Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Loving Your Neighbor Politically

Several years ago I was posed a question from myself. "are you so interested in politics because you are convinced that conservative policies will make your life better, or are you generally interested in the welfare of people in general?" This question was troublesome for me. It caused me to realize that my answer was not the proper one in the context of my professed beliefs. It, of course, was a question of motivation, and as such, even if what I wanted was a good thing for myself and others, I realized that without the proper motivation I would be unable to have a positive impact. Also, the blinding effect that bad motivations would have on me could cause me to be led astray easily.

As I wrestled with this question I began to realize that politics had become personal with me. They had become about winning, period. And since no one ever really "wins" in politics, the next logical step was an embittered heart. This would lead to a heart filled and motivated by hatred, which was a state of being that I realized I must begin to fight against. We've all seen the cars laden with arrogant and hateful bumper stickers, making their proclamations against hate of course. (click here for better picture)I did not want to become like that. But such reveals a very real danger faced in all our hearts. With the original intentions-regardless of the political philosophy through which they are hoped-being "the betterment of mankind", men are able to justify a darkened and hate filled heart because of the ends those intentions hope to achieve.

Such a problem is understandable for the non-Christian because of his lack of a reference point, outside of himself, from which to judge good and evil. But for the Christian it is evidence of his failing to fight the good fight in the war that is constantly being waged between the members of his body and the law of his mind.1

All of this said, I am no less adamant about politics. In fact, in many ways I have become even more adamant, for how can I love my neighbor and not want for him the best system of government under which to conduct his life. The person not interested in politics beyond government hand-outs does not "love" his neighbor-a reality that would come as quite a shock to his sensibilities were they not dulled by hatred or indifference. This is because those "hand-outs" come at a higher price than the actual hand-outs he is receiving. They are but a decoy which obscure other socially and economically destructive policies that are causing our neighbors more suffering. This results in a self-perpetuating need for even more hand-outs while obscuring even more destructive policies.

As a Christian I am commanded to love my neighbor. This necessarily includes making an impact on the policies adopted by our government. It also necessarily excludes actions, regardless of the goodness of the goals, propelled by improper motivations.

(1.) Rom 7:21-2521 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. NIV

8 comments:

Kathy said...

Danny, I feel we as Christians are being more challenged than ever in this arena. Even I, your non-politcal wife found myself expressing myself quite strongly to a friend whose own mouth was uttering what I felt were truly absurd ideas about this administration, etc. etc. etc. My own iron is being sharpened by the iron of my brothers and sisters in the Lord, and I hope I survive! : ) Yikes, true colors come out at the oddest times. Oh, to be like Jesus, wise yet harmless. Selfless, and living for an eternal purpose. I know this may be a bit of a rabbit trail off of your post's main idea, but I'm sure you understand. We'll talk later!

Nancy said...

"Oh, to be like Jesus, wise yet harmless. Selfless, and living for an eternal purpose."

Harmless... doesn't always mean without offence...Being like Jesus means revealing truth...sometimes that is offensive, but can be the answer to loving your neighbor as your self, by doing unto other as you would have done unto you...bringing truth to light, so that life may rule.

Kathy said...

Because I think Bethany would want to speak for herself I deleted the comment-was accidentally logged in as our oldest!

o.k. take two-

Nancy, my fear in using the word "harmless" was in that someone would mistake it for spineless, not taking a stand. etc. To clarify I would say, being like Jesus in motivation. Is truth offensive? Yes it is, quite often. And Jesus did not shirk back, nor should we, in speaking the truth. It's the motivation that's the clincher. Only He can change a wrongly motivated heart.

Nancy said...

Amen...the world though is so quick to think of Jesus as a non-offensive. And, that as Christians, we should take His example and avoid ALL appearance of conflict, being sure to extend sloppy agape to all...

Kathy said...

I couldn't disagree with the world more, Nancy. Great conversation for me to have with you, so thanks for the words!

Larry Durham said...

Dan, thought provoking as usual.

I fervently pray that I can be a light for Christ...even to the guy driving that Prius! My next door neighbors are atheist liberals...and I've longed given up arguing with them...they're too far gone. So, I've decided to do everything I can to show them "Jesus with skin on". I pray that, before it's too late, the scales will fall from their eyes...and that my testimony will have helped mitigate their awakening.

Dan said...

Larry

I have painted people into corners logically and found them to be very slippery. I was left with the conclusion that, since reason is not sufficient, then it must be a spiritual battle. Have you read my "modern debating" in my favorite posts to the right?--->

4simpsons said...

Provocative post. I always go back to the agape definition of love, which is to have the long term best interests of someone in mind. Not a pampering, indulgent love, but something that aims at their true good. That should be foundational for having our religious views influence our political views.