love in politics

“I am concerned that we have become a nation where no honor, no grace, no mercy, no benefit-of-the-doubt, no decency is ever bestowed upon our political opponents.  I fear that we have become a nation where good, decent, and kind citizens think that it is acceptable to “check their goodness and kindness at the door” when they enter a political discussion or listen to a political talk show or make a political decision.  I fear that we have become a nation where we see our political opposites not as opponents who have different ideas for America but, rather, enemies who are bent on destroying America.  I fear that we have lost our desire to discern propaganda from policy.” David Davies, “A Morality Lesson From Richard Nixon”

I have been avoiding this post for quite some time, because I have somewhat of a phobia of talking about politics.  I have a knot in my stomach right now, just trying to contemplate opening this door.  But, as in the words of the brilliant Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.” And so, being that I don’t want my words or actions to be assumed by others simply because I have not had the courage to say or do them myself, I will speak.

Election season is a quite tumultuous time in my spirit.  It breaks my heart, makes me mad, gives me ulcers, teaches me to hold my tongue, causes me to reexamine my own beliefs and why I believe them, forces me to exhibit grace for people I disagree with, makes me fight to keep my respect for people I have long respected…it is exhausting.

It’s good.  It is formative and it refining and it is the hard work of denying my own instinct to ignore grace and simply wash my hands of people.  It is teaching me how to be more like Jesus on difficult terrain, and that is nothing I would trade in for the sake of ease.  But in moments, it just makes me long for this whole mess to be made right, to be brought to completion by the One who watches with a heart far more broken than mine.

It is painful to watch the people I love and respect group other people I love and respect into entire categories of “good” and “evil.”  Of “smart” and “ignorant.”  It is painful to watch the people I love and respect ignore one of the two most important commandments God gave them, which is to LOVE your neighbor.  And you can tell me all day long that you love your neighbor.  But when I see you call someone an idiot, a moron, an ignorant jackass, a libtard, a conservitard, or any other of a multitude of names I have seen thrown out at people in the past several months…that word love stops having meaning for me.  “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.” In light of those words…do you really love the neighbor you just called a moronic retard based on his political opinion? Love is an action, friends.  Love is not just a word, and it’s not just a feeling.  Love does.  And if your doing is not loving, your heart is not loving.

I struggle with this as well.  I struggle with being loving toward people who refuse to be loving to others.  I struggle to be patient with and kind to those who are openly and publicly rude to others in one breath, and claim Christ in the next.  I struggle to not publicly dishonor you the way you have publicly dishonored someone else, be it Barrack Obama or Mitt Romney or the person across the street whose political stance you oppose.

Please show love in your debates, friends.  I beg of you.  I know that many of you who will read this are as desperate as I am to bring America back around to life the way Jesus did it.  But I pray for all of us that we would discern how to fight that battle without cutting Jesus off at the knees by removing from our interactions the love that He used to capsulize the entirety of the law.  America could come back to the law of God, but if we do so without coming back to the LOVE of God, we’re nowhere near Him.

I absolutely understand that this is easier said than done.  I experience an increasing number of moments recently when I am incredibly grateful that love is not a feeling.  Because if love were a feeling as of late, I would not be much of a loving person to many of the people I know.  I am thankful that even when I don’t feel love, I can choose act in it.  I pray daily for the grace to actually make that choice, because Lord knows I’m not a decent enough person to do it on my own.

Jesus, help me to examine my own heart, my own motivations, my own interactions.  See if there’s anything nasty going on in there, and if there is, show it to me so You can make it right.

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