What Israel Taught Me About America’s Election

What Israel Taught Me About America’s Election

The most hyped election in recent memory happens tomorrow. I won’t be in the country for it.

I’ve spent the last week in Israel in the posture of a listener. Listening to the narratives of Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Trying to consider solutions between a hundred-year conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. It’s tempting to believe that just one narrative has validity. To believe that the solution emerges without ambiguity. And yet conversation after conversation I’m reminded that despite how much we crave this, any critical thinker will resist the urge for this easy way out.

A couple of nights ago we had a Sabbath dinner with a Jewish family. The dad is a law professor, and his wife is working on her post-doctorate. It was moving to watch the way they intentionally raise their kids to understand the Bible (in particular the Old Testament) and the relevance in which he discussed current events in both Israel and America. He commented to us that America is beginning to look like Israel, and “not in a good way.”

If you’ve spent any amount of time understanding the conflict in the Holy Land, you will see how shocking that statement sounds. It’s a reminder that if division isn’t checked, we end up in a never-ending cycle downward. Which tragically tends to end in violence.

And yet, I see hope in it. As I’ve processed the varied perspectives on this trip, I’ve met two kinds of people. Those who cling to one narrative and one solution and expect everyone else to see it their way. If others won’t, or can’t, they become “the other” to work against. And I’ve also met people who see things a certain way and believe passionately about it but do it with a nod to others who differ from them. These are the people I’d put my money on to be the ones to help this area of the world move forward.

Which brings us back to home. Which type of person are you?

I feel passionate about this election, far more than previous elections. And despite what you might think from my recent post (see: An Appeal to Christians Who Support Trump) and my response to the reaction from it (see: 10 Observations After Writing about Donald Trump), I’ve tried to share a bit of my perspective in hope that it might help others. Some of my worst critics have accused me of dividing the church. However, as another person noted, it is perhaps more accurate to say I’ve exposed a division in the church over this election.

Here’s the point: after tomorrow there will be a group of Christians that are very concerned and a group of Christians that will breathe a sigh of relief. I don’t know which group will be which yet. But the point is not whether we think we won or lost this election, but how we live out our faith in the midst of a troubled culture among others who see it differently than us.

Can we love them? Can we show grace to those who voted opposite to us? Can we realize our faith causes us to live as foreigners in this nation no matter who sits in the White House (see: Is It Possible to be Hopeful Right Now)? Are we willing to repent of the ways our discussion over this election has looked radically opposite to Christ? Hillary Clinton is not the hope of the world, nor is Donald Trump. The hope of the world is Jesus Christ as revealed through the Church. Let’s focus on being a healthy part of that. That applies to both Israel and America.

I wonder if the best thing we could do is take the time to lovingly listen to someone who voted different than us and learn to understand them as we move forward? It’s hard to love someone you don’t understand. It’s also hard to understand someone you don’t love.

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan. Husband to Michelle and father to Gavin, Madsen, Adelyn, Aiden, and Abel. Author of Redeeming Pleasure and Lead Pastor at Abundant Life Church in Portland.

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