This blog is about the grace of God. Thus, I decided my first post should be about something that puts people at rest; something that fills them with warm, happy, cozy, enlightened feelings; something that will endear them to this blog forever. It came to me in a flash of brilliance: politics.
My apologies. But don’t worry: what I have to say about politics is unconventional and wholly pertinent to the study of grace. The following is adapted from an entry in my Warm Journal.
“Love is patient, love is kind . . . it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails . . . ” I Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 NIV
There lies among the circles of Christian believers a common misconception: that the all-encompassing New Testament command to love (brothers, neighbors, and enemies) goes only as far as people within our physical reach. Somehow, those beyond that reach, a.k.a. the famous, get overlooked. Is it because our chances of meeting this or that senator are nil, that he or she seems outside reality? Outside the need for forgiveness and prayer? Is it because most celebrities have impenetrable façades of expressions and opinions they show to all the world, that we think of them as unchanging and void of desire to mend their highly publicized mistakes? Whatever the reasons, there is no real excuse for not showing them, in our words, thoughts, and prayers, the same grace that God has shown us. It doesn’t matter that the people in question will never hear what we say or think about them. God knows.
I heard a preacher define grace as “God’s overwhelming desire to treat us like sin never happened.” None of us deserve that forgiveness, that favor. But God gave it to us anyway. I would like to talk about what that means when applied to politicians.
Foremost, it is time for Christians to start seeing politicians as a real, legitimate, and ripe harvest field. As in, people just as precious to God as the lost souls in our neighborhoods. We are forever asking, “Why aren’t they godly?” We wail and scream and tear our hair out. We act surprised when they make bad choices for our country. What we don’t see is that they do no worse than any unbeliever on the street would do in their place. What separates the two in our minds is that a rude grocery store clerk deserves at least a smile and a thank-you, while politicians, etc. who disagree with our views deserve no such courtesy. Some might say that’s because they are responsible for more than the grocery clerk, and have abused that law- and policy-making power. As they freely chose responsibility, and as their bad decisions affect everyone, they are more punishable than anyone. However, though this may be just, it is not just to assume that we, the Church, are the ones to dole out punishments of hateful words and ugly gossip. That is arrogance. And if it isn’t our responsibility, then the shortcomings of a president, a congress member, a head of a department, the Democrat/Republican/Libertarian/Independent party, or whoever–ought to be considered no worse than our own.
We have not seen these blind men and women as real people. To many believers, they are all potential antichrists. And so erring leaders don’t recieve the prayer they need to break free of the devil’s captivity (see II Timothy 2:24-26). They are real people, and Jesus wants them as siblings and friends, even if we do not. We have not remembered that the more punishment a person deserves, the more of God’s grace and forgiveness is available to them (Luke 7:36-47). How will these people know the heart of God toward them if we, the carriers of His grace and forgiveness, regard them publicly with words and countenances of condemnation, hatred, and contempt?
I think the average person scorns countless leaders and politicians, not to mention at least one political party. Until fairly recently, I was as practiced at this bitterness as anyone. (My specific political views are beside the point.) But it’s time for us all to stop. Now. To be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves (James 1:22). It’s time to love the leaders of America.
It is absolutely possible to simultaneously show the grace I’m talking about and still hold true to your principles. God never asks us to agree with immoral policies; simply to love those who make them. Yes, love. (If you can swallow that pill, He’ll wash it down with chocolate milk. I promise.) Because what we do in public is perhaps not as important as the changes we make within our homes, such as earnest prayer for everyone in a position of authority (I Timothy 2:1-3). Not to mention a cessation of slander and ridicule (Ephesians 4:31-32).
It’s time to pray for our leaders in earnest, as we would for a lost friend. Time to forgive, and declare to our Father: “We forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Time to show the world what the children of God are made of.
I believe this is the key to moral people getting into office, to wayward leaders reforming, and to the good leaders already in place being able to do their jobs unhindered. Remember that while the Church is making a terrific stink about this or that immoral politician, those godly leaders have to deal with the unethical ones daily and come up with solutions to the problems they cause. We do them no service by making their opponents dig in their heels against everyone who bears the name of Christ.