Love your neighbor

IMG_3241Jesus did a plain summary of the Torah: Love God, love your neighbor. The amazing thing about the Bible, the Old Testament in particular, is how many levels it works on. Too often we regulate the Bible as merely a theological book and fail to realize it is so much more. Loving your neighbor is a massive part of the Bible and covers and area we do not like to discuss: how do we live with our neighbors?

Defining the good life
The Bible quite clearly demonstrates that the good life is one that pursues God in a simple quietness. The issue of quietness meaning peace. It is not the pursuit of wealth, prestige, or achievement. Worship of God, hard work, and the companionship of good neighbors go quite well together. The later part, companionship of good neighbors, goes by a different word historically: Politics.

Ignorance breeds injustice
It was said that the only thing evil needs to succeed is for good men to be silent. While true, another key aspect is needed: wisdom. All that is needed for evil to succeed is abandonment of wisdom. In Ephesians 5 wisdom is the keystone to being spirit filled. To quote a chief of staff of a democrat senator: “If people knew how the government is supposed to operate, we would all be fired. Both parties.” His statement is quite correct. People dislike politics so they remain ignorant. This breeds injustice.

Avoiding conflict brings disruption
Avoiding conflict is a sure way to bring on huge conflict. Today people cannot believe the turmoil in the election process. This is a result of being ignorant and avoiding conflict. We then shut out other voices, do not engage, and then we avoid politics because of the mess that it is in… from our avoiding it. We the people, we the problem. And, the funny thing is, by avoiding it, you’re actually not loving your neighbor.

Better your city not your party
One of the ways the Old Testament unpack loving your neighbor is instructions on how to live in captivity. During the exile God tells Judah in the book of Jeremiah to build houses, marry off their children, and work for the betterment of their city. You can engage in politics- loving your neighbor- without having to deal with the party system. On a national level politics is a mess, but on a local level it does not have to be. On a local level politics is all about living with your neighbors and the betterment of your city.

Responsibility constrains freedom
The constraint of freedom is human responsibility. This is the difference between the tyranny of anarchy, or the tyranny centralized government. Either extreme gets born out of selfishness. For freedom to work we cannot be about ourselves. We must also be diligent in loving our neighbor. This involves engagement, humility, and responsibility. It is to work not merely for ourselves, but also our city. When we say “there ought to be a law that…” we fail in loving our neighbor. Rather than engaging the issue responsibly, we desire to create a higher power to deal with it… so we don’t have to. The process of peacemaking is a much more loving way to deal with situations.

The bottom line:
Jesus, God, the Bible says we need to love our neighbor. This is more than just kind actions of individuals, but also how we live in community. By avoiding politics, we actually fail to live up to the standard Jesus set. Politics, for the Christian, should not be about party but rather the betterment of their city. To do good, and not evil.

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