After years of pastoral ministry, it’s crazy to think how the one quote that always makes its way to my mind in conversations is from Mark Twain: 

“It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts I do understand.”

For the past few years, it hasn't been a study of the mysteries of God or the doctrines of salvation that have shook me to the core, but instead the chapter in Scripture we somehow relegated to wedding ceremonies—1 Corinthians 13. 

This hallmark passage begins with a clear announcement that the good deeds we love to hang our hats on are all but worthless—no matter how viral they may go—if they are not rooted in love. Then, to make sure we aren’t left to wonder what God means by “love”, Paul goes on in verses 4-7 to give us a very concise definition: 

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

With this foundation, and then a note about our inability to see and know all things on this side of the veil, Paul ends the chapter with verse 13: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

It’s been here—face-to-face with what (as Twain notoriously said) “I do understand” from the Bible—that Christianity has become simple and quite clear to me. The life in Christ that we have been given is a life of “faith, hope, and love.” With or without our participation, “these things abide.” But as easily understandable as that may be, my life often declares a Christianity marked by anything but “faith, hope, and love.”  

And from what I can tell going into and coming out of our recent election, I’m not alone.

I hear Christians rejoice in the Gospel, thanking God that “by grace” we have been brought into table fellowship with Him “through faith.” (Eph 2:8) I see us reminding each other of this, and to look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor 4:18) 

So then why, when the things we can see like the progress or lack thereof in our current world of politics and politicians, are we either freshly invigorated or crushed with despair? Is our faith not to be in what is “seen,” but instead in Him who is “unseen”? 

As followers of Jesus I see where we cling to the truths of God’s sovereignty and the promises of a day coming where all that has been made right in the cross of Christ, will be seen and felt here as it is in heaven. One day, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:4) 

So why then, especially at times like this, are the voices that once shared this coming hope being drowned out with either frustrations or false-hopes as if political parties have any play on God’s kingdom? Can we not, as Christians, advocate for what is good and be a voice of hope that points people to that which is best? 

As disciples of Christ we exist, whether we believe it or not, as one in the resurrected Christ. (Col 3) There is, “one body and one Spirit… one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” And we are to, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph 4) We are to “maintain the unity” it says, because it is our love for one another -- not our wit, our charisma, or our fleeting wisdom -- but our love for one another Jesus said that’s the greatest apologetic of His Lordship to a watching world! (Jn 17)

So, then why, in the days of this election, does it seem that in place of loving one another, the candidates running for office, and the world around us, do we act impatiently and unkindly to those whose opinions differ from us, keeping records of every wrong as those who are unforgiving and unenduring? Is not our frustration and fight with others, and sometimes even with God, because in place of love we “insist on our own way”? (1 Cor 13) 

Whichever side you took in this election, as disciples of Jesus you were never standing independently of your brothers and sisters in Christ. You may be angry at the results and other members of the Bride, or you may be delighted in them both. But at no time should our faith—which is to be in an eternal Person who is unseen—be hindered or unhindered by the temporary things we can see. At no time should our voice of hope shrink or shout because of the failures or feats found in those who operate a fleeting office. At no time, should our love for one another be shared or withheld because of what someone else does or doesn’t do, or because of what they believe or don’t believe. 

For me, there was never any potential for a win in this election. And maybe that’s the message our gracious Lord longs for us to hear. After all, it’s never the self-proclaimed winners in the parables who recognized their death and found a life of faith, hope, and love that goes beyond themselves. Just the losers.

Russ Johnson