By Drew Zuverink
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven."
After reading Matthew 5:44-48, most of us probably think about Christians who are persecuted for their faith. However, while this passage certainly applies to those situations, Jesus wasn't talking about that because at the time that he said this, there weren't any Christians being persecuted yet. Instead, Jesus was talking about their political enemies; the Romans.
The "United" States of America seems to feel more and more politically divided each year. While some of this division is silly, some of it is understandable - maybe even good. That's because some of the political policies and agendas that are being pushed are genuinely harmful. Christians should oppose those things. The problem isn't necessarily that we're divided, the problem is that most people are still "loving their neighbor and hating their political enemy."
Jesus isn't against all forms of division, he's against the kind of division that tosses love and prayer right out of the window. That means that when it comes to politics, there should be a big difference between how a republican acts and how a Christian republican acts. The same is true for a Christian who votes democratic. A Christian republican not only divides himself from the democrats, but he also divides himself from the rest of the republicans who hate the democrats. At least, that's how it should be.
Fox News, CNN, and your favorite political radio station are all contributing to this problem of hateful division. Often times we think that we are "staying informed" by consuming hours and hours of our favorite news programs, but is it possible that we are feeding our sinful tendency to hate people instead? Ask yourself, after listening to your favorite political station, are you more or less motivated to love your political opponents? If the answer is less, then isn't that a problem?
If Jesus commands us to love and pray for our enemies, then consuming something that makes that harder for us is definitely not a wise thing to do. Of course watching the news or listening to a political radio station is not inherently sinful. They can also be good tools for us to stay informed. However, is the real reason you consume so much politics because you want to stay informed, or perhaps do you kind of enjoy how it makes you feel angry? Also, a thought worth considering is just how informed do we need to be? When are we informed enough and when are we just going overboard? Even if the real reason that you are consuming so much politics is to stay informed, if that makes you hate more people and love less, then it probably isn't a healthy thing for you to do.
It is entirely possible that consuming political material might be a sin for some of us. Each of us ought to examine ourselves to see if this is true. If it is, we ought to take some advice from Hebrews 12:1-2. "Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let's run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus."