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Agape - even (maybe especially) in politics!

November 5, 2022
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Daily Scripture

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4 Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, 5 it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6 it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.

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Daily Reflection & Prayer

Imagine reading these verses at the start of every political rally or commercial. (That’s not possible, of course, in our religiously diverse country, but for a moment imagine we could do it without implicitly favoring any one faith.) How might it change the tone of our politics? Duke professor E. P. Sanders wrote, “The Corinthians fell short with respect to love of one another, as his discussion of their meetings indicates. There were factions…. Paul rose to the occasion by writing 1 Corinthians 13. If he had written nothing else, his fame would be deserved.” * Scholar N. T. Wright clarified the depth of Paul’s thought. “The description Paul gives in verses 4–7 is not an account of what Hollywood means by ‘love’…. Paul has in mind something which, though like our other loves in some ways, goes as far beyond them as sunlight goes beyond candles or electric light. Look closely for a moment at the type of person he describes in verses 4–7. This passage describes someone doing and being things which in the eyes of the world would be rubbish.” **

  • One last time (for now), review the BE Campaign memory verse. With that clearly in mind, follow Wright’s suggestion as to how to best weave the principle of agape into all of your life, including your politics: “Perhaps the best thing to do with a passage like this is to take it slowly, a line at a time, and to reflect on at least three things: first, ways in which we see this quality in Jesus himself; second, ways in which we see it (or more likely, alas, don’t see it) in ourselves; and third, ways in which, if we were like that, it would work out in practice…. It should always be done in prayer…. this life is within reach of each one of us; because it is the life of Jesus, the life inspired by the spirit, the life which is our birthright within the Messiah’s body.” ***
Prayer

Lord Jesus, I want to BE the kind of person you call me to be—and I’m not, not yet, not fully. I open my heart and invite your Spirit to continue changing me from the inside out. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Sheree Reece

Sheree Reece

Sheree serves in Resurrection’s global ministry. She is humbled to partner with incredible leaders all over the world that are transforming lives and communities. When not working, she loves to run and spend time with her husband and (mostly) adult children: when those two things can be combined, it’s beautiful!

Before we begin, I have 2 questions for you:
–What is the name of someone who has made a positive impact in your life?
–What is the name of someone who has made a positive impact in the world?

Did you think of actual people or did you skim the questions? (I ask because I often think questions like these are rhetorical. But seriously, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to pick specific people.)

I rarely get angry. There is too much anger and hatred in the world, and I realize that my anger won’t help. But I do get frustrated. (Which, hello?, is the same thing. Who am I trying to kid?) I’m passionate about creating a better world-–which includes voting for the right people. And when those that I don’t think will do a good job get elected, I get frustrated. They are going to mess up our country and possibly the entire world! But when I step off my high horse, I’m reminded that I don’t actually know that the way I would do things would always be the best way. When I remind myself that that person of the other “party” most likely wants what’s best for our country too (they are just sadly misled-–kidding!), it softens my heart.

Micah 6:8 calls us to be just. When we stand for justice, we think of trying to right a wrong on someone’s behalf, perhaps even our own. But sometimes we think the only way to do that is to get angry, angry enough to do something about an unjust issue or an injustice happening in our society. But what about the rest of the verse? Getting angry over an injustice doesn’t fit in with loving kindness or walking humbly. We can’t pick and choose in this verse. Especially when God calls us to love our neighbor. Anger and frustration go 100% against loving our neighbor. Anger discolors our relationships, our attitude, and eats away at our hope.

Being angry not only makes us and others angry, it also misrepresents Christ. And yes, I’ve heard the story of Jesus overturning the tables in the temple. But first, how many more times did Jesus respond with love instead of anger. And second, we’re not Jesus. His motives are pure, ours our skewed to our personal beliefs and opinions.

What if, instead of being angered by injustice (especially during this political season–spoiler alert: everyone you vote for isn’t going to win), we tried to see the best in others? And if you can’t find anything (dig deep-–it might be hard), then at least pray they are successful in their role in government.

Sidenote: when I was thinking about this devotion and pictured myself praying for success for a candidate I didn’t want to win, my mind immediately thought, “I don’t want them to be successful because then they might get re-elected.” How messed up is that??? I don’t want someone to be successful because they are from a different party or have different beliefs?? That I actually immediately thought it would be better to have someone mess up in office-–our government-–so that another candidate can take their place? I’m embarrassed that was my first thought, and I will be purposefully praying for everyone in office, that they do incredible work for the people of the U.S. and around the world!

Instead of sitting in front of your computer and angrily sharing your opinion about the ineptitude of the winners on social media, what if you decided to keep your thoughts to yourself until your emotions settled? Once settled, find ways you can personally fight injustice in positive ways. On social media, post words of encouragement & love.

So many people think you need to be angry to do something about an injustice. Why? Why can’t you be motivated enough to do something without anger? I recently read this by Mallory Mishler:

“Love, unlike anger, will never burn out. It lights a softer fire in my soul that still urges me to fight but gives me something good to fight for. There are too many angry people in the world already–what the world needs are individuals who love well. Something as simple as that could transform the entire globe.”

Remember those names you said when you started this devotion? How did they impact you and the world? Did they do it through anger or did they do it through love?

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Sanders, E. P., Paul: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (p. 122). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.

** Wright, N. T., Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 172). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.

*** Wright, N. T., Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians (The New Testament for Everyone) (pp. 174-175). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.