Sometimes, it’s hard to love.
At church today we continued learning about loving others. As the pastor put it, Jesus commands us to extend the “heavyweight” kind of love, rather than the “lightweight” kind the world does. He spoke of the kind of love that turns the other cheek and returns love for hate. There’s a “platinum rule” at play: treat others not just as we want to be treated, but as Jesus treated us. ‘Others’ means everyone. Even the rude person in the drive-through line or the student who purposely excluded your kid from an activity. Or even the political candidate you really, really dislike.
Wow. That hit me hard. It should probably hit you, too, if you have posted or retweeted or gossiped hateful trash-talk about the candidate who isn’t going to get your vote. If you are a follower of Christ, loving others is non-negotiable.
How can we love a candidate that we “love” to hate? That’s the mystery, isn’t it? Christians don’t love out of our own capacity. God himself gives us the capacity to love, if we will let him. Does God love Donald Trump? Absolutely! Does God love Hillary Clinton? Absolutely! Does loving someone mean you have to agree with them? Of course not.
So let’s talk about the HOW. I’ve been brainstorming this afternoon and present to you Five Ways To Love The Candidate You Are Predisposed To Hate:
- Put them on your heart: pray for them and ask God to change YOUR HEART towards Clinton/Trump. Ask for God to lead them and for the Holy Spirit to work in their lives.
- Assume the best. Don’t automatically hear about something Clinton/Trump said or did and assume it was said or done with malicious intent. The truth is, only God knows what is in a person’s heart. Why not assume the BEST of people, even if you disagree with them? Maybe when Trump said nice things about Putin, it wasn’t because he is secretly plotting to convert the United States into a dictatorship but rather because from his business perspective, Putin exhibits leadership. Maybe when Clinton says she has pneumonia she really does have pneumonia and isn’t “covering up” MS, Parkinson’s Disease, or the bubonic plague.
- Get to know them both. One of these people will be our next President. We’ll better know how to pray for them if we get to know them. Read one of their books. Learn about their lives. Read or watch their interviews. Try to stand outside yourself and find at least one redeeming quality in the candidate you can’t stand. Remember that it takes courage to get up in front of millions. Could YOU do it? What would people say about you if you did?
- Try to find common ground. There must be at least one thing that you and this candidate can agree on. Maybe you both grieve for 9-11. Maybe you both love America. Maybe you both think it’s a good idea to find ways to get the Big Pharma to lower the cost of your prescriptions or to modernize and improve the VA (HINT: both candidates want to do this). This may require that you read the website of the candidate you love to hate. And after you do all that, if you can’t find even one molecule to agree on, you can agree that we have the right to disagree.
- Don’t take it personally. Let go. Holding on to animosity and bitterness towards another person is toxic. It raises our blood pressure and twists our stomachs into knots. There’s nothing for it but to let it go. If Clinton/Trump gets elected, the world as we know it won’t end. The sun will continue to rise and set. And God will continue to lavish love on us all. He isn’t a Republican, and he isn’t a Democrat. He is Love.
So here’s hoping these next two months won’t be filled with bitterness on the part of Christians who are lobbying and campaigning for their candidate. Jesus tells us to love one another. The love we show others is the measuring stick the world uses against us.
34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” -John 13, NLT