“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
What made Jesus so disruptive to the culture of his day was not how he treated those that were well-liked and respected. It was how he loved those whom everyone else rejected. Remember Matthew the tax collector? Zaccheus? What about the woman at the well? The woman caught in adultery? Or think about the parable of the Samaritan. Remember the leper? The thief on the cross? You get the point, but the list goes on. Jesus is continually engaging with, loving, walking closely beside, and forgiving those who are not only different from him, but are often the ones rejected by society.
“Freely you have received; freely give.”
–Matthew 10:8 NIV
We often marvel at the love that Jesus demonstrates. We are grateful that God would choose to walk in relationship with people like us—flawed, selfish, and often misguided in our perceptions of him and others. We love to be recipients of unmerited and unconditional love. We hope, and even expect, to be shown grace when we make mistakes. The question we must all answer is: are we willing to give that same grace to others?
An uncomfortable question
What comes to mind when you think of someone with a different political view? Do you see someone created in the image of God? Do you see a person with fears, hopes, and insecurities? Do you see someone capable of good, even if you see bad there as well? Do you see someone worthy of your love?
If we are going to be kingdom-minded when it comes to politics, we must be willing to love first. We need to see people, souls, and hearts, first. When our own beliefs aren’t fueled by love, we end up vilifying those who are different. They become dehumanized and branded as enemies, rather than known by their true identities as God’s loved children.
“And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’”
There happen to be followers of Jesus who are Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians.
This may be frustrating. Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand how or why someone can believe something so different. But the truth is that we are not defined by our political parties, we are defined by our identities in Christ. Political parties and beliefs may bend and change, but our identity in Christ does not waiver. And when our identity is firmly set, we do not have to take offense to or be fearful of those who think differently. We should remember that others are loved and infinitely valued by God, rather than brand them as “right” or “wrong.”
As disappointing as it may be, there is no “God party.” A man-made system can never fully represent all of the incredible, perfect facets of God. And no political party or candidate will ever fully encapsulate the heart of Jesus. Even the greatest biblical leaders of our faith fell short in dramatic ways. We can’t possibly hope to find redemption or restoration for our country through the work of human hands alone. No man can do what only God is capable of achieving. More on that later . . .
- Reflect on what comes to your mind when you think of your opponents in the political space.
- How do you see them? Do you see them as actual flesh and blood humans? Do you see them with wants, needs, gifts, weaknesses, passions, insecurities, hurts, and disappointments? Do you see them as having a heart and a soul? Do you see them as being loved by God despite their flaws? Be honest.
- Take a moment to ask God to show you how he feels about those same people or groups.
- Spend some time praying for those that you would consider your opponents in the political space.
- Ask God to give you a heart of love for those you disagree with.
If you enjoyed this blog, click here to read Josh’s full FREE eBook: Peace in Politics: A Guide to Thriving in this Divisive Time.