“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:16–21 (ESV)
Our nation has entered a period of unprecedented public hatred, malice and slander. This election season saw – on both sides – fiction and half-truth reported as fact; breeding fear; strong partisanship that demonized the opponent and anyone who sided with them; biased stereotypes and an overall attitude of “if you don’t agree with me, you don’t deserve to live.” I’d like to say it was all heathens out there doing this; but I can’t. Many have been spewing hate in Jesus’ name. Let’s be clear: hate and malice and slander (bearing false witness) and stirring up strife to fabricate divisions; all these things are tools of the devil and do not belong in God’s children. Of course, through our sinful desires, we have a susceptibility to regress to these methods: For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:3–5)
Notice: we were foolish like that. But, with the Holy Spirit in us, we have been washed and renewed and are to live like that no longer. Jesus tells us: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:19) Now, if you think that gets you off the hook with all those people on the “other” side, all of THEM—whomever you define the “other” to be; remember, Jesus also said: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44–45).
Love your neighbor, love your enemies – love everyone. It doesn’t mean you agree with everyone; that would be impossible. But it does mean that each person bears the image of God and deserves to be treated in dignity and love. No matter what comes out of their mouth; no matter what their actions; no matter whether you approve of their opinions or actions: treat them with God’s love. You can’t dismiss whole categories of people with simplistic stereotypes. Every person bears the image of God and every person deserves to be treated with dignity.
We are to love each person as God loves. We can’t do it wrapped up in our own pride or insecurities. We must love as God’s children should love. Our confidence, our strength, our courage must come from our identify at God’s children. It doesn’t come from our political alignments or whoever is or is not president. Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)
Friends, this world desperately needs the love of Jesus. This world desperately needs the people of God to show the love of God, to walk as children of the light, to let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)