The Politics of Love

Modern political theory (and this is an exaggeration!) tends to be mostly about how to do the least possible harm to the fewest number of people. It assumes that, without some type of political order, chaos will reign and we’ll be at each other’s throats. The Christian doctrine of the Fall has no doubt contributed to this view, along with no shortage of experiencing people being jerks to one another.

I want to submit, however, that for the Christian, this is completely short-sighted. I believe that the Gospel lived and proclaimed by Jesus is inherently political in its call to love neighbor and enemy.

I do not propose that this is a politics for society as a whole, because it is a politics that assumes discipleship to Jesus. Not everyone is a disciple of Jesus in our society, so imposing my politics on them is not an idea that I’m interested in pursuing. What I am interested in, however, is living my politics among them; the politics of Jesus: the politics of radical love, especially for the poor and the excluded.

I then cease to have time for haranguing about the latest political quibbles. I’m too busy going about the work of loving people; of asking why the poor are poor and why we exclude the excluded. I will find myself thrown into politics, making enemies of those with a vested interest in securing their position in the world at the expense of those who are poor and excluded.

Who knows, maybe they’ll even want to kill me like they killed Jesus. They’ll at least say nasty things about me, which they certainly aren’t doing now. That’s because my politics are, so far, mostly talk and very little action. That leaves me nice, safe and easily ignored.

This is some of the stuff that I talked about in chapel today, and I’m glad that I did. I ended by saying that we’re going to need to figure this politics of radical love out by doing it in community, because I think it’ll be impossible to do by ourselves. The journey continues…

6 responses to “The Politics of Love”

  1. Thanks for giving that message to young people, Matt. I think we’re all still figuring it out together, by the Spirit, and now those who may be already stirred by the Spirit have affirmation to press on.

  2. Kathy: my pleasure. Issues of faith, justice and even politics are slowly but surely stirring and getting everyone’s attention at our little school. Just trying to do my part to stir the pot and see where God takes us. :)

  3. it is about loving our neighbours and enemies, and i think perhaps the greatest challenge is how to love those hateful people who themselves oppress and de-humanize. how do we act on behalf of the poor, etc. without de-humanizing those who would oppress them?

  4. Chris, thanks for the compliment, as I have Claiborne to thank/blame for stirring some of these thoughts in me.

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