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Friday, October 30, 2009

Why Can't We Love People When We Oppose What They Are Doing?

The Republicans hate the Democrats. The Democrats hate the Republicans. The liberals hate the conservatives. The conservatives hate them right back.

I suppose I should not be surprised that this is the world's way of dealing with opposition. I am amazed when it becomes the actions of Christians. The rhetoric spewed coming from Christians resembles hatred rather than love. Why can't we love people when we oppose their thinking?

I realize Christ had some pretty harsh words for the Pharisees. He called them names which were less than honorable. He sought to show the opposition of their religious thinking and His relationship with people. His contrast was given in Middle Eastern ways. It seems harsh to us. I think it was just part of the culture of the day. I think it is loving to get the attention of those whom you oppose if what they are doing will hurt them. It took this manner of speech to do so. Jesus said some things to Nicodemus which did not seem flattering. Nicodemus hears the message because of this speech.

I would rather physically restrain a person from jumping off of a bridge than say nice words to them which allows them to kill themselves. Jesus made these statements of and to the Pharisees. They were not used to it. I don't think they liked it but I don't think He lost His love for them.

Our problem is that we have forgotten to love first before we oppose. We demonize those whom we oppose with no love. We rejoice in any of their failures. We conveniently ignore their successes. We minimize the times they are right. We gossip about them. (Gossip definition: Saying the truth in order to hurt someone.) We seem justified in our slander. (Slander definition: Saying a lie in order to hurt someone.) We will forward emails about those we oppose without checking their veracity. Can we not see that this is not loving?

Jesus said we should pray for our enemies. These prayers are not that they will all die horrible deaths. These prayers are for their good. They may be that they can see our point of view. And they may also be that we can understand their point of view.

Love should be at the center of our objections even if they do not return love. The love that Jesus espoused was not a quid pro quo love. It did not require a like response. It was unmerited. People will be amazed if we can oppose them strongly while also loving them deeply.

This seems to be the theme seen in many movies. Two men are fighting until one slips off the edge of the cliff. The righteous one reaches down and pulls his opponent to safety. How many times have we wished he would stomp on his opponent's hands instead? Righteousness is embedded inside of us. Even Hollywood (generally) knows that revenge is not the action of a true hero.

Have you ever watched C-SPAN when the British leadership asks the Prime Minister questions? They always seem to call each other nice names before they make the most acerbic statements of each other. I don't know if this is disingenuous but I would rather we state our concern for each other while we are in opposition. I wish we would also express our love in some way before we clearly state our positions. We simply can't hate each other and still say we are doing the work of Christ.

How can we tell the world that we know the love of Christ when we show the world that we only love those who agree with us? The already like Jesus. Its the Christians that are giving them trouble. We should continue to love even if we do not agree with their lifestyles, their political positions or their opposition to us.

We will never argue people into God's kingdom. We will not simply give them enough information so they will join us. We will love people into the kingdom. The Holy Spirit and our love will change the coldest of hearts.

So, contiue to oppose those things which you do not think are right. And as you do so, let them know that you love them too.

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