It was really cold outside. It wasn't supposed to be cold inside. But when I woke up that morning, my nose felt like a puppy nose. Cold.
No wonder! It was 45 degrees in the house! Turned out the problem wasn't the thermometer that just reflected the temperature. It was the thermostat. That sets the temperature.
If there was ever a time when our world, our country needed for the followers of Jesus to be thermostats, it's now. It's way too hot. So much anger and yelling and disrespect.
We who bear Jesus' Name can't afford to be thermometers in an environment like this. If we reflect the fierce and fractured temperature around us, we will simply give folks another reason not to choose Jesus.
No issue I may have thoughts about is important enough for me to forget who I really am. Or to discredit the One who loves me most.
For one thing, I have "dual citizenship." My passport says I'm an American citizen. My Bible says, "Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there" (Philippians 3:20).
My national citizenship is for the rest of my life. My citizenship in the Kingdom of God is forever. And it's to my forever King that I owe my ultimate loyalty.
What I must not forget is that, first and foremost, "we are Christ's ambassadors" (2 Corinthians 5:20). So, "whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus" (Colossians 3:17). In my texts, my conversations, my emails, my social media posts, my attitude. Folks can't see and hear Jesus. But they can see and hear me. And judge my Jesus by me.
After an election, some are grieving, seething, celebrating or stressing over the outcome. That's why, as one of Jesus' representatives, I need to make a choice - to bring the peace and presence of Jesus into each conversation, each situation.
So, I've been thinking about what instructions I have from my King that will help me set a climate He'd be comfortable in. It boils down to five simple responsibilities for a Jesus-ambassador.
His kind of love. The kind that loved us "while we were yet sinners" (Romans 5:8). Unconditional. Uncondemning. Love that is light in dark places. "Love your enemies... Bless those who curse you," Jesus said (Luke 6:27-28). Love that builds up and refuses to tear down or reciprocate.
It's a choice, not a feeling. Not to treat you like you treat me. But like Jesus treats me.
If I get sucked into the spiral of hurtful words and inflamed opinions, I become a reason for someone to say, "See, they're just like us!" I can't do that because "this is how they will know you are My disciples, by your love..." (John 13:35). Whatever they give, I know what I must give. Love like His.
No matter who leads a nation or who wins an election, my orders are to "pray for kings and all those in authority...this pleases God our Savior" (1 Timothy 2:2-3). In the Throne Room of God, there are no political parties or labels. Even if I don't vote for someone, I must pray for them. And to fervently pray, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).
Peter said to represent Him with "gentleness and respect" and to "show proper respect to everyone" (1 Peter 3:15, 2:17). The respect due a person as someone made in God's image and for whom Christ died.
In Jesus' day, you didn't get to vote on who would be emperor. Whatever our form of government, Jesus' orders remain: "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's" (Mark 12:17). In the case of the United States, it's a democracy. So, I pay taxes. I do it to obey my King. And living in a democracy, where voices can be freely expressed, we vote and abide by laws.
And there is one last word that is glue during these shattering, disturbing times.
Especially when an election may not turn out the way you had hoped. You can spend the next day, week, month or year defined by that disappointment. Or you can embrace the sovereignty of your King of kings. Which will lead you to ask that soul-lifting question - "How can God use this?"
The One "who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will" (Ephesians 1:11). "The Most High" who is "sovereign over all kingdoms on earth" (Daniel 4:25). I am His child. My life is not at the mercy of a virus. An election. A depression. A disaster. My Father's in charge here!
Each night, our children went to sleep with the song, "Safe am I, safe am I, in the hollow of His hand." So am I. So are you. Whatever the headlines say.
So may I live to be a thermostat, not a thermometer. And to make people want to belong to Jesus. Maybe because they saw a little of Him in me.