If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of the co-mingling of religion and politics. The only time this blog did anything close to “going viral” was due to a post I wrote the day after the Presidential Election in 2012, entitled “Why I’m Grieving Election Day” in which I argued that the current obsession about how a candidate and a political slate fits in with my religious beliefs has created a church culture in which we no longer are teaching people how to follow Jesus. Instead, we’ve created a series of litmus tests on “moral” issues that aren’t actually black and white.
The result of this polarized version of faith and politics is that we’ve created a culture in which compassion has become a political issue. With tens of thousands of undocumented children streaming across the southern Mexican boarder en route to the United States, the image of God that the Psalmist describes in Psalm 145:8-9 and that Jesus proves himself to be in Matthew 14:13-21 has been put under the microscope of politics. Surprisingly, every major religious group from Jews to Roman Catholics, Mainline Protestants and Evangelicals has moved beyond the partisanship of the last several decades to make a simple claim, “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion and we should be too.”
We are called, as children of God and even more so as disciples of Jesus, to reach out in care and love for those who are in need in the world around us. Sure, undocumented children are the hot topic these days, and showing care and concern for them is shockingly and frighteningly counter-cultural these days, but our compassion doesn’t end there. We’re called to be compassionate to the prisoner: violent offender and drug addict alike. We’re to be compassionate to widows and orphans no matter our opinions about Social Security. We’re to show compassion to our enemy whether they are across the political aisle or sitting in the pew behind us. Compassion is not a political issue, but rather it is a requirement of those who are made in God’s image.