There are certain times in our lives that are built for reflection — birthdays, weddings, funerals, graduations.
Election times should bring about reflection as well. We often create an atmosphere of discontent, division, and anxious thoughts during election season.
Please be encouraged. It truly is possible during this time to set our hearts and minds on how blessed we are as individuals and as a nation so that we can walk forward in peace.
Many of us grew up with some sort of way to measure our physical growth. A chart on the wall, a yard stick, or pediatric growth charts.
If a child measures growth daily, that child will likely be discouraged at what appears to be very little growth. However, if growth is measured periodically, say once or twice a year, the results can be very exciting.
Are we evaluating our nation based on the high-velocity political waves that are currently tossing everyone around? Or do we choose to reflect upon how our nation started, how far we have come, and the amazing opportunity that we have to grow this nation further toward the values that are set before us in the Pledge of Allegiance: “One nation under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all”?
We are so blessed to have the opportunity in this comparatively young, democratic society to cast our vote and affect future generations for the better. But to move this country forward wisely, we must reflect inwardly as much as we reflect outwardly.
In the third chapter of 2nd Peter, the apostle Peter reflects upon the growth of the early church. He closes his letter with words of both caution and encouragement to his readers.
His caution is to wait patiently for the Lord, and to not get carried away with the words of those who miscommunicate the scriptures either out of ignorance or intent. Peter encourages his readers also to “live at peace” so as not to “lose your own stability.”
Then his final words of encouragement in verse 18 are these: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and in the day of eternity. Amen.”
How are we growing in grace and knowledge during this season? Are we seeking truth and wisdom for ourselves and our nation? Are we more conscious of God’s work in our lives than we were a year ago?
Are we better able to discuss differences of opinion peacefully than we were a year ago? Are we more flexible in how we respond to one another when we disagree? Do we more naturally turn to Jesus in prayer for guidance than we did a year ago? Or do we increasingly turn to Google before all else?
Are we more loving toward all of humanity than we were last year? Do we enjoy the presence of God in our lives more than we use to?
Are we growing inwardly with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Or are we consumed with increased frustration, fear, anxiety and anger?
Are we using this season to reflect and move forward, grounded in the knowledge of how truly blessed we are?
God continues to stretch us as a nation to move us more toward a people who reflect His highest commandment found in Matthew 22:34-40: “’Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
When Jesus says the second commandment is like the first, he makes the point that this commandment is equally important. We should never separate one from the other.
Moving forward, remember who you are, and how much you have grown. Reflect on where this nation has been and how far it has come.
We all still have a lot of growth to do, but in each coming season, each coming year, let us all be able to see the fruitfulness of continued growth in knowledge and grace.
Lauren Nelson is with Elevation Community Church in Blanchester.
This weekly column is provided to the News Journal by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.