Last week was election week. Everyone was abuzz discussing politics, various issues, and the different candidates.
As I watched a news program reviewing the election results, I noticed religious values were part of the conversation. Religion and politics have been linked for quite a while in this country (check out Robert Putnam’s recent book for a in-depth look at this connection), so this didn’t surprise me.
What did strike me was how religious folks (and specifically Christians) were portrayed.
Christians were portrayed as being…
Against stem-cell research.
Against birth control.
I noticed a theme: Christians today are often known for what we are against.
I think this is a big problem. Being against something might be a good strategy for ‘rallying the troops’ in a time of war. But I don’t think it does a whole lot for sustaining a movement, or effecting positive change in the world. If I am thinking about joining a group, I’m not as interested in knowing what they are against. I want to know what they are for.
Jesus said Christians should be known for their love.
Let me set the stage: Jesus is in Jerusalem, and he is having one final meal with his followers before he is arrested and ultimately killed. He is giving them his final words and instructions. These are the things he wants to make sure his followers understand. And this is what he says:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (Jn 13:34-5).
As Christians, we should be known by our love.
But this doesn’t always happen, does it?
Turn on a cable news program. Instead of being known by our love, Christians are often recognized by what we are against.
Why are Christians against so many things? Sometimes I wonder if focusing on what we are against hurts our ability to love.
Action Step: Keep track of your thoughts and words for one day. How many of the things you think and talk about reflect your love for others? How many of the things you think and talk about reflect what you are against?