This morning, my devotional reading took me to one of the most challenging passages of Scripture. In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus invites those who seek to follow him to love our enemies and to pray for them.
It is a word that is as uncomfortable as it is challenging. No one is naturally inclined to love their enemies. No one really wants to even pray for them. Our natural inclination is to despise our enemies. We don’t want to show love or concern for them. Yet, Jesus calls us to the deeper and more difficult way of life that sees our enemy as our neighbor and calls us to see them as a child of God created in God’s very image.
That is hard to do. Many have reflected on how this passage calls us to care for the personal enemies in our lives, those people who just seem to get in our way or make life difficult for us. We’ve also reflected on how this passage calls us to find ways to pray for those who would do us harm. None of those things are easy, but it is the way of Christ who showed what this looks like when he prayed for those who crucified him on the cross.
As I reflect upon these words, this morning, I am left wondering if there is another application to Matthew 5:43-48. What if Jesus is calling us to love and pray for our political enemies?
That might be one of the hardest expressions of loving our enemies today. We live in a polarized climate where we want to see the evil more than the good in those who do not share our views. Social media sites are filled with expressions of distrust, frustrations, and dismissal of anyone or any view that does not reflect the views that we hold dear.
Our natural inclination when we are approached by someone who disagrees with us or who promotes a view contrary to what we believe is to denounce and separate ourselves from them. We will use words and phrases that shows not just our disagreement with someone who has a different view, but our deep-seated hatred of anyone who expresses a view that we cannot accept.
This is not the way for those who seek to follow Christ. In our polarized climate, and especially as we begin a new congressional session, we are called to find ways to love and pray for our political opposites. We are to find ways to see how God loves those whom we may disagree with and to pray for them.
What might this look like?
When you feel the need to post something negative about a political leader on Facebook, take a moment to ask God to bless them today.
When you feel the need to end a friendship with someone who has a different view, ask God to show you how to build a better relationship with them.
When you don’t want to hear from someone who disagrees with you, ask God to allow you the ability to hear them and to respond with grace.
There may be no more difficult expression of love today than to love a Democrat if you are a Republican or vice versa. May we who claim Christ’s love share that love even with those who we disagree with politically.