One of the big divisions in this country is about whether we ought to rely on, or completely mistrust, government to meet some of our needs as a society.
One side thinks that free enterprise and the motivator of ambition and reward are the most efficient motors of problem-solving, and that government unnecessarily (or perhaps diabolically) gums things up.
The other side thinks that government needs to get involved alongside business and other ways of organizing ourselves, in order to make sure some things are available to everyone -- and of course, which things those are, is another subject of great debate. (For example, we agree that the military ought not to be privatized and everyone ought to pay their fair share for that kind of protection - but the debate right now is whether access to health care ought to be one of those "social goods.")
There are good arguments to be made on both sides, and like everyone else, I like one side over the other. Like other believers, I think I can marshall the word of God on "my" side, too.
But what's become of the public debate? Now we're hearing of public meetings in which groups of people plan to show up in order to do violence? In which groups of people plan to show up to deny our elected representatives the opportunity to speak? All this in order to convey the impression that there is an angry majority -- even if, in fact, in that particular meeting room, there is not?
Christians need to hear Jesus on this kind of thing: "do not resist an evil person," Jesus said. "You have heard, love your friends and hate your enemies - but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matt 5:39, 43-45a) Hmm. Doesn't Jesus understand the stakes? Isn't his method likely to get us ignored, or worse, run over?
But Jesus' method recognizes something larger going on. Paul says, in Ephesians 6, "for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the ...spiritual forces of evil." In other words, if we belong to Jesus we ought to understand that no human is our enemy -- the real enemies are forces we don't quite understand in a realm we can't quite see, and besides, they are God's problem. Our job is to "stand" (and not fall), Paul says in Eph. 6, and to love God with our whole selves, to love our "neighbors" as ourselves (and that's anyone we can have mercy on) and to love one another in the body of Christ as Jesus loved us -- fully, sacrificially, unconditionally.
That's enough of a job for us. So I'm trying to remember all this, even as I get outraged in the midst of this whole discussion, and to pray for everyone involved -- and especially to pray for the truth to be told, for all the players to be revealed, and for a good work to be accomplished. I especially do not want to be an unwitting recruit for "spiritual forces of evil."