43 "You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' 44 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, 45 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 warm and the rain to nourish - to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. 46 If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. 47 If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. 48 "In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. Matthew 5:43-48, The MessageLiving in Wisconsin and spending this last month with the Sermon on the Mount really makes you think as you watch people rally in the capital for workers rights. I will place this disclaimer right up front. I have always been politically progressive. For me this flows from my faith that Jesus asks us to stand up for the poor and the lost. I tend to watch MSNBC. As I was watching last night as 1000s of people rallied in the capital of Wisconsin, I was also watching the local coverage. As a political science geek I thought wow a new way to filibuster or as the local news and republicans called it: missing in action, not showing up for work, skipping town, on the lamb. On the one channel they would talk about the union busting and plots to destroy unions, on the other channel the implication was greed by not wanting to pay their fair share of benefits.
So how do we as Christians respond to this information? While the Sermon on the Mount does not tell us how to respond to every situation I think one of the implications from this section of the text is to consider how you are treating the person on the opposite side from you. If you only get your information from one perspective or side can you truly hear what the other side says? If you only watch a channel where the point is to create drama and stir emotions can you judge what is being said? "I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst (Matthew 5: 44)." So if we are to let our enemies bring out our best what would that look like in political disagreements. Part of me says it looks like the PBS News Hour. When you get your information from there you see reasonable people who disagree talking about all sides of the issue. They talk calmly and don't use inflamatory rhetoric, but instead share as much honest information as possible to draw your own conclusions.
When it comes to what we see happening in Wisconsin how do we make that kind of choice? When we hear on the lamb, do we think is that what's really happening? Then we hear I showed up to work, they should to. Do we ask is their more? "In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you (Matthew 5:48)."