Love in the Time of Elections

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As the upcoming elections draw nearer, our anxiety as a country grows accordingly. This past week several explosive devices were mailed to prominent people but fortunately were intercepted before they could do any harm. Except that they have harmed us. Our President calls for civility and an end to hatred and division but then continues to spread division and anger amongst his most fervent supporters at rallies. The internet is filled with unflattering images of candidates, often accompanied by falsely attributed statements or cruel, cutting comments. I suspect you have seen them. We all say that we have to do better, but it seems to me that comment usually means, “The ‘other side’ needs to be better; ‘my side’ is just fine.’”

There is a solution, of course; it’s just not the one we hear about the most. The solution doesn’t lie in winning elections or changing laws, in appointing judges or demanding Congressional investigations. The solution will not come through persuasive arguments or cutting remarks. We will not bring about a change of heart by changing the minds of those who disagree with us. The solution, as every Christian should know, is only and exactly what Jesus taught - love. Love of God, love of neighbor, love of our enemies, love of those with differing political views - this is the burden that Jesus lays upon his followers. It does not allow for exceptions, conditions, or reservations.

Love is simple in its being, but it is not always easy. It may not make us feel satisfied with the results, justified by its outcome, or even just better because we did it. None of those things is the point. Loving, especially when it requires something of us, reshapes us into the image of God stamped upon us at creation. It makes us more of the person we were created by God to be. It reveals the face of God to those around us. Love is the only power at our disposal that we cannot exhaust or misuse; it is, as Paul reminds us above, the only true debt we have, one which we owe not just to one another, but to the God who created us and taught us the meaning of love.