Dwight Yoo, who is the pastor of Renewal Presbyterian Church in West Philadelphia, where my family worships, addressed his congregation with the following words on November 13th, the Sunday after the 2016 presidential election. After the election, many acts of hate crimes have been reported around the country, apparently inspired by the victory of Donald J. Trump, and the nearby University of Pennsylvania (where many of the congregants are students) also became a target.
I asked Dwight for his permission to share his words with a larger audience, and he graciously gave it, so I am pleased to pass them on to you.
How to Respond to Election Fears
This election has revealed the deep divisions, fears, frustrations, anger and even hatred that exist among the citizens of our country.
Some of us may be struggling with fear for where this nation is headed, and perhaps fear for your own personal safety—especially for those of us who are minorities as we continue to hear about acts of aggression and violence towards minority groups. You may be angered by some in this country who seem to desire a version of America that doesn’t include many of us in this room.
First, I’d like to encourage you to bring all of those emotions before the Lord. As we see throughout the Psalms, he invites us to bring our raw and honest emotions to him in prayer. Acts of racism and violence against the innocent should anger us; there is such a thing as righteous anger. It’s what we see in God, precisely because he is good and he is just—he is angered by evil and injustice.
That being said, we are not God and so we must beware of the temptation to allow righteous anger to turn into sinful anger. Don’t fall into the trap of hypocrisy: Using hateful rhetoric to speak of those you accuse of using hateful rhetoric; to be one that stirs up hatred against those you accuse of stirring up hatred; to totally ignore and tune out the frustrations and hurt of one segment of America because you’re so mad about the segment you care about being tuned out and ignored.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” As Christians, we belong to Jesus, the light of the world and love incarnate.
Jesus loved and served those who hated him—and he calls his disciples to love and serve, not just those who share our views, but those who disagree with us and even those who hate us.
Regardless of who you may have voted for, what side you were on, the fact is we’re all in the same boat now—living in a country that is deeply divided, where many are hurt, and where many have lost hope.Jesus loved and served those who hated him. Click To Tweet
Be the Church
In this context lies a tremendous opportunity to be the Church. To be Christians, not as defined by pollsters or the media—a caricature of Christianity—but to put on display what it means to be a genuine follower of Christ.
To work for the peace and reconciliation that Christ brings, to show the mercy and love of Christ to those in need, the friendship of Christ to the outcast and stranger, to enter the shoes of the hurting as Christ did for us, and to demonstrate the humility and gentleness of Christ towards those who oppose us while speaking and acting for what is right.
As we see throughout Scripture, and ultimately demonstrated on the Cross, God often does his most beautiful and powerful work through the darkest and most painful situations. Don’t let the negativity surrounding the election lead you to miss out on the tremendous opportunities there are to display the power of Gospel—opportunities that have arisen precisely as a result of the pain our country is experiencing.Don’t let negativity lead you to miss out on the opportunities to display the power of Gospel Click To Tweet
Where Our Hope Comes From
Whether your candidate won or lost, the hope of the world does not rest upon the rulers of this world. It rests upon the One who made it, laid down His life for it, and rules and reigns over it–Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our hope is not hitched to a donkey or an elephant, but our hope rests upon the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah. He alone can, and will, usher in the world we all long for. Now is the time to share that hope in our words and in our deeds.Our hope is not hitched to a donkey or an elephant, but upon the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah. Click To Tweet
Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
So here is something we can do right now–spend time praying for the next administration, as Scripture calls us to do (1 Timothy 2); pray for our nation and its common good, as people whose true and ultimate citizenship lies in heaven.
Rev. Dwight Yoo, Head Pastor, Renewal Presbyterian Church