I had lunch on Saturday with one of my best friends. She is a #firegirl and a Jesus-follower to the bone. She tells me the truth, makes me laugh and I love her for it.
She also voted for Trump - albeit reluctantly.
Perhaps if we had less courage, we would have spoken of everything but executive orders, walls and refugees detained at the airport. But we love each other and, perhaps like you, we want to act like Jesus in our new political climate. We just don't know how.
As we talked, my sweet friend paid me a high compliment.
"I know you believe differently than I do," she said. " But thank you for making this a safe place to talk about it."
In case you're wondering, I am appalled by Donald Trump and nearly everything he stands for. If that makes you want to stop reading, I challenge you to stay. If last week showed us anything, it is that the days of taking our toys and going home, are over. Responding like petulant children to things we don't like, only makes us weaker and our circles of influence smaller. At this rate, none of us will have anybody left to block on Facebook.
We have to do this better. Smarter. More courageously.
As we were talking, I said something that made us both laugh.
"You know, Jesus didn't say you'll know my followers by their opinions. So in that spirit, I'm going to make a list of things that don't matter. Number one is your opinion. Number Two is my opinion."
"Yah," she added. "And until I figure all this out, I'm not gonna do nothing stupid."
Followers of Jesus are commanded to love God with everything, and love others as themselves. We are instructed to respect our leaders and pray for them. We are required to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger.
But Jesus clearly said the most important laws are to love God and love others. All other laws are subordinate. Therefore, if I claim to follow Jesus, love is the only measure of how well I am doing it. As he said, a tree is known by its fruit.
So rather than shout my opinion all the time and alienate everyone around me, maybe I'll try some other strategies. Here are five:
One - I can march and resist in love and civil disobedience. It's not like we have no model for that. Dr. King showed us how.
Two - I can courageously invite hard conversations, live and in-person, with the intent to understand the speaker, not persuade him. That's hard-core.
Three - I can listen to people without interrupting them. I can hold space for them and hope they do the same for me, but if not, I can listen as an act of love.
Four - I can pray for President Trump without agenda, the same way I want people to pray for me. It's not about him, it's about me and my obedience to Jesus. But I happen to believe it is supernaturally effective.
Five - I can advocate, speaking up for those who have no voice. Even if I have to do it loudly. Jesus wasn't always carrying lambs and hugging kids. Sometimes he was kicking over tables in the Temple. I'll leave the table-kicking to Jesus, (I think) but I will speak truth to power, as he leads me. I will also pester my Congressman. Did you know there's an app for that?
What I can't do is vilify. I can't call Trump hateful things. I can't even think them - because as a man thinks in his heart so is he. If I want to love God and love others, then it must begin in my own mind, and it ain't no part time job.
To me, love in America 2017 is neither quiet acquiescence nor angry vitriol. The road I must walk isn't even found in the middle. It's an entirely different place that Jesus called the narrow path.
In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the Law and the prophets. Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it. - Jesus Matthew 7:12-14
One other thing. You may catch me at a weak moment, being hysterical and vitriolic and think "Nice fruit Erin. See Christians are such hypocrites," and you'd be right.
Christians are hypocrites, so are Jews and Buddhists and bicycle messengers and vegans and people who call themselves "spiritual not religious." Everyone seeks their own interest. Everyone has a gap between the values they aspire to and the ones they live. That's what Jesus was doing here - redeeming all that. It's why he showed us where the narrow path is and how to walk on it.
This my friends, is practice.