Opening the Word: A politics of love

Across the country, election signs are forgotten. The newest governors, senators, congressmen and women, mayors, and county commissioners will soon take up their offices.

As residents of the United States, our elections are endless occasions of hope. If only the right party is in power, then peace will reign. Justice shall be established.

But American politics at present seem more dominated by a will to power. The goal of politics isn’t oriented toward the acquisition of virtue or justice within the polis. The goal is to win, whatever the cost.

The terrifying voices that dominated our television during October, proclaiming the reign of terror that this or that politician would enact, manifested this will to power. The aim of politics in the United States right now isn’t the common good. It isn’t hope. It isn’t love. It’s terror. Vote this way, or cause the world to go to hell.

We, Christians, can’t traffic in such apocalyptic nonsense. We have but one Savior, one king, who reigns not from some cushy office in Washington D.C. Our king is Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, who comes to judge the nations, not through the will to power, but love unto the end.

Jesus Christ comes to manifest to us divine politics. The kingdom of God is not brought about through the exertion of some human power. Instead, the kingdom is revealed most fully on the cross.

Thus, we Christians cannot bow our knees before the politicians of this age. Donald Trump is not our savior. Nancy Pelosi is not our savior.

But as we hear in the Revelation, our city is to be governed by Jesus Christ alone. Our citizenship is the priesthood of self-sacrificial love: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen” (Rev 1:5).

We await the coming of this king alone, who will judge all the nations. This is the king who will reveal through the glory of absolute love that power and prestige, fame and fortune, are not acceptable currencies in the kingdom of God.

This doesn’t mean that we Christians can become sluggish citizens of the present age, letting injustice and disharmony rage until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’s judgment. No. We must speak up. We must act.

We must defend the innocent life of the unborn, whose existence is erased by a society that has forgotten the gift of all life.

We must stand up for the separation of migrant children from their parents, instead of allowing these young people to be treated as political footballs by fear-mongering politicians.

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We must step in for those suffering from radical poverty, those ignored by politicians obsessed with power.

We must care for the elderly, those easily forgotten by a polis that celebrates functionality above all else.

That is, we must practice a politics not of hate, of terror, of fear-mongering. We must practice a politics of love.

We should expect this politics to be a difficult one to engage in. The state, likely, will not reward this. It will not reward those who adore Christ as King.

But happily, as our most just king declared, our kingdom is not of this age.

Timothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D., is managing director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life.