About a month ago I was reading my daily devotion and it was about LOVE. That word in Christianity is a simple word but it holds so many different levels and understanding. The devotion talked about how even though sometimes a person may have wronged you, that forgiveness is the right response and that you have to love your enemies.
This isn’t something new to me. I grew up with these principles. I believe in them. Jesus Christ preached it. He loved and forgave those who ended capturing Him and crucifying Him. He showed the way to love.
But that made me think about something. Who actually are my enemies? My arrogant self made me think that there is no possible way for anyone not to like me. That means I must not have any enemies, right?
No. I had to dig deeper. I started to think about who I would consider my enemies. Not people hating me, but people I was hating.
I soon realized that there was one thing that boiled my blood and got me upset a lot. Politics.
But to be specific, it is what has spawned with the election of Donald Trump.
Here is the thing. I don’t care about politics. I think politics is a waste of time. I don’t subscribe to any political party. I don’t care at all.
But even though I don’t follow any political websites or their social media feeds, I see a lot of news from the White House (and the aftermath around the country). It’s disturbing. It’s horrible. And that’s what gets me upset. That’s what gets me angry. It’s Trump lying, discrimination and putting in action a lot of hurtful and hateful things. It’s his supporters who agree with these things. It’s the people who are so dedicated to their liberal or conservative side they start insulting others with terms like “snowflake” and “triggered.” It’s those people who relish in the misery of other people just because their views are different and things aren’t going their way.
What sucks is that I know people who are just like that. They believe all that. They go on social media and mock the people who have a different political point of view. They call each other names. They are just hateful.
Some of these same people also claim to be Christians.
This is where I start to wonder about myself as a Christian. Sure, I am not going out on social media or in public mocking others for having a different political view than me. Well, I can’t because I have no political affiliation. But I also know that what Trump has done has angered me many times. And I start to have an anger towards those people who agree with him. Or even those who don’t but insult the other side. My heart was filled with hate.
It made me understand that I had many enemies — including the president himself. The reason why is because even though these people have no reason to hate me, I have created many reasons to hate them. And over what? Something I don’t even care about. (I am not disregarding that these things aren’t important. But damn, it’s ugly what we’ve made it.)
So if these super political people and the president (along with his administration) are causing me to hate, then I in fact do have enemies. And I have not done what Jesus called me to do with my enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. — Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
That was from Jesus. He called us to love our enemies. He called us pray for those who persecute us. This of course isn’t easy. But by doing this, I am sharing and spreading the love just as my Savior Jesus showed me.
So that means I love Donald Trump, his administration and all his supporters who anger me.
That means I pray for Donald Trump, his administration and all those people who anger me.
Love isn’t just for my neighbors. Love is for them and those who are not my neighbors. Even though I disagree and dislike many things they have done, I cannot be filled with hate. No mocking. No bad thoughts. I must not have that. Jesus showed us that we can love those who wrong us.
Pastor Nicky Gumbel (whose devotion inspired this post) shares this, “Love is more than a feeling or an emotion. It is a decision about how we treat one another. Jesus was the supreme example of love in the history of the world. He tells us to love God, to love one another (John 13:34-35), to love our neighbour as ourselves and even to love our enemies. He demonstrates all this in his own life through loving everyone (even Judas who betrayed him), and laying down his life for us all in love.”
Man, that sounds great. But also, that sounds so tough. I would hesitate and think twice about laying down my life for someone I don’t like. Heck, even if I had the chance to meet Trump, or one of his cabinet people or even one of his major supporters, I don’t know how I would react. Would I be kind or would I ignore them? It’s not easy. It’s not supposed to be.
But here is what I can do to help myself to love as Jesus called me to do (even through all the disagreements). Let me pray for Trump and his people. I want to pray that they make the right decisions, say the right things and do the right things for the betterment of this country. I will also pray for peace and unity among the liberals and conservatives, that they stop mocking one another. I pray for people like me who hold it in and at many times don’t know what the right course of action is. I pray for our country and our world, coming to God asking for His blessing.
I also know that I must love. I must no longer hold hate in my heart. My dislike and disagreements remain, but my heart must be of love. I don’t desire the worst for my enemy. But instead, I must desire the best. Because if that happens, that means good things will come to our country.
And all of this is only possible if I keep everything centered in the love of Christ. Jesus showed us what love is all about.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” — John 13:34-35 (NIV)
I wouldn’t call myself a Christian if I refuse to follow what Jesus called us to do. After all, we all have been the enemies of Jesus and He still loved us to the point where He died for us. We were called to love God and love all of God’s people. I got one down. The other is a little tougher. With the strength of God, I can work towards loving everyone — including my enemies.
You may or may not agree with me or this view point. You have your reasons and I understand. But please do not hesitate to open a dialogue with me about it. I want to be able to learn more.
My Christian faith comes down to this foundation and I will hold on to it during these troubling times: Love God and love God’s people. And God’s people includes the president and major political people. If God can love them, then I can try to do the same. How can I call myself a Christian if I don’t?