There was this guy in my college "Jesus and the Gospels" class who always seemed a bit too pleased with himself (no, not me, though that was likely true too). In our online discussion board he could be counted on to say something contrarian and try to have these "drop the mic" moments. One time he questioned Jesus' command to love our enemies. He thought it was hypocritical to talk about loving enemies. If you truly loved them, he argued, then you wouldn't call them "enemies."
And in a perfect world, Droppy McMicerson probably would be right. Ideally, you and I do not look at another child of God and see an enemy. Yet I think Jesus knew all too well the people to which he was speaking. We are a fearful and tribal people. We see those who are different from us, people who have different ideologies, and we see foes to be vanquished, individuals to be feared. We see enemies.
I look at Donald Trump and I see an enemy. I'm not going to lie about it any way, shape, or form. I believe, with ample evidence from his own mouth and countless who have encountered him, that he is an egomaniacal, misogynist, xenophobic man who is stoking fear and hatred to attain more power than he has business possessing. He is playing people. He is dragging a faith I love into it. Even though I do not consider myself a Republican (I don't consider myself a Democrat either) by any stretch of the imagination, I want to see dignity and conviction within that party. Our flawed two-party system is a dumpster fire otherwise and Trump is the king of that flaming trash heap.
I want to unleash what I see as righteous fury. When I hear Christians defend him, it makes me insane. When they say, "But Hilary..." I want to shut them down. Because there's always another way. It's an utter lack of imagination to support someone so heinous just because you don't like the alternative. So I see Trump as an enemy and I see his supporters as foes. And I want to fight. I want to stop being nice and scream, "What the h--- are you people thinking?" And I do not use that term lightly. It means that I think people are wreaking hell on earth.
And then I realize that I am letting hate and fear latch onto me like a parasite. I become the monster to fight the monster. That is not the way of Jesus. Donald Trump was made and is loved by God. His supporters were made and are loved by God. Even when one says horrible things that break God's heart, that individual is still God's creation. I confess that I have not seen people this way. Even though I have tried to not betray my hatred in my speech, I still see people that way. And I repent.
I don't want to be another brick in this massive wall of hatred and fear. There's plenty of that going around. I heard the pastor last night who dubbed roughly half this country as the enemy. I know that this is a campaign in which no mercy for enemies is foundational, even celebrated. Yet I want to treat others as I would want to be treated even if they will not afford me the same. I want to love my enemies until I see them as neighbors and love my neighbors until I see them as brothers and sisters. I will fail at this, but by God's grace, I'm going to strive. It will be difficult because that love does not mean shutting my mouth and living in the denial that everything is just great. Everything is not great. I will still speak to my convictions. It does no good to keep silence when people are being hurt.
But I will try not to demonize. I will strive to remember that everyone--you, me, Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, Droppy McMicerson, and every person on this earth--was made and is loved by God. Maybe if more of us start doing that then we'll make some actual headway in this big, scary world. Maybe we can find the beauty God planted here under the trash heap.