Love is at the heart of our faith. Our God is love and He created us for a loving relationship with Him. God’s love is displayed throughout biblical history, with the ultimate example of Christ giving himself for us on the cross. And God calls us to show this costly love, as we love our neighbours as ourselves.
That great commandment applies to all our relationships, but each one calls for love in a different form. It covers love for our family, for those in our community, for those in other communities and even for our enemies. It is a love that shapes how we act towards everyone, because everyone is made in the image of God.
We are called to love even – and perhaps especially – when it is hard to love. The most famous words on Christian love (1 Corinthians 13), come in a letter to a church so divided that love seemed impossible. It seems that love at its most difficult is love at its most necessary.
Our society too is crying out for this difficult love. It’s a love that can reach across barriers to hold diverse communities together. Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan is well known outside the Church, but how many people know the background story of divided communities that made Jesus’ call for love so radical? How do we build a community that allows us to face our differences honestly and encourages us to love each other in spite of them?
Love must also inform the way we debate. Disagreement too often gives way to demonisation. Isolation from those who have different views leaves us unprepared to face our divisions, such as in an election or a referendum. So we can’t shut down our disagreements in the name of love, but must use love as the standard by which we judge those disagreements. Love must guide the way in which we debate truth.
So in this election, let’s look for representatives who will lead by example in holding a better political debate. While we will not agree with all candidates, we can respect their shared commitment to serve their communities, which they have expressed by running for office. Public service is an act of love. Each candidate needs our prayers.
Questions to ask your candidates
- Co-operation – how will candidates cooperate with and facilitate the work of the Christian church in their local area?
- Good disagreement – how do candidates propose to work constructively with those with whom they disagree, both nationally and locally?
- Family – how will candidates support the institution of marriage and family life?
- Public service – how will candidates promote and demonstrate an ethos of sacrificial public service?