Third in a Series on Why to Join a Small Group
The recent election led me to reflect on the odd reality that my Christian small group, my most intimate friend group, is full of people on the other side of the political fence from me. How can this be?
Two reasons, I think. One is the reality that all of us know God is bigger than the USA, Jesus is more important than any other affiliation, and our unifying task is to follow Jesus and serve people his way. We rally around one big story, and one guidebook we’ve come to believe is ultimately reliable. The guidebook sees love at the center of everything, so there’s that.
The second reason is that there’s a magic that happens when people commit to meeting regularly and helping each other grow. As long as we agree on some norms that give structure and protect each other from our innate selfishness, it works really well. You can go as diverse as you like. Mix up ages, races, and walks of life. Welcome people with strange ways of speaking, weird clothes, or different political convictions.
I’ll go into more detail on group norms next post, but suffice to say, we work on listening well, we keep our tones respectful and we choose to love. Here’s the beginning of a conversation I had with one of the other members of our small group:
Me: I think most of the people in our small group voted differently than me.
Friend: I think you’re right.
Only read this paragraph if you last voted Democrat: It became clear to me as we talked that my friend was utterly misinformed, deceived by the misinformation spewed by ultra-right news sources.
Only read this paragraph if you last voted Republican: It became clear to my friend as we talked that I was utterly misinformed, deceived by the misinformation spewed by liberal news sources.
All resume reading: How could such a longtime friend, such a sensible, loving person, buy into this craziness? How could they be trusted with family secrets and be called on for help at a moment’s notice and yet buy into a belief system that was :
- Eroding the pillars of democracy?
- Destroying the nation?
- Making a mockery of biblical truth?
It was unsettling. Nevertheless, we kept listening to each other without interrupting. We surrendered the need to convince the other to snap out of their delusions. We spoke out of our decisions to choose love over political outrage, and stay connected.
And that’s what we keep doing, week after week, year after year. That’s how, in these barbaric times, you hold together a small group. That’s how you hold together a church. That’s how you hold together a nation.
Question for Reflection: When did you last have a respectful, productive, political discussion with someone who voted differently than you?