This has been a hard year for decency, grace, mercy, and sanity. Ugliness has filled headlines. Foulness has filled hearts and spilled over out of mouths. Is this our inheritance to future generations? Are we willing to leave behind a world full of hate, bigotry, individualism, poverty of the soul? Are we willing to put our own interests ahead of being interested in the bigger picture? I was disheartened that the answer would remain a solid yes, that is, until last night. Love and decency won an election here in America. It may have been just one state’s election, but the country’s heart and soul needed this win.
Last night, the good people of Alabama (minus that firm 81% of white evangelical voters), decided they were going to come out in droves and vote against status quo for their state. They didn’t just cast out their votes. They cast out fear with love. I say fear because that’s what you’ll find at the root of hate, racism, sexism, and bigotry.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:18 (ESV)
Love won last night. Where there is love, you’ll not find fear. True and perfect love fears not. They just cannot go together. Like fire and water, they cannot co-exist. Either the fire will evaporate the water, or the water will put the fire out. One or the other will eventually win the battle.
Yesterday’s election reminded me of this. Here you had a man whose ideology is built upon fear. Fear of change, fear of people of color, fear of losing patriarchy, fear of other’s sexual orientation, and fear of people who do not believe like him. This is probably something he has inherited. Fear-based religion is passed down from generation to generation. Hate and evil are learned traits. We are all made for grace and freedom from fear of one another.
On the other hand, you had a man who worked fearlessly against the KKK and convicted two of the remaining killers from the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. This was a man who campaigned for the people and chose not to use fear as a propaganda tool. He was focused on healing, justice, and hope; all attributes of good and perfect love. Inherited grace. It’s in our spiritual DNA. It’s what we were created for. I know what you might be thinking. Perfection in a man? I’m sure this man is far from perfection. This is not what I’m implying. Humans cannot be perfect, but love can be.
How we choose to treat each others and the planet will have its effects. This will be what future generations and future creations will inherit from us. So we must cast our vote, as well. Will we vote for fear? Or will we vote for love?
A vote for fear includes greed. Fearing poverty feeds greed and will result in more land massacre for resources like oil and coal, over fishing our rivers and oceans, keeping the corporate greed alive, and impoverishing the already impoverished. Fear includes war mongering. We fear the others around us that are different. Bomb them, ban them, because all Muslims are terrorists according to fear. Fear includes hate for people in the marginalized areas of society. Systemic racism and patriarchy keep the powers at be privileged, and they are afraid of equality because it’s their table and they fear losing table space. They feast and cannot afford to lose room for their gluttony. Fear includes locking out those with a different sexual orientation. They fear them because they’ve been taught to. They fear them because they’ve never taken the time to see them beyond their label and circumstances. While fear may keep what seems evil out, fear also blocks true and perfect love from our hearts. Therefore, we cannot give grace as we cannot receive it freely, either.
A vote for love is a vote for a future worth leaving to our children and beyond. Love is found in the depths of humanity. Love says, “I see you as a beloved child of God, a contributor to the universe and I need you. Flaws and all. I need you.” Love is finding agreement in the opposite. Grace tethers us to one another, yet gives us freedom from fear. Love seeks dignity, mercy, grace, equality, and makes room at the feast. Love’s table seats everyone and has plenty of elbow room. Love denies gluttony and greed. Love is the light that casts out all fear. Love is understanding that creation gives us many ways to turn the lights on and start our cars, because Divine Love created a planet with renewable energies and told us to be stewards of this earth. Love is restorative justice. Love is bridge that needs no walls. Love is truth. Love is the only acceptable inheritance for the future generations to receive from us.
Love or fear. What is it going to be?