I’ve already talked about the primacy of love over demanding individual freedoms here, so now let’s talk about how love must trump our politics.
For the rest of the world, understand that individual liberties are almost worshiped in America. This is part of our national DNA. But we must ask, is it the DNA of the Kingdom of Heaven, to where our highest allegiance is due? And is there really such a thing as true liberty without other-centered, self-giving love? (Matt.7:12; 22:37-40)
I honestly don’t think there is such a thing.
Only this other-centered love will help us really “hear” the other side on the important issues that confront us. After all, we’re ultimately all in this together.
We who value American liberties, safe borders, and minimal government intrusion, do we equally value making sure everyone has a place at the table and that their stories are heard? Are we motivated more by self-interest and fear or by compassion and inclusion?
These aren’t “liberal” or “conservative” values; these are Jesus values. Søren Kierkegaard once said, “Once you label me, you negate me.” Labeling people is easier than actually getting to know them and walking in their shoes. And when we dismiss those we don’t agree with, we reveal our own version of narrow-minded bigotry.
As Jesus followers, we must take a hard look at these things and not be more motivated by our cultural paradigms and political leanings than by His example and teachings. Here are just a few notable examples of those teachings (all are NKJV):
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt.5:43-45)
29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion….
36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 1o:29-33, 36-37)
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matt.25:37-40)
How does our politics line up with these values? We can see from this small sample that Jesus defines love as caring for our neighbor, showing mercy, and even loving our adversaries.
But also understand that this same love that champions compassion for the marginalized and inclusion for all, also champions an unborn child’s right to live over the mother’s right to make that decision for them. If we’re to be consistent, we must see that love values all human life equally.
Politics, by nature, is divisive and factious. This is why I believe Jesus warned us against it, alluding to two insidious strongholds: the religious spirit (Pharisees) and the political spirit (Herod).
15 Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” (Mark 8:15)
The religious spirit separates us from God; the political spirit separates us from each other. What’s relevant here, though, the political spirit keeps us from listening to each other so that a solution can result that benefits everyone.
A divisive political spirit is a work of the flesh, as the Amplified Bible brings out (emphasis mine):
19 Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency, 20 Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies)… (Gal.5:19-20 AMP)
Love preempts any pretense of wanting freedom to pursue self-interest at the expense of others, and it must also trump our divisive political ideologies. Walking in self-giving love is the only way we’ll ever experience the freedom that people came to America for in the first place.
Without this love, our “freedoms” become just another prison: a life of brokenness, separation, anger, and despair.
My prayer is that mutual respect and other-centered love will prevail in our discussions about moving our nation (and world) toward a better future, regardless of political affiliation.