As you know, I’m a huge sports fan who loves competition. Having said that, last night’s process of revealing the election results felt like a championship game and my sports mindset drew me into it all. The “event” provided everything – suspense, surprises, prognosticating, lead changes, and winners and losers at the finish.

Unfortunately, the results and competition are much more personal, hateful, hurtful and emotional than even the biggest sports rivalries. Although Duke-UNC and Michigan-Ohio State rivalries are intense with hatred, I don’t think they compare to a presidential election…especially this one!

Sadly, strong disagreements among friends, family, and even church members can cause pain and division. As hurtful words become hard to accept, people end up throwing away friendships because of political conflict.

I personally place great value in friendships, and don’t ever want arguments about serious topics (or even sports) to put a wedge between us. I believe in honest back and forth discussions that lead to a better understanding of the other person’s viewpoint. Friendships are more important than politics.

Patriots’ head coach, Bill Belichick, showed he beleives this as well. In a personal letter he sent to his longtime friend, Donald Trump, the day before the election, he said this:

“Congratulations on a tremendous campaign. You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media and have come out beautifully — beautifully. You have proven to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your leadership is amazing. I have always had tremendous respect for you, but the toughness and perseverance you have displayed over the past year is remarkable. Hopefully tomorrow’s election results will give the opportunity to make America great again.”

Of course this created a media storm, but I appreciate seeing that a busy and successful NFL coach took the time to encourage his friend. He put his own reputation on the line for Donald Trump. When asked about the letter in his press conference, the Patriots’ coach had this to say:

“Our friendship goes back many years. And I think anybody that spends more than five minutes with me knows I’m not a political person. My comments are not politically motivated. It’s friendship and loyalty to Donald.

“A couple weeks ago we had Secretary of State (John) Kerry in the locker room, another friend of mine. I can’t imagine two people with more different political views than those two. But to me friendship and loyalty is just about that, it’s not about political or religious views.

“I write hundreds of letters and notes every month. It doesn’t mean I agree with every single thing that every person thinks about politics, religion or other subjects. I have multiple friendships that are important to me and that’s what that was about.”

With all the shenanigans that have taken place throughout this presidential campaign, I find Belichick’s perspective to be very refreshing. How different would our world be if we actually valued loyalty and friendship over making sure everyone agrees with our political viewpoints and writing people off if they don’t?

As followers of Jesus, I think a similar approach is important to take. While standing firm in our desire for others to know about the transforming power of Christ’s love and God’s grace, the message must be delivered from a place of love, loyalty, and friendship.

Even as others disagree or don’t yet understand, let’s remain patient and loving while we remember the words in Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT): “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

As we go throughout our day understanding that half of the country is upset with the results from last night, let’s not lose friendships over it. Instead, let’s hold onto Proverbs 17:17(ESV), “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I know this political season has created great division among people, including friends and family. I pray that you would give me the strength to remain loyal – even during disagreements. I pray that I would put my friendships above trying to win an argument, and in that approach they would see Your love shine through. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.