I was having a perfectly wonderful conversation with the Lord a few days ago. I had been reflecting on some scriptures about revival and spiritual awakening, and I was talking it through with Him. Then in the middle of that very satisfying quiet time, something awkward and awful happened: I saw my own sin.
Quite unexpectedly the Holy Spirit lifted my spiritual sunglasses and revealed that I have been harboring enmity and bitterness in my life. I realized that I hate the President of the United States. In my heart, I suspect he is actually a lonely, frustrated and unhappy individual, but I feel no sympathy or even pity- only resentment. It was a surprising and humiliating discovery. I am a hater.
I had noticed that over the last four years I have become more passionate about politics than usual. In fact, I tend to turn off the TV whenever the President appears. Sometimes I toss a quick insult at him before flipping the switch, explaining it to myself as “concern for America.” On numerous occasions, my wife has said, “Honey, you really hate the man. That’s not healthy.” But I have always excused my rants and bitterness: “I just hate what he’s doing to the country!” Sometimes it almost felt like righteous indignation, but it was more complex than that. I was harboring hatred for the man himself.
Needless to say, I am still concerned that President Obama is wrecking the republic and driving a wedge between Americans. But being unable to countenance someone’s image on TV suggests a great deal of fear. No matter how malign an opponent’s policies may be; no matter how vast his political influence may be, am I justified in being fearful? Of course not: Scripture insists that we should not be afraid of men. Believers must have confidence in Christ and reverence for his holy purposes. What kind of spiritual warrior fears what men can do?
I have confessed this sin to the Lord, and I am genuinely ashamed. Hatred among the saints is an affront to the Almighty. In the pulpit, I always attempt to project this transcendental image of ever rising above politics. But I still worry about what I have privately conveyed to those who know me best. Most likely, I have implied that hate is okay when you’re talking about politics. Of course, that’s not true.
I will need to pray about this for a while, because I’m sure this sin is deeply rooted by now. It will not be easily removed, but I will be diligent. I will ask God to help me. In the meantime, I will speak more compassionately about the President and will read his autobiography in hopes of better understanding him. I will continue support his political opponents and strongly oppose many of his policies and priorities, but I will strive to love him as an individual. And I will pray for him, something I should have been doing already.
Someone said, “Well, you don’t have to actually love him,” but I do. Jesus commands us to love enemies as well as friends. President Obama is a political foe, but he’s still a human being I am commanded to love. Even if he were violently persecuting the Church, we would be obligated to love him.
Getting too passionate about politics does more than enable me to hate certain people. It also suggests that I believe what our country really needs is more conservative politicians. Ha! What our nation really needs is spiritual renewal and a Christian awakening. Nothing else can save us. But that will only come when we in the church stop talking about politics, sports or the bad economy 24/7 and begin to talk to God about our sins and His Vision for our land.
But this is not a rebuke to the Church by any means. This is a confession. There is no excuse for hatred, not even patriotism.
Lift up the Cross!