Show of hands: How many of you voted yesterday? Those of you with your hands up—good for you! Those of you whistling and looking the other way—what were you thinking?
Wait, let me guess. “I don’t have time to vote”? Or maybe, “My vote doesn’t matter that much.” The one I hear a lot lately is: “All those politicians are corrupt, and I refuse to vote for any of them.”
You’re right. Politicians certainly have their issues. They struggle with making good choices, especially when those good choices might cost them their reputations, or votes, or friendships. Politicians have to contend with all the same temptations everybody else does, and they have to do much of it publically. And often times, they do it poorly.
And sometimes, politicians are flat-out wrong. Some believe homosexuality is a commendable lifestyle choice; others believe it’s sin. Some believe it’s the state’s responsibility to provide for its citizens; others believe in a sovereign God who provides for His creation. Some believe abortion is a viable alternative to bringing an unwanted child into the world; others believe it’s murder.
Let’s face it: Both sides can’t be right. And because of my faith, I vote my conscience. And I’m convinced I’m on the right side.
But how should I handle those who believe differently than I do? Is it my job to convince the other side they’re wrong? Is it my job to hate and malign people who fight for what I abhor? Or should I obey the Savior I think I’m fighting for? “Love you enemies.” That was Jesus’ command. In What’s so Amazing about Grace?, Phillip Yancey says, “Who is my enemy? The abortionist? The Hollywood producer polluting our culture? The politician threatening my moral principles? The drug lord ruling my inner city? If my activism, however well-motivated, drives out love, then I have misunderstood Jesus’ gospel. I am stuck with law, not the gospel of grace… Jesus declared that we should have one distinguishing mark: not political correctness or moral superiority, but love.”
Does that hit you the way it hit me? Because I have not always loved my enemies. I have maligned them. I have not just voted against them—with my ballot and my wallet—but I have allowed myself at times to be filled with venom toward those people, the ones who want to kill babies and lead young people astray. I have spewed vitriolic insults toward them. I confess, I have hated them.
But Jesus tells me to love them. They are lost, and yes, they are wrong, and yes, they have a lot of power. So I will continue to work against them, but I will try my best to love them. Because even that guy—the one you’re thinking about right now, the one who represents to you the epitome of evil and sin in society—even he is a child of God. Loved and desperate for redemption.
How about you? Have you ever found yourself hating your political enemies?
Do you find it difficult to think about loving them?
Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. She is the author of two books, Faith House and One Christmas Eve, both Christmas stories. Read excerpts and find out more at her website.