If there is one conversation I always stay away from, regardless of the setting or media platform, it is politics.
There is not much room for give and take in politics, it is a very polarizing subject. Talking about it seems to bring out the worst in people as we feel we have the right or liberty to dehumanize and berate politicians based on what we believe versus what they believe.
This is as true in the general market as it is within the Christian worldview.
Today, I am breaking that rule and speaking up on something that breaks my heart. I’m addressing this to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ; those of us who are followers of the Way.
I want to start by posing you a question; do you love President Barack Obama?
I am not asking if you agree with President Obama, or if you even like our President. I am asking do you love our President?
In reality, you can substitute President Barack Obama with the name of any political figure that you may disagree with. Do you love them?
I think nearly all of us would agree with the two greatest laws we have as followers of Christ; love God and love our neighbor. It is really irrefutable.
Yet it seems as if we also do a good job as defining our neighbor as just people we like; or people we agree with. We may not say that, but we don’t have to say that.
Our actions and our words reveal who we love.
I remember a year ago watching the Boston bombing unfold, when young Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was on the run from police, stopping and praying for Dzhokhar. That did not mean that I stopped praying for those who were ravaged by his atrocious acts or that I even supported him, because rest assured I did not. But amidst the flood of posts from other followers of Christ wishing for his demise and retribution; I stopped to post that I was praying for him too.
Amidst the flood of hate towards Dzhokhar I was reminded of Jesus’ words as he sat on the mountainside with his closest followers…
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Jesus’ words are beautiful.
As these words to Jesus’ followers rushed into my soul, I was reminded of how we cling to them in convenience yet ignore them when they become uncomfortable.
Jesus’ teachings are full of life and freedom; it is heartbreaking that we only follow them out of convenience.
We are all passionate about injustice. We are all-in when it comes to seeing the Kingdom of God come alive. We all have an opinion about how to see His Kingdom advance here on earth.
Thankfully, we can rest assured His Kingdom will not come politically.
Jesus was certain to remind Pilate of this when He said, “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36)
Yet, we fight as if that is our destination, a utopian government in America. And in the pursuit of that utopia we forget the very words of the one we are fighting for; “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.“
The beauty of love is that it does not mean acceptance or agreement.
1 Corinthians is very clear when it says that love does not rejoice in wrongdoing; yet it does go on to show us what love is.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.“
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
As followers of Christ we are told to love God with everything we have, and then to love our neighbor as ourself. Our neighbor is not only the one we get along with, but the ones we don’t. We see that picture painted as Jesus shared the story of the ‘Good Samaritan.”
Our duty is to love, and to make Jesus known. That’s it.
Can we have a political opinion? Yes! Can we stand for injustice? Absolutely. Can we do those things in love? There is no choice.
Know this, I am not labeling President Barack Obama as our enemy; nor am I saying I am in alignment with him.
What I am saying is that we are to love; those that we agree with and those that we disagree with. We are to love those who can reciprocate, and those who cannot. We are to love even when we don’t want to love.
So I return to my original question, do you love President Barack Obama? Will you commit to praying for our national leaders along with me? We don’t have to like them, or to agree with them, but we do have to love them.