At church I regularly talk politics without talking politicians. What I mean is that I don’t talk about specific politicians, while I do talk about how the kingdom of God should direct how we live as aliens in this world, ambassadors of the kingdom who live in this country, and a royal priesthood who get to vote for those who represent us in this republic. You see I am positive that a person’s faith in Christ should affect the way they act and live as a citizen. Therefore, as a part of church I talk about issues that often butt up against what our current politicians are at the very least talking about (which doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing anything). But in church, or on this blog, I don’t talk about who I am voting for.1
Presently though I am saddened to see how some who claim to be followers of Christ are responding to those with whom they disagree. I understand that people feel strongly about the election. I feel strongly about it too. I will freely admit that while I am not thrilled with either of the major party candidates, there is one that I am truly scared of, and I hope and have been praying that this candidate loses.2 Of course, I also have a decent amount of faith in the system to work even if we elect the unthinkable. I just really hope the American people don’t decide in such a way that I have to find out if I am right or wrong about the American system being able to handle the unthinkable.
Still I know people are heated over this election and I have seen some people say things about their political opponent and the people that support that opponent that are, frankly, repulsive. Mean, hateful, ungodly things about the people on the other side. People who have been created in the Image of God who because they hold a different political ideology are treated as the other – intrinsically different, non-bearers of the Imago Dei. I understand that they may be your “political enemies” but Christ said the following concerning how we should treat our enemies.
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. Matthew 5:43-38
Pretty straight forward in my opinion. Just in case it isn’t that straight forward here is a quote from Justin Martyr describing Christians in the second century living this out in the following manner:
We who used to value the acquisition of wealth and possessions more than anything else now bring what we have into a common fund and share it with anyone who needs it. We used to hate and destroy one another and refused to associate with people of another race or country. Now, because of Christ, we live together with such people and pray for our enemies.
This is in the 2nd century, the 100s, people. They understood what it meant to have enemies back then. Want another source, well the Didache, possibly the earliest non-scripture teaching of the church, says the following concerning how we are to live out loving our enemies.
“Bless those who curse you,” and “pray for your enemies.” Moreover, fast “for those who persecute you.” For “what credit is it to you if you love those who love you? Is that not the way the heathen act?” But “you must love those who hate you,” and then you will make no enemies.
Again they knew what enemies were back then and they understood Jesus to say “love your enemies”, and therefore they tried to do it. But some who claim to follow Christ seem to have forgotten this in regard to political candidates that they have never met and even worse people whom they claim to love who are voting for a different candidate than they are. It isn’t just in this election, I’ve seen it happen many times before, but it does seem to have amp’d up a good bit during this election. If we say we are followers of Christ then we need to do what He says.
I wonder if when we see Jesus face to face if He isn’t going to ask us if we really loved Him, because our actions towards Hillary, Donald, and those that support them didn’t seem to reflect that love. The problem with Jesus is that He really meant it when He said things like “love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” If we are going to claim to be children of the Most High then we should try to live out what He says. So stop treating your political opponents so badly. Love them, or at least be honest and admit you aren’t following Christ right now.