This open letter is written to my fellow Christians who, unlike me, support the current President of the United States.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this letter is written with love for you and all people. It is not my goal to criticize, judge or condemn anyone for their beliefs or even their behavior. I am seeking to dispel the supposed connection between our Christian faith and the politics and behavior of the current American administration.
I am a middle-aged white man from the suburbs. I had a good public education. I have come/returned to my faith at this later stage of life, when questions of meaning and morality get greater consideration. I am not a liberal (or conservative) ideologue. I am a believer in Jesus Christ, and I believe in the salvation he offers all of us who follow him.
Without expounding too much, the basis for following Jesus is to emulate his example as much as we can, realizing that he required of us only 2 things - to love God with all of heart, mind and strength and to love one another as we love ourselves. It is the second requirement from Jesus that will focus the remainder of this letter.
When Jesus said we are to love one another, he did not apply limits or restrictions. He did not say love only your family or your clan or your countrymen or your fellow Christians. His example included spending time and kindness on so-called undesirable people including criminals, prostitutes, tax collectors and others whose sins caused them to be shunned by 'decent' society. Jesus himself was criticized for these associations with sinners, but he was teaching us to accept and not to judge. God judges. People are to love.
Based on that requirement, and the example Jesus set, how do we expect that the Lord would have behaved toward immigrants, minorities and sinners of all kinds, even those who persecuted him personally?
He would have loved them - in whatever way they needed, be it food, shelter, safety, security, direction, education, work or simple encouragement and validation. Jesus would not administer a test to ensure they recipient was worthy of his love. He would not require them to justify being in his presence. He would simply and perfectly give love. He requires us to do the same.
The Bible says that perfect love drives out all fear. It is fear that I see from those who seek to exclude, deride and banish others from our society. Some feel vulnerable and lash out in anger and disdain for anyone who seeks change, in order to fit into our great country. Others buy into divisive, self-serving, inaccurate rhetoric of politicians and other demagogues who make us feel as though we are soft-hearted suckers who are being taken advantage of by evil, wily strangers.
Remember again, our Lord's handling of those who intended evil. Unlike us, Jesus knew what was in the hearts and minds of those evil doers. He was sure as only God can be, and yet, he allowed them to do what they did. He accepted them and 'turned the other cheek' to those who meant him harm. He forgave the very people who were crucifying him while they were still in the process of killing him! Was our Lord a soft-hearted sucker? Of course not. Not at all.
We live in a broken world, and some parts of it are far more broken than our particular area of it. For that reason, desperate folks from everywhere still see us as a safe, happy, desirable place. Because it is. We have enough resources to take care of everyone. It is not zero-sum game that God is playing. There is enough for everyone. He sees to it.
Unfortunately those whose faith is only in themselves, their power and their possessions and whose thoughts can only understand competition for resources, are leading us astray. They pander to us with out-of-context or misleading scripture passages to justify their immoral actions. They rail against those who disagree with them and criticize their methods. They lie, demonstrably and pathetically, so often that we are desensitized to the outrages we hear daily. They exacerbate our fears and validate our hatred and mistrust of others. And they undermine not only the various information outlets which (imperfectly, I admit) seek to share the truth with us, leaving many unable to discern what is real and what is not.
Jesus was the victim of a smear campaign himself. He was crucified by those who sought to maintain their own power and to silence dissent, especially when that dissent was uncontrollable. And yet, today, we and millions of others are still leading our lives based on his blessed, perfect example, and look to him as our only hope in a broken world. Because that is what he is. Jesus won.
This is not about individuals who happen to lead us. I am not naming names because they, like us, were created by God. They have been, in some instances, led astray by evil and in so doing, have led us to accept, reluctantly, immoral, illegal and ungodly behavior. Like all of us, they are broken by sin. We need to love them too.
What this is about is for those of us who follow Jesus Christ to look at what is happening around us, discern good from evil, pray for all of our leaders but only support those who espouse real Christian values: Love for God and love for one another without exceptions or limitations. This means not supporting those who pander to us, while lying and manipulating others in a way that divides and pits people against one another.
We are on a dangerous path as Americans, as Christians and as people. Dividing and attacking one another as though we were fighting for the last scrap of food is a guaranteed way to succumb to the danger and the decline of our country and of humanity as a whole.
God bless you and keep you, always. Amen.