Today, I am thankful for the opportunity to watch a second acceptance speech made by President Barack Obama.
R and I were on opposite ends of the spectrum for this election. As we talked this morning, we discussed what it would take for the Republican Party to recover from consecutive presidential losses and a growing majority of voters made up of minorities, single women, young people, and non-theists.
The answer, in my eyes, is Jesus.
If you look at Jesus’ ministry, he wasn’t interested in aligning himself with the religious leaders of the day or, necessarily, with the ruling majority. Instead, his message was revolutionary!
Jesus preached love, community, and forgiveness. He boldly went out and told everyone he met:
You are important, you are loved, you are worthwhile. You deserve care, protection, forgiveness, and love.
Jesus didn’t do this by turning a blind eye to sin. Far from it! He solidly repeated God’s truth, upheld the law, and encouraged everyone he came across to repent and be reborn. But he accomplished this by loving people in their current circumstance. Beggar, thief, tax collector, prostitute, soldier, Jew, Gentile… His message remained the same: You are loved by the Father.
As I look back at the conduct of some politicians this election season, I see people who have forgotten Jesus’ message. Rather that spreading love, they have spread hate. Because of their actions, the words “conservative” and “Christian” have become dirty words, synonymous with class warfare and distain for women, minorities, and gays. Rather than protecting people, they tried to protect ideas. Unfortunately, some of those ideas do not align with Jesus’ message.
Matthew 5:14-16 (Message) says this:
You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept! […] Be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
If Christians are to bring out the God-colors of the world, what kind of God do we want them to see? One full of hate or love? Of judgment or acceptance? Of attack or protection?
I believe that Christians have the ability to live for Christ while still protecting the autonomy of the individual. I can only be responsible for how I choose to use my body, how I choose to live, and how I choose to pass these values on to my children. I hope that my words and actions show Little K a woman that values people, regardless of their gender, class, sexuality, or reproductive choices.
Any candidate, regardless of party affiliation, who vows to lead our country this way will have my vote. I am already praying for the 2016 election and for the person who will become president after Barack Obama. How about you?
But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw [Jesus] eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous but those who know they are sinners.”
Then [Jesus] stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Learn to do what is right! Promote justice! Give the oppressed reason to celebrate! Take up the cause of the orphan! Defend the rights of the widow! Come, let’s consider your options, says the Lord. Though your sins have stained you like the color red, you can become white like snow.
[Christ] didn’t and doesn’t wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. […] God put His love on the line for us by offering His Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatsoever to Him.
One of the religious scholars came up […] he put in his questions: “Which is most important of all the commandments?” Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Love the Lord God with all your passion and pray and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend.’ And its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that! I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to wam and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is Grow Up! You’re kingdom subject, now live like it! Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are My disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again!