Love and Country: A Christian Perspective

Today is Valentine’s Day, a day of love.  Usually this is love focused on romantic love.  But there are many types of love, including brotherly love, erotic love and agape love.  Those of us who are Christian are commanded to “Love Thy Neighbor,” a form of brotherly love.  It is to be a way of life.

That brings me to my perspective.  My father is a retired Lutheran minister.  When a couple came to him to be married, he would counsel them and challenge them to love as St. Paul wrote in II Corinthians, the Love chapter:

Chapter 13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

My father would take the verses 4-8 and challenge each of the pair to substitute their own name for each reference to love, to see how they would measure up, as Paul gives us an ideal to shoot for.

 

______ is patient, ______ is kind. _________  does not envy, _________  does not boast, _________  is not proud. _____ does not dishonor others, ______ is not self-seeking, _______is not easily angered, ________ keeps no record of wrongs. _________ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. ______ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 ________ never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

 

If you put in your name for the spaces, you may find the fit is reasonably good in some places and not as good in others.

What happens if we substitute the name of our elected president in the spaces?

 

___ Donald Trump____is patient, ___ Donald Trump____ is kind. ___ Donald Trump____does not envy, ___ Donald Trump____does not boast, ___ Donald Trump____is not proud. ___ Donald Trump____ does not dishonor others, ___ Donald Trump____is not self-seeking___ Donald Trump____ is not easily angered, ___ Donald Trump____keeps no record of wrongs. ___ Donald Trump____does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. ___ Donald Trump____always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

__ Donald Trump______ never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

 

How good is that fit?  Shouldn’t our President be someone we can look up to as a model of moral behavior?  (You can also try this with Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller or Michael Flynn, those advisors closest to the president, if you know them well enough.  Or try Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.)

Is it any wonder, then, that some of us Christians are having a terrible time supporting this administration, much less respecting the president?  Donald Trump would clearly have much work to do to measure up to this ideal of love for fellow man.  It is not out of the realm of possibility, but for some of us it would take a Saul to Paul-type conversion to be able to respect this man.  …again, not out of the realm of possibility, but not very likely.

Sometimes I focus too much one what I see as a beautiful country’s vision at war with a not very loving administration.  I worry about our government and how best to respond to the attacks on our constitution.  My wonderful wife Doris reminds me to concentrate on God’s vast love for us, which is summed up in another of Paul’s letters:

Romans 8

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I will try to remember that.

Paul ends the love chapter in this way:

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

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About Cinnwriter

Scientist who enjoys writing fiction, but can hardly find the time for it.
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