Yesterday in church one of the pastors gave a very potent, timely reminder during his prayer that Jesus admonished his followers to pray for their enemies. As the pastor prayed, everything that happened in the last week across the country came to mind. The pastor and one other leader also said a pray on behalf of the nation asking for wisdom, guidance and for God to remind his people that even when things do not go the way that they expect them to go, God is still in control.
The anger over what has been happening in the country, not just this week but over the last four years has led many to get into the political arena and do battle pitting ideas against ideas. So many people think that all one has to do is convince the other side that their political views are wrong and once people are convinced they will change their political views. Political differences over the last few years have led to enmity between neighbors, friends, acquaintainces, and families. Everyone thinks that they are correct.
While it is true that a lot of politics is clearly a matter of opinion, interpretation, or based strictly on the way people feel about a particular subject, on the other hand; truth, right and wrong is also existent in politics. There are some issues that are not simply a matter of opinion. When it comes to these issues some people become very passionate and they believe that they have to speak out on them. They think that all they have to do is show others in no uncertain terms the truth of a matter, or the virtue of a matter, and that should be enough to convince others. When others cannot see, or refuse to see what is clearly the truth or what is clearly right or wrong, it often leads to frustration for those trying enlighten others. Those trying to convince others think that they just have to continue showing people why truth, right and wrong matter, and why a particular issue falls into one of those categories.
Though it is important to engage politically, it is also important to remember that in the end, people are people, and even political opponents are made in the image and likeness of God. Because our politics are so divisive today many people take it personally when they cannot convince their political opponents over to the side they advocate. Some take it so personally that they begin to view those on the oter side of the political spectrum, not simply as political opponents, but as real enemies. The effort to convince political opponents then intensifies, and frustrations grow, sometimes even turning into anger. Some then begin to see political opponents not as neighbors, friends, acquaintances, family etc. but simply as opposing vessels who need to be convinced about the error of their ways..
Jesus said “you have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for He makes His sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love only those who love you, what recompense will you have? Dont the tax collectors do the same?
Thank you to our pastor whose words resonated beyond more that he probably imagined. He prayed a very meaningful prayer. It gave a timely reminder that politics is not simply about trying to convince people, and thanks to our technical director for his prayer that reminded us to pray for our political leaders.
As Jesus’ words ring through time, let’s remember to apply them to our political opponents. Continue to speak truth in the face of lies, but remember to pray for poliitacl opponents. Don’t hold back from engaging in the market place of ideas, don’t back down when you ar right, but remember to see people as people. Pray for those in authority even if your candidate loses and remember these other words of Jesus to “set your affections on things above.” This world will pass away, but eyes have not seen nor ears heard what God has prepared for those who love him.
Be blessed even in this toxic political climate.