1st July 2012

Freedom:  A Two-Way Street

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? …And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”
Matthew 5:43-47 (NIV UK)

It’s a wonderful blessing to live in a country which values freedom. Freedom, of course, is a two-way street. If we are going to have freedom for ourselves, we have to extend freedom to others. And that means tolerating the opinions of others, even if we don’t agree with them. One of the ideals that the United States was founded upon is the Christian virtue of respecting the right of others to disagree with us, and the same is true here in the UK. Jesus taught that all of us are to love our enemies (see above). 

When we have elections, viewpoints will vary widely, and both sides on any given issue or candidate, will often try to bury opponents in rhetoric, half-truths, innuendo and even blatant accusations.  So what is a Christian to do come Election Day, when he or she wants to reflect Christ in every aspect of their lives? Christians and politics—it’s been a thorny relationship throughout history. One thing we know: God has neither a ‘favourite’ political party nor some ‘divinely chosen’ candidate out there somewhere. 

The truth is, none of the political parties or candidates is going to solve all the national, county or local problems despite the promises that they’re the only party with all the answers. Nor are any of us voters going to solve them by voting for the perfect candidate, because there is no perfect candidate.  At election time, our job is simply to become as knowledgeable about the issues and candidates as we can and then vote as wisely as we can. 

It’s such a blessing to have the right to vote, but voting has little value unless we exercise it. The Bible teaches us to be responsible citizens, and in our democracies, part of being a responsible citizen is to exercise our right to vote. The right to vote goes hand in hand with freedom, as well as helps ensure another cherished right—our right to worship as we see fit. 

So we vote as wisely as we can and hope for the best. But regardless of who we vote for and regardless of the job the winner does, our ultimate trust is in our Saviour, who in the end makes all things right..

Holy Father, thank you that we live in a free land, with rules and laws set up to both govern and protect. Help us to play our part responsibly, carefully and ever with Christian principles and standards well in mind. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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