well intended people identify a particular political party or another as “the Christian party.” One of the challenges we have as a congregation of “thoughtful faith” is to help people remember that every human organization is both imperfect and fallible, and that no political party has a monopoly on a “Christian response” to everything.

This election year has produced, as we all know, the most intense and negative polarization in a long time, with rhetoric and behavior that has exceeded low standards of civility and respect. Having a different point of view from a neighbor has at times become an opportunity to attack the person themselves, and to question the character of anyone with whom we do not agree. How sad.

Jesus Christ worked in an enslaved and very imperfect world, relating to a diversity of people. He ate with Pharisees, invited publicans to his circle of relationships, now and then blessed a scribe, and spent most of his time with sinners and wounded people—even those who betrayed him. His harshest words were to those who abused others, and who thought of themselves as superior to folks around them.

As believers living in a contentious atmosphere, I sense that we have an opportunity to model the capacity to respect and value persons who differ with us in regard to perceptions of what is best for a country or a people. I hope we can identify our own prejudices, and challenge them. I wonder if we can refrain from demeaning another Christian who may genuinely see God’s will from a different perspective?  And, when we vote, I hope we are praying for God’s will through a set of very flawed, fallible, and sometimes selfish political parties, who, at the same time, invite us through an imperfect system, as Christ dealt with, to work for the purposes of God on earth?