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By Stephen N. Allred –

There was a time when I disliked a certain American President.  Strongly.  I ridiculed this man frequently and harbored strong feelings of disgust for him and his policies.   I found myself reading over-the-top email forwards disparaging this President and watching YouTube mash-ups of his many bungled speeches – and enjoying them, even when the email lacked credibility or the video portrayed him in what I knew to be a false light. If you asked me whether I had Christian love for him I would have told you that I did.  But my hateful feelings, vitriolic speech and unholy fascination with his political demise belied my profession.istockphoto

Then one day, a fellow Christian pointed out my hypocrisy.  She noted that I wasn't really practicing what I preached about loving my enemies and praying for the salvation of kings and government authorities as the Bible, which I claimed to believe, told me to do.  I was busted.

Christian Hate Speech

As I mingle with Christians these days I'm hearing a lot of hateful speech toward those on the "other side."  Angry, demeaning and sometimes untrue words are spoken, yet all is considered acceptable since it's ostensibly done for the cause of righteousness.

It's almost as though we have forgotten that we're supposed to love our enemies – including the politicians with whom we may disagree.  Instead, in some Christian circles, the greatest heroes are those who can heap the most insults on the President or a Senator who is viewed as an enemy.  The heroes are the ones who can create the most vitriolic email forwards – often based on just a thread of truth with a whole lot of speculation hanging on it.  And yet, I can't imagine Jesus being a participant in such endeavors.  It just doesn't seem to fit with what He taught or exemplified when He walked among us.

Healthy Debate Is Okay

Of course there is nothing wrong with disagreeing – even strongly – with the viewpoints of another.  God is all for freedom of speech and freedom of thought.  And in a democracy (or, to be more precise, a democratic republic, as we have here in America) engaging in hearty debate is healthy and necessary.  But the vitriol, the anger, the hatred – that's what troubles me.  Shouldn't Christians be better than that?

In fact, Christians are supposed to love their enemies And even treat them kindly.  Remember what Jesus said on this topic? "But love your enemies, and do goodand you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men." (Luke 6:35, NASB).

There's something else that gets me.  It's when I hear Christians damning the President or some politician to hell for their position on an issue.  But, as my friend reminded me, even if I disagree strongly with someone I'm a hypocrite if, first and foremost, I do not seek for the salvation of their soul.  And usually damning someone to hell from afar doesn't win them over to your side.  Again, notice the Apostle Paul's words:

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."  (1 Tim 2:1-4, ESV – emphasis mine).

 

Do We Love the Truth Anymore?

Along with loving our enemies we Christians are called to love the truth.  Even when that truth may go contrary to our favorite talk show host's version of the facts.

It hit me the other day that America is fast becoming a place where even Christians seem to value winning the argument, political or otherwise, over actually discovering what's right.  In other words, it seems like we really don't love truth; we just like whatever "facts" we can find to prove our point or make us feel good.  And these days, it's easier than ever to create your own version of the facts.  You just say it loud enough, often enough and people start to believe you.  Hey, you even start to believe it yourself, especially if you refuse to listen to any conflicting opinions.

People on both sides of the issues seem to be experts at slanting the facts, coloring a story or outright lying so that it bolsters their side.  Email forwards, YouTube videos and Facebook pictures all are used to proclaim half-truths and even bold lies about certain politicians or their agenda.  Not to mention the half-truths and innuendo promoted on many TV talk shows and talk radio programs.

What is troubling is that instead of researching the truth of these assertions, many Christians push the forward button and in so doing continue to spread the lies.  Our better judgment may tell us not to do it but we let our disgust for the politician overcome our love for the objective truth.

Why All This Bothers Me

The Bible talks about two things happening before Jesus returns.  First, Jesus predicted that "Evil will spread and cause many people to stop loving others."  (Matthew 24:12, CEV).  Jesus was right.  Evil and hatred spread easily and quickly.  I've noticed that it doesn't stop with you just hating the politician; pretty soon anyone who likes that politician is also on your black list.   Christians who used to be friends let their political differences divide them from each other and keep them from loving the unsaved on the "other side."

