What our nature says:
What the Spirit says:
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” – 1 John 4:20
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22, 23
“For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” – 1 Corinthians 3:3
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” – Romans 12:10
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” – Romans 12:16
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” – Galatians 5:13
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-3
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” – James 1:26
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” – James 2:1
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.” – James 2:8
“So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” – James 2:12, 13
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” – James 3:13-18
“The increasing political polarization and bitterness we see in U.S. politics today is a sign that we have made political activism into a form of religion. How does idolatry produce fear and demonization?
Dutch-Canadian philosopher Al Wolters taught that in the biblical view of things, the main problem in life is sin, and the only solution is God and his grace. The alternative to this view is to identify something besides sin as the main problem with the world and something besides God as the main remedy. That demonizes something that is not completely bad, and makes an idol out of something that cannot be the ultimate good. Wolters writes:
“The great danger is to single out some aspect or phenomenon of God’s good creation and identify it, rather than the alien intrusion of sin, as the villain in the drama of human life…The Bible is unique in its uncompromising rejection of all attempts to identify part of creation as either the villain or the savior.” – Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods
The admonition here is not to abandon our opinions and convictions. We can hold to a political stance without falling into the fleshly trap of assuming that our “party” is perfect and their party, or rather all who disagree, are evil or stupid or depraved. We can stop attacking personal character or assuming hearts, ESPECIALLY when it comes to our brothers and sisters in Christ, but also every other person. We can disagree with abortion without demonizing those who have one or those who disagree. We can stand up for what we think needs to be changed without becoming conceited and looking down on, what may become, our enemy – not necessarily because they are in fact an enemy, but because our priorities become twisted to the point that we now view an allegiance, other than the one we have to God and His bride the church, as the foundation on which we stand.
We can attain this balance because we have the same problem as our enemy and our friend, our brother and the unbeliever: apart from God, we are all weak and sinful and only by His grace can we be saved, and only by His grace and Spirit can we even war against our own equally sinful flesh daily.
And this isn’t a call to be careful not to post things like this on social media, it’s a call to purify our very hearts, to humble ourselves, to be genuine.
“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” – 1 Peter 2:17