How to Love Your [Political] Enemies
“In the end, we LOVE people into belief. We do not argue them into belief.” – Tim Keller
The political season seems to bring out the worst in all of us and on both sides of the proverbial fence. No one ever wins or changes another’s mind when spewing hate online. Hate does not overcome hate. Love does. God requires of us two things; to love him and to love others. So, how can we, as Christ followers, help bridge the great divide and overcome the daily challenge of loving one another? Especially, in a contentious, political season.
We start by aligning our hearts and minds with God’s. By spending time in His presence, our human perspective evolves to an eternal one. And when we love God with all of ourselves – mind, body, strength, and spirit, we begin to view others, not as enemies, but as God’s beloved. Loving the unloveable isn’t easy. Matter of fact, it promises to be incredibly challenging. And at times, seemingly impossible!? But nothing worth achieving ever comes easy.
Loving others as God does requires diligent practice and a deep commitment. Here are three practical ways to tackle the greatest challenge ever set before us—loving one another!
- Viewing others as God does through a lens of understanding.
By viewing our adversaries story, their unique perspective, their plight, their brokenness, through a lens of understanding, we learn compassion. And grace. We, ourselves, become more Christlike and we begin to view others as God does. Not as perfect individuals, groups, or political parties but as a vastly imperfect, broken people. A species in desperate need of a Savior—the human race.
the Challenge: Seize opportunities in your everyday relationships to build bridges. Seek out those whose opinions differ from yours and dive deep into learning their story.
2. Weeping, grieving, and praying for wounded souls.
Charles Spurgeon perfectly stated “Winners of souls must first be weepers of souls.” Sadly, some of the loudest voices online are self-proclaiming Christians. But if as Christ followers we’re not weeping for souls and grieving the wounds of all people groups, God’s Word says we are merely “a clanging symbol.” Further, we bring harm to the work of the body of Christ. The life-giving work of salvation should be our biggest concern and our words and deeds in real-life action are our biggest, most powerful indicator pointing towards a loving God. Praying for others is paramount in learning to love others as God does and key to achieving lasting peace on earth!
the Challenge: Make a list of at least three people or people groups whom you view as adversarial and commit to praying for them for an extended period of time.
3. Holding every thought captive and understanding who the real enemy is. [Spoiler Alert: Your enemy isn’t your biggest adversary or even an opposing political party!?]
Thoughts predetermine actions. So, holding our thoughts captive is extremely important, if we want our actions to preach God’s love. God‘s desire for our thought life is to consume ourselves with His goodness. Things which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8). When our thoughts are filled with His goodness, our responses and reactions will begin to reflect a loving God— full of mercy, compassion, justice, and righteousness.
The biggest ailment of society, today, isn’t a political party, adversary, or even a differing school of thought, but it is the absolute failure to recognize who the real enemy is? Satan floods our minds with mis-construed “truths” and lies in an effort to derail our mission; to love God and love others. In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter warned the first century Christians…
“Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone whom he can devour.”
And this truth remains, today! The enemy wants to divide us in order to destroy us. Separated from that which binds us—God’s love, we become distracted and fall prey to the enemy’s deceptions.
the Challenge: Identify ways Satan has lied or deceived you in the past regarding yourself or an adversary and then craft a plan for redirecting your thoughts.
I have to say, redirecting my thoughts is the number one way I implement the Love Challenge in my daily life. When I change my thought patterns and the way I view challenging people, I begin to view them as God does. And I begin to love them, accordingly. My emotions are no longer the boss of me and I’m no longer captive to my reactions. Instead, my thoughts are filled with the amazing gentleness and grace of God. I no longer fathom speaking unkind words or committing unkind deeds. I begin to see only human plight and suffering. I see challenging situations or circumstances versus adversaries and enemies.
Through this daily challenge, I learn to choose weeping over gnashing, truth over lies, and goodness over evil, and love over hate.
“To be so FULL of God’s love, I could not fathom speaking an unkind word or committing an unkind deed.” That is my quest, join me!? 💕