The fire is out for the moment, but the acrimonious smoke from the impeachment inferno still hangs over our country. And, with a contentious and bitterly partisan election season already upon us, public nastiness will blaze forth frequently in the months ahead.
While the conflagration burned far away in D.C., sparks still fly in the clash of opinions and worldviews over many a dinner table and in many a living room... and on social media. The ability to disagree without hating one another has almost been lost. How are we, as followers of Jesus, to respond toward those with whom we differ?
Before we look at Jesus’ surprising answer, it’s important to remember that political involvement and activism can accomplish much good that affects our daily lives. However, this impact pales in comparison to the change that occurs when a soul moves from death to life! People need transformation from the inside out. Only faith in Jesus can accomplish that, not partisan persuasion. The life of Jesus is visible in us as we follow his commands in the strength he provides.
Jesus speaks to us now with this timeless counsel: “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the most high, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:35-36 NLT)
If you’re skeptical about the existence of God, Jesus’ words should help banish your doubt. No mere human would come up with this counterintuitive command! Before receiving the heart transformation that only God can accomplish, each of us focused primarily on ourselves. To look out for the needs of others, regardless of their response to us, is to live out the life of Jesus before them. God is kind to all, even those who keep slapping his hand of care away.
We are compassionate when we are moved to action by the suffering of others. We first listen, then reach out to help even those who may hate us, knowing that God will reward such action. And that reward is simply the blessing of knowing we helped another person that God loves in the strength he provided.
So engage in lively discussions without hating those with whom you disagree. Take a stand for your political beliefs, but allow God to challenge you by reaching out to those who hold an opposite view. Remember that soul transformation is infinitely more important than political persuasion. That’s how the current national fires of acrimony and hatred can be fought… with the love of God lived out through us.
Don Baumann is the outreach pastor at Hilltop Community Church.