Some will point out that Jesus Himself had some pretty sharp words to say to the religious and political leaders of His time, calling them snakes and hypocrites.  And that is true.  However, as one who knew the hearts of all whom He rebuked, Jesus never misjudged or falsely accused as I often do.  And I can't imagine the One who preached love and was the embodiment of that love speaking those rebukes with anything but compassion and tears in His voice.  He even prayed for the ones nailing Him to the cross.

What is the other thing that the Bible predicts?  The Apostle Paul warned that there would be a trend where people would drift away from loving truth to loving whatever makes them feel good.  "Lost people," he noted, "could be saved, but they will refuse to love the truth and accept it.  So God will make sure that they are fooled into believing a lie.  All of them will be punished, because they would rather do evil than believe the truth."  (2 Thess. 2:10-12, CEV).

Could the drift away from loving the truth begin when we forward the link to a YouTube video that we know might have some half-truths?  Or when we refuse to listen to any opinions or facts except those that bolster our own preconceptions? Usually, it's not the big, obvious lies that beguile us but participating in the small concessions to error that lead us down the road to self-deception.

I'm Still Growing

I can't say I've arrived yet.  I still have a hard time loving some politicians (and other people, too).  I catch myself tuning folks out when I learn they represent a political viewpoint different from my own.  But I want to love all people and I want to learn the truth – even if it hurts my cherished opinions or ideas.

As a Christian, Jesus calls me to nothing less than to love honesty and truthfulness and to love all people, politicians included, like He did.

Stephen N. Allred is the pastor of the Yuba City Seventh-day Adventist Church and a member of the California Bar Association.  He frequently writes for ReligiousLiberty.TV and is a member of the advisory panel. He also maintains the SacredConscience.com website.

 
 

9 Comments

  1. Frank Z. says:

    >Some will point out that Jesus Himself had some
    >pretty sharp words to say to the religious and
    >political leaders of His time, calling them snakes
    >and hypocrites. And that is true.

    Are you sure? Yes, Jesus addressed the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders, who also possessed some political power. He was mainly addressing their spiritual misrule. But where did He speak the same towards a Roman governor or ruler?

    I think we need to be careful here, because it is Satan's character to rebel against authorities. We don't want to confuse Christ's kingdom with Satan's.

    But where there is usurped authority over conscience, then it is a matter of man putting himself in the place of God in spiritual matters. That is different, and the spiritual misrule can and should be resisted and rebuked.

  2. Rich DuBose says:

    I greatly appreciate your thoughts and reflections!

    Ever since the first disciple was made there has always been a degree of tension between believers and non-believers. The believers feel called to proselytize and share their faith, but often the non-believers dont want to hear it. So theres this awkwardness between these two groups. And Jesus told His disciples, dont be surprised if the world hates you, because it hated me first.

    But, as you so aptly point out, today were faced with an aggressive, in your face form of Christianity where Christians use guerrilla tactics to try and force their points of faith. The dominate Evangelical attitude seems to be, we are no longer content to be the salt of the earth, or a city on a hill. Were going to reform politics, culture, entertainment, and the entire U.S. economic system. Were going to have 'dominion over the land,' and put God back in our schools and courts, and mandate that everyone keep the Ten Commandments–whether they believe in God or not.

    The danger is that Christians may become so obnoxious and hateful that it impossible for them to win people's hearts through their simple faith and love.

    Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." That doesn't mean we have to roll over and play dead regarding political and moral concerns, but we need to take a less abrasive, offensive approach, and realize that our primary mission is not to try and sanitize the world, but to point earth's weary travelers to the only One who can heal their broken hearts. Sorry, I got carried away! You hit a nerve, and I am passionate about this!

    Thanks again for sharing–and may your tribe increase!

  3. Nicole says:

    At Frank Z.

    Considering that Jesus himself rebelled against the authorities of the Jewish leaders and even to the Roman government themselves, we can safely assume it is not a satanic trait to rebel against authority. Jesus was told to recant his tales of being the son of God by both religious and government authorities, and he refused. That's called rebelling. He went into a Temple and started whipping and yelling at the people defacing the house of the lord with money dealings. That's called rebelling. So your accusation of rebellion being a trait of Satan is unfounded.

 
 
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