Actively Loving God and Neighbor

Google image depicting a man in Love Your Neighbor hat
Google image depicting a man in Love Your Neighbor hat

by Tina Snieder

Reactions to the 2016 presidential election are as varied and dramatic as they have been throughout the long presidential campaign. One reaction common among Christian circles is the call to prayer and the reassurance that God is in control. I have seen these statements pop up on social media both by those in favor of the President-elect and those opposed.

There can be no doubt that these sentiments are sincere and biblical, rooted in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. We know from from 1 Timothy 2 the importance of praying for leaders and from 1 Chronicles 29.11 that the Lord is exalted as head above the heavens and the earth.

The problem, though, is when Christians use prayer to excuse themselves from action. The issue arises when people remark “God has it under control,” while ignoring the commands from God to “do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”: Micah 6.8. The Lord requires action, not merely passive prayers and assurances that clear us from our Christian duty.

This is not to say prayer is unimportant or passive, but rather a call to be working in our communities to bring about the changes we pray for, knowing that our works of love are works of the Holy Spirit. For any who wish to study our call to action against social injustices, the books of Micah and Amos shed light on the danger of doing religious acts (such as going to church, praying, and reading the Bible) while neglecting the duty to our neighbor.

Where does this leave us in light of the recent election? I think that it leaves us the same place we should be every single day, no matter the political climate, our nation’s leader, or any other social factor – following God’s commands for us. There are many commands we receive from God, including the call in Romans 13 to submit to authority. Christians should take this seriously, as it is a way in which we follow God’s law and honor Him. Once again, we must remember that submission to authority does not mean passivity in the face of evildoers.

Immediately after Paul writes to his audience concerning submission to authority, he summarizes all God’s commands by repeating “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is how we fulfil the law. Paul calls us to action in saying, “the hour has come for you to wake from sleep”: Romans 13.8-14. Thus, let us act. Let us love our neighbors. Let us be loud when we see injustice and oppression, for as we serve and love the least of these we serve and love the Lord our God: Matthew 35.31-46.