Friday, March 25, 2005

 

A Need For Compassion

"And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love..."

It's one of my favorite old hymns, and I pray to God it is true, but I suspect otherwise. Now before I delve into this issue, I want to take a step back and explain where I'm coming from in terms of my own worldview.

As a political conservative on most issues, particularly social ones, I am as concerned as I suspect most of you are regarding the coarsening of our culture. Abortion on-demand, an abundance of ultra-violent movies and videogames, and the attempts to remove God entirely from the public discourse and educational arena all play a crucial role in this.

In fact, the more I focus on it, the more angry and bitter I become. It instills in me a sense of outrage and even hostility toward the "secular left" who often promote this downward spiral through staunch support of the issues cited above.

However, while I believe we all have a duty to be politically engaged, I fear that politics has the potential to cause us to act and think in the exact opposite manner in which God has called us. We can become self-righteous and even hateful without realizing it. In essence, we risk becoming a modern day version of the Pharisees.

The following are some examples of how we can degenerate into hatefulness rather than love if we are not careful. This is from Randall Terry - former leader of Operation Rescue:

I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good ... if a Christian voted for Clinton, he sinned against God...

On the 700 Club on January 18, 1995, Pat Robertson suggested:
[Homosexuals] want to come into churches and disrupt church services and throw blood all around and try to give people AIDS and spit in the face of ministers. (Hat tip: Evangelical Outpost)

In an article from the Washington Post on 9/14/2001, the Rev. Jerry Falwell assigned blame for the 9/11 attacks, by asserting the following:

I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians... the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, "You helped this happen."

In an effort to make a point, I have admittedly cited extreme examples. But the sad reality is that the media, too, is always more than willing to cite these sorts of examples from Christians - over and over and over again.

This weekend in particular I am reminded of Christ's words nearly 2000 years ago. As he hung there, dying on the cross, facing an injustice far worse than any of us could ever fathom, he spoke these words - which are almost inexplicable: "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do."

In this vain, Jollyblogger wisely advises us to be careful of our thoughts and words regarding Michael Schiavo. The Upward Paradigm concurs as does Palm Tree Pundit. Parableman, too, offers some good advice regarding how we should approach those who do not share our beliefs when he states:
Christians have an obligation to reach out with the gospel. Starting instead with a political agenda based on particular sins tells people that we value labeling them in negative ways more than we value caring about them as people...

In What's So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey quotes Ron Sider who speculates:
Think of the impact if the first thing the homosexual community thought of when someone mentions evangelicals was that they were the people who lovingly ran the AIDS shelters and tenderly cared for them down to the last gasp. A little consistent wholesome modeling and costly servanthood are worth millions of true words harshly spoken.

The problem lying at the root of the deterioration of our values in this country is a hardening of the heart and a lack of compassion for the intrinsic value of life. Paradoxically, our political anger over the results stemming from this problem is only going to cause us to display this same type of hardened heart toward others.

Now more than ever, we need to heed Christ's words which call on us to act compassionately and lovingly toward our enemies. It is really the only option we have to be a lasting force of change for good in this world.

Comments:
Amen.

That's Ron Sider, by the way, not Ron Sidars. I know his son pretty well, so I'm a pretty good authority on the spelling of his name.
 
Apparently I have a need for spell checking names, too. Thanks Jeremy, it's corrected.
 
My thoughts exactly! I wrote along those same lines awhile back:
http://www.ninetyandnine.com/fblog/2005/01/christ-wasnt-street-corner-preacher.html
 
I agree totally. I was just thinking about this recently sitting in our faculty room listening to liberals discussing a topic and I wanted to jump in and give my "2 cents" when I realized I would not be portraying the love of Jesus if I did. What's more important ...sharing my political views or sharing the love of God?
 
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