You Can Love People Who Betrayed You

Sarah Bartley
Beverly, MA
United States

I am not ashamed to say it; I wept in church on Sunday morning.

In the wake of news that 4 of 5 white evangelicals — my faith heritage — voted for Trump, I felt betrayed. How could my brothers champion a man who bragged about sexual assault? In the wake of betrayal I felt anger, then a deep, dark sadness. What have we done? How can my faith tradition that so champions the message of personal reconciliation make such a reckless choice on behalf of its country? I had not cried since Wednesday morning, but sitting in church among white evangelicals, my heart broke and the tears flowed at what we had done.

Yet deeper than the layer of sadness, there's something else at the very bottom of my soul.

For whatever reason, God has seen fit to root me in the white, evangelical church. I have many times tried to run, but HE brought me back and reminded me that the call to make faithful disciples of all nations indeed applies to my own people. God has also rooted me in the gospel. In the wake of the 2016 election, being rooted in both places feels ... uncomfortable. As I carried my grief to Jesus on Sunday, the still small voice softly reminded me that my church does not have the power to define my faith. God alone created faith in me to begin with and God will bring it to completion. HE meets me in all kinds of places — sacred and secular, liberal and conservative. Only HE defines my faith and blesses it as good.

He had another, more challenging word for me.

"Have you always loved your white evangelical brothers well? Have you really invested in the hard work of embracing them AND calling-out the sin? Or have you sometimes worked against them? Have you been more comfortable holding some people at arms length and judging them? My daughter: be confident in my love and in my Way. From that confidence, you are free to dig in. Engage in the harder work of active reconciliation. Because I went to the hard work of making you — once an enemy — into a friend. I hung on the cross and loved my executioners. I turned Pharisees into Kingdom builders. You can love people who betrayed you."

Friends: Our communities are already too divided. I, for one, cannot add another departure. So I think I'll be staying put where God has rooted me. But I am doing it as one who, in the wake of the 2016 election, has renewed confidence and boldness. I will not be as patient as I have been with division. I will not be as silent about racism. I will more confidently champion the voices of the marginalized. I'm not sure what that will mean, but I have hope that God will make something beautiful out of the wreckage of my broken heart.

For those who feel afraid, God knows your fear. HE is still the God of people who fear. HE stood in the gap for you and I promise to do a better job of standing in the gap with you. God promised to rebuild what's broken. I'm ready to get my hands dirty with you.

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