Mark 9:38-41 (NRSV)
John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward."
As election season begins to heat up, it seems as if more and more of my friends are complaining about having to see political posts on Facebook from people they disagree with. "I just had to un-friend so and so," they lament, "I just couldn't stand to see any more of their posts." I won't say which side of the fence most of my friends are on, but I imagine the sentiment is true no matter to which political party you affiliate (or even if you affiliate with none!). Election season is a divisive time, a time when many of us are inclined to dig our heels into the ground and hold onto our views with tenacity as if our lives depended on it.
The problem with such election season tenacity is our tendency to pit ourselves against one another. Us vs. Them. Democrats vs. Republicans. Liberals vs. Conservatives. We spar against one another to the point that we can no longer recognize our common humanity and common ground; all we see is division and difference. As a pastor, however, I know that my congregation is made up of folks from every place on the spectrum, and to allow myself to think in such divisive terms holds a real danger that I start to conflict with certain members of the congregation — members who I have served with at the soup kitchen, members who I have prayed with during times of great loss, members who confess the same Lord in Jesus Christ as I do. The things that unite us are so much greater than the things that divide us.
Jesus reminds us in our text from Mark that whoever is not against us is for us. If we profess Jesus as our Lord, and if we strive to serve the God of love and grace, then we are to be united, even if we disagree sometimes. We are to see in one another — democrat or republican — the divine image of God. This election, I challenge us all to do just that.
Gracious God, may we always seek to be united with one another in the Body of Christ — across differences of race, class, gender, or political leanings. May we recognize in every person your divine image. Amen.