By Shewanda Riley
“Never put a question mark where God has put a period.” Years ago when I worked at a gospel radio station in San Antonio, we played a commercial for a funeral home that ended with this tagline. It made sense to me then and makes even more sense to me now as I’ve had to accept the sometimes painful reality of God ending seasons of my life. Often, my inquisitive nature gets the best of me, and I ask God for additional details when this happens. For me, the question mark is that there are now unanswered questions like “what if?” that seem to haunt me. In some cases, the “what if” questions taunt me since I always want clear answers. Sometimes the only clear answer is that the season is over. For others, the period is that we get our prayers answered and it’s time to shift to something else. Regardless of whether you get a question mark or a period, we ultimately have to acknowledge that God’s sovereign hand is in control of everything that happens.
As we head into what looks like another controversial election season, I’m thinking more about question marks and periods. It’s time out for posting things like “If you vote Democrat, you are not a real Christian” on social media. My first thought when I see this and other similar posts during an election year was that it was a troubling and weak Christian witness to label someone a non –Christian because of a difference in political opinion. In response to posts about all Democrats being tricked by Satan or all Republicans being brainwashed racists, one of my Facebook friends posted people were taking the election to a whole other level of spitefulness: “God is worried more about heavenly selection than earthly elections.” In other words, we should not spend more time posting on social media and arguing which candidate is the best than we do posting words of encouragement and offering the gift of Christ’s salvation to others.
Like so many of you, I’ve seen friendships and relationships get destroyed because of what was posted on social media about past elections. The crazy part is that in some cases, it’s Christians who are now blocking each other’s Facebook posts, judging and name calling. What’s been most shocking is that instead of some religious leaders and Pastors using their Twitter and Facebook accounts to offer prayers and clear up the confusion, they chose to fan the flames themselves.
As Christians, we are called to be reconcilers and peace makers. James 3:18 reminds us that “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” Rather than spend time tearing down each other, we should work to tear down the walls of racism, sexism and bigotry that get erected during election seasons. As Christians, our most important witness is not to proclaim and stick to any political party affiliation but to love others and by doing so, show others the love that God has for them.
Shewanda Riley, PhD. is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.