During the great health-care legislation debates in the United States, many people vigorously let their views be known. Two things came to mind as I thought about it: First, what a great privilege it is to be able to voice one’s support or opposition to legislation without fear; and also how important it is to pray in support of legislators and other government officials, no matter what country one calls home.
When thinking of the complexity of their work – the need to balance differing views of citizens, businesses, and others affected by proposed legislation – it seems clear that government workers need all the help they can get, whichever party they belong to.
One of the things I love about Christ Jesus’ teachings is that he was an “equal opportunity pray-er.” In one teaching session, he emphasized the importance of loving our neighbors as ourselves. That could be the members of the government who share our views or belong to the same political party as we do. But what about those other politicians? They couldn’t possibly be our neighbors – right?
Jesus covered that one, too. In his Sermon on the Mount he said, “Love your enemies, bless them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44, 45). In other words, we need to love not just the politicians we agree with, but the ones we find unlovable, also.
This could be pretty tough sledding, if it weren’t for the reward mentioned in Jesus’ comment about this kind of impartial loving. He said that we are to love them so that we “may be the children” of our Father, God. And he went on to say that God loves all people, sending them sunshine and rain equally.
His profound point is driven home by a statement Mary Baker Eddy made in her spiritual interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” She interpreted the statement, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” by writing, “And Love is reflected in love.” When we forgive, we are reflecting or expressing divine Love. In short, we are identifying ourselves as children of Love, and the love we express includes recognizing our legislators (and everyone, really) as God’s perfect and good sons and daughters.
Letting this attitude of active love color how we see our legislators isn’t looking at them through rose-colored glasses. Rather, it’s seeing them as spiritual, responsive to God’s intelligent guidance as they pore over complex laws, budget propositions, and the many other details of their work. And also as they negotiate tough political landscapes. This can help strengthen them so that they aren’t swayed by fear or greed. It can help enlighten them to find inspiration, even after hours of legislative hearings, appointments, and wrangling with others.
When we pray for our legislators with sincere love in our hearts, we’re in essence sending them a silent letter in support of their efforts to do good for us, for themselves, for our country. And for the world.