“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil….” (Psalm 23:5a)
Virtually every Christian knows the 23rd Psalm, and we can identify over the last 4-12 years with walking through a dark valley: politico-social polarization where your enemies, those who disagree with your views, are living all around you.
In this dark valley, our Shepherd prepares a banquet table for us. He sets on that table “food for thought” because it takes renewed minds to produce transformed lives and truth to set us free. (Romans 12:2; John 8:31-32)
Please note: “food for thought” does not declare your present thinking is totally wrong. It simply invites you to reexamine your thinking from the Lord’s perspective.
As we move through the 2020 elections, including recounts and lawsuits, and move into the next four years under either presidential candidate, I invite us all to reexamine our thinking about some issues based upon (1) Christian unity and (2) agape love.
Christians are called to unity. (Ephesians 4:1-6) We are to love each other as Christ has loved us. (John 13:34-35) But the American church is deeply divided by politics. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13) Most black churches believe in the authority of scripture just like white evangelicals, but they cannot pray together for the nation because they are politically “them and us”. Mainline and liturgical churches experience this division within the same congregation, preventing a unity of purpose even at that smaller level.
A house divided cannot stand (Matthew 12:25) A divided house of prayer is double-minded and far less effective than a people of one mind and accord. (Matthew 18:19; 21:13; James 1:7-8; Philippians 2:1-4) If we want our heads anointed with oil, we must remember the anointing and its blessings are for brothers and sisters in unity. (Psalm 133)
Agape love is the fundamental principle of God’s Kingdom. Without it, we are nothing and gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) I am grateful for several achievements of President Trump and his team during his initial term, but he continually violates agape love by insulting and belittling everyone who opposes him. (Matthew 5:21-25, 43-48) His Democratic opponents are no better.
I can understand when a person who is not a practicing Christian behaves this way. But when practicing Christians cheer him and them on, they are rejoicing in the wrongdoing and both approving of and participating in the sin. (1 Corinthians 13:6; Romans 1:32) This grieves the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:30-32)
President Trump has also constantly boasted about himself. God opposes the proud, gives grace to the humble, and calls upon His people to love, revere, and boast in Him alone. (James 4:6-10; Jeremiah 9:23-24) Again, when Christians cheer the President on, they participate in this sin. I am concerned some, just as with President Obama, are putting their trust in princes rather than the Lord. (Psalm 118:8-9, 146:3)
Racism is also an agape love issue. We will always have a few people like Officer Chauvin, who killed George Floyd, and they can come in any color. (Ephesians 2:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-5 ) What the Church must help this nation address is the bystander problem: the three officers with him who failed to intervene and the superiors who overlooked Chauvin’s past transgressions.
It is not enough to sit in our largely segregated sanctuaries and declare we deplore racism. We must love in truth and deed through visible interracial relationships, ministries, and prayer gatherings, and an unflinching “shoulder to shoulder” stance against racism of every kind. (1 John 3:18; 1 Peter 2:9-10)
Sexuality is an agape love issue. The long-standing lack of unconditional love for homosexual people by some Christians may be what has motivated other Christians to show love, however misguided, and approve of their lifestyle. (Isaiah 5:20-21) But we no longer have a homosexuality issue. We have a LGBTQIA issue. Are we showing agape love to our children and grandchildren, or anyone, when we yoke ourselves to the declaration that “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, (Pansexual), Transgender, Queer, Intesexed, Agender and Asexual” are all godly, healthy choices? (Genesis 1:27; Romans 1:22-32; 2 Corinthians 6:14)
Lawlessness is an agape love issue – a path to destruction as opposed to paths of righteousness, particularly for a nation of laws like America. (Matthew 24:12; Romans 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:14) Free speech and assembly are good, but riots and looting are always lawless.
Illegal immigration is lawless, but in safer times long before the lawlessness of sanctuary cities, we had decades of lawless “look the other way” at our Mexican borders because our employers, particularly in agriculture, wanted good, cheap labor despite a 1965 law capping legal Mexican work permits. To not deal equitably with the millions of illegal Mexican immigrants we enticed here would be both unloving and unjust.
Finally, socialism and “income redistribution” are agape love issues. They replace freedom with government control, covet what belongs to others, deny people the fruit of their labor, and demotivate people who can work from working. (Exodus 20:17; Psalm 128:2; 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12) Would it not be better to achieve affordable healthcare and higher education through reductions in costs and compassionate aid to those who have done all they can and still need help? (Isaiah 58:6-8; 1 John 3:16-18)
Joshua saw a man from heaven and asked, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” (Joshua 5:13-14) The man said, “No.” He served the Lord, and so should we, on every issue and in all we do. (Colossians 3:17)
God bless you, and God bless our community.