Dear Partners in Mission:
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies…”
Today is election day across our territory and nation. Many have already voted, others like me will vote today. By tonight our TVs, social media, radios, and every other way we communicate will be filled with election results and pundits telling us what they believe this means. Some will rejoice and celebrate. Others will be deeply concerned and even fearful. In many cases we will have to be patient and wait as mail in ballots are counted. And in other cases we will hear cries that the election is a fraud if the results do not match a desired outcome.
Into all this we have Jesus’ words for us from Luke’s gospel in last week’s lectionary. The blessings and the woes, which fit perfectly into a law and gospel hermeneutic, ending with his admonition to “love your enemies.” It would appear, given the state of the political and economic landscape in our nation that Jesus is exceptionally naive. And it is also clear that many who claim to be disciples of this Jesus, from all political ideologies, have no intention of fulfilling this command. Yet there it is. A challenge to the baptized who claim to follow Christ and his teachings that if taken seriously speaks a word of law to us all.
The law tells the truth about our reality and the reality is that our identity as baptized followers of Christ often takes a backseat to other economic, social, political identities. Some of this is our own choice, ways we understand ourselves to be in the world. Sometimes it is a label placed upon us by others, usually in an effort to marginalize and make us the “other” or even the enemy. And the reality is in our sin we all participate in it and the systems that support it. The challenge for us then, when faced with this truth, is how we respond.
The blessings and woes of Luke’s gospel remind us that in Jesus’ economy those who the world would not and has not blessed are in fact blessed. This corresponds directly with the song his mother Mary sang, The Magnificat, when she learned she would bear God into the world. God who looks for and lifts up the lowly and the marginalized. Those whom our economic, social, and political systems too often overlook and in some cases actively oppress.
As the results of the election come in tonight and we hear our leaders speak, I pray that Jesus’ command will impact their speech. However, in our deeply divided times I fear that will not be the case. Despite that, we as followers of Jesus can temper our thoughts and words. Holding strong beliefs and speaking for those but also choosing how we speak of those with whom we disagree. Speaking also for justice, prioritizing those whom Jesus has commanded us to prioritize. In so doing we then choose to lead with our identity as baptized followers of Christ. Choosing, in a time when it is easy to demonize the other, to live counter culturally and love, serve, and lift up.
In Mission Together: