Friday, October 10, 2008
Love Your Enemies?
The final stretch has begun. With about three weeks to go the nation’s highest office is still up for grabs as the candidates make their final push.
My interest in this post however isn’t in making an endorsement or even examining a particular position. I want to talk about us. What us you ask? The us that claims to belong to the King of kings and Lord of lords. I’ve already written about how this is yet another election that will reveal the very real political differences of God’s people. My hope and prayer is that we will at least handle these differences biblically while striving to maintain kingdom focused unity.
One of my main concerns is our witness to those who are united with us politically yet apart from us spiritually. That concern springs from the reality that many with whom we agree with politically have a narrow, short-sighted view with respect to politics in particular and life in general. By this I don’t mean that they’re utterly foolish people who lack the intelligence and sophistication to see this country’s challenges from multiple perspectives. I do mean that lacking a biblical perspective on life, the future and ultimate reality they actually believe that the political process offers the best way to the kind of lifestyle and country they wish to have. Many of them genuinely believe that if their candidate isn’t elected the country will unravel, things will begin to fall apart and desperate and dire times will certainly arrive. For them a victory by their man is the only thing that stands between what America is today and what may be a drastically different America.
Such people can begin to view their candidate’s opponent and those who support him in the worst possible light. You see without a biblical perspective their only hope is in life in the here and now. And the factor that weighs most heavily in the here and now is the nation’s political process. Lose out in politics, lose out in life. By the grace and power of God those who trust in Jesus Christ have been freed from such a mindset. Our ultimate confidence in a better future isn’t centered on Pennsylvania Avenue, Wall Street or Main St. Thus we are free to work for the good of our community, region, nation and world with the full confidence that God is still seated on His throne and will be there on Wednesday Nov. 5th regardless of who is elected the next president. That doesn’t mean we have to ignore the political process. It’s just that we can engage it without the feeling of absolute dread and despair should our candidate lose.
And this is why it’s imperative that we serve as kingdom focused witnesses to those who are united with our party but not to our Lord. Many of them may be terrified at the prospect of an Obama or McCain administration. Driven by fear they may say and even be willing to do things that cause or exacerbate lasting and bitter divisions within the country. They will view their political opponents as enemies and in desperation treat them that way. How can we be a witness in this atmosphere? Think about it for a moment. How do believers treat their enemies? Did our Lord have anything to say on the subject? What did the apostles teach and write about this? Our witness during this time is the way that we treat, regard and respect our political opponents. We follow the dictates of scripture regarding how we treat our enemies while refusing to just join our crowd and thus give in to the desires of our sinful nature. Why do we do this? We do so because as important as this election is we are the ones who can show those united with us politically yet apart from us spiritually that there are matters even weightier than the direction and state of this country.
But perhaps even more than that the people of the living God are determined to treat those who oppose us with kindness because that’s how the Lord treated us when we were His enemies. Need proof? Check this out.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Rom. 5:6-11.
Who are the ungodly to which Paul referred? It’s us. We were ungodly. And it didn’t matter if we carried our ungodliness in a more moral manner than others. There was enough ungodliness within us to earn the just, fair, fierce, certain and eternal punishment of the living God. What did it mean for us to be God’s enemies? (vs. 10) It meant that we were opposed and hostile to God’s Person, worship, rule, word, will, ways, agenda, salvation and Son. And once again it didn’t matter if we carried out our opposition in a more moral manner than others. What could we have done about our situation? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We were helpless and completely without power to change ourselves or our destiny.
How did God therefore treat those of us who were His enemies? He committed His Son to live a perfect life for us, die to pay the penalty our rebellion had earned and then rise from the dead proving the Father accepted His sinless life and sacrificial death. Did this happen once we awoke to the fact that we were enemies and pleaded for God to do something? Nope. God demonstrated the depth of His love for His enemies in this specific manner: While we were still spewing our venomous hostility toward God, His rule, worship, will, word, ways, and agenda Jesus Christ His Son died for our sins. What would have happened had God determined to deal with us fairly, give us what we deserve and treat us as enemies? Damnation. Total, unrelenting, unending, punishing damnation.
And one of the best times for us to highlight these precious truths is election time. And one of the best ways for us to highlight them is to treat those who oppose us the way the living God has treated us.
To Him Who Loves Us…