Should We Love Our Politicians?

I was thinking about Matthew, the tax collector, the other day, and how the Lord selected an unpopular worker to be His disciple. And how well Matthew justified His choice. As usual, the Lord showed His freedom from prejudice in giving his servant the chance that he never dreamed of, one that changed his life, and our lives as we read his gospel. The Sermon on the Mount, that most radical testament to Christian conviction, commands us to love our enemies, which must be one of the most difficult instructions ever issued. We are obliged to banish the ‘eye for an eye’ impulse and confront one of the greatest spiritual challenges of our lives. And although politicians are not necessarily our enemies per se, the instruction includes our attitude towards them.

I must admit that there are certain people who make my toes curl, whose presence on the TV ruins my day. ‘You lying cheat’, I think judgementally, and if I were Shakespeare I would shout ‘avaunt’. But we belong to a rational and charitable faith and clearly cannot continue as we are. Many politicians are the modern equivalents of the unregenerate Matthew, out for their own advancement, but we know from the Writings that the Lord can use these flawed folk for the good of mankind. We can judge their actions on the surface but are not able to separate the wheat from the chaff, which constitute the internal man or woman. So we are obliged to operate on the benefit of the doubt.

The Lord can use their mediate good for His own ends; we don’t necessarily see the whole picture. Politics is known to practice ‘the art of the possible’ so those who enter the fraught profession are not entirely free agents. They are forced to follow the dictates of the party line that skews their actions, especially in emerging nations like ours in South Africa. You pay a heavy price for stepping out of line, and death threats are not uncommon.

We must also examine our attitude towards love. It is not always a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling, but a desire that inclines us to pray for the other, and wish him or her well. Love is also a verb – we can will ourselves to be positive and charitable. Pope Francis said recently that this gospel is an invitation for Christians to take a moment before passing judgement on others and to follow the example of Jesus’ mercy to sinners. ‘We too judge others in our hearts, don’t we? Are we corrupt? Or not yet? Let us stop and look to Jesus who always judges with mercy: “Neither do I condemn you” He says, “Go in peace and sin no more.”

We may criticize external actions even as we pray for politicians, and wish them well, for to love is truly to wish the other well.

And we can always turn off the TV.

About Verna Brown

Verna Brown was born in the north of Scotland in 1942 and followed the sun with her parents and grandmother to Durban, South Africa in 1948. She joined the New Church at 20, and was married to Kenneth Brown in 1964 in the Musgrave Road Church. They have 4 married children and 8 grandchildren. Verna has a DLitt et Phil degree, as well as a further degree in education. She has taught and lectured, and loves her lively Sunday School class at Buccleuch in Gauteng (Transvaal) as well as the classes she offers in her own home for U3A (the University of the Third Age: i.e. retirees). She looks forward to contributing to New Christian Woman as a mature (?) member. Greetings to you all.

4 thoughts on “Should We Love Our Politicians?

  1. Short, sweet and refreshing. Thank you for sharing this reflection. It sure can be tough to pray for those who make our toes curl. Thank you for the reminder that Providence is working even in those in power who seem to be causing only harm.

  2. Good stuff, Verna!! Thank you for this perspective — I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, that we need to love and pray for our everyone, including our ‘enemies’ . I’ve had the experience in my life, lately, in which a fully-grown woman has acted in childish ways – giving people the silent treatment, taking our words of concern and contorting them to imply that we’re making accusations, uttering threats against people who disagree with her (non-violent threats, to be sure, but threats nonetheless); I’m fortunate to be removed from the immediate situation right now, which definitely helps (!), and when I think or hear about her and her actions, I’m able to feel sympathy for her, that she’s acting in such unproductive ways. So, yes, when we see and hear slimy politicians spewing their ridiculous speech, we can disagree with any wrong statements or actions, and still pray for them, that they might see the light and recognise the errors of their ways.

    Thanks for this reminder; much appreciated. 🙂

  3. Thank you Verna. Your perspective is one I have come to as well. Not only is it more charitable but I find I am less distraught.

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