Jamie Freeze Baird
What's love got to do with it?
By Jamie Freeze Baird
June 23, 2010

God is love.

A catechism we learn as children. A line in a song. A mantra repeated by Christians. A fact questioned by unbelievers. A fact forgotten in the daily life of Christians, including this one.

A few weeks ago, my pastor delivered a powerful sermon entitled, "Christianity Without Charity." The foundation of the sermon was that Christians must be marked and motivated by love in action (charity). If they are not marked and motivated by love in action, then they are not exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit and not pleasing God. He gave the following illustration: Adam, Bill, and Carl (all 16 years old) walk by a house where a nice bike is unattended in the front yard. Adam keeps walking by the bike without a second thought. Why? That's his girlfriend's bike. Out of love for his girlfriend, he wouldn't think of taking her bike. Bill sees the bike and really wants it, but he walks on past it. Why? He fears the legal consequences of stealing a bike. Carl sees the bike and steals it. Why? He doesn't care about anything but his own desires. Adam is a Christian practicing love. Bill is a legalist who cares more about the law than anything else. Carl is a hedonist who only cares about his own pleasure. My pastor drove home the point that you can spot a Christian by his love towards God and his love towards others. That love fulfills the law. After all, if I love God and my neighbor, I won't kill or steal.

What does this sermon have to do with politics? Well, it got me thinking. What is the difference between a Christian conservative and a conservative? Are they the same? What are the characteristics of both? Which one do I claim to be?

Conservative is a relatively broad term that could encompass everyone from Ayn Rand libertarians to the so-called Religious Right with the Tea Party in between. A conservative typically believes in limited government, fiscal responsibility, and the need to preserve life and liberty. As a Christian, I can find biblical support for each of those core principles. George W. Bush once said it was impossible for him to separate his faith from his political views. I find the same to be true for me. I am a Christian first, a conservative second, and a Republican third. The three do not always mesh. As a Christian, my primary motivation in all of my activities should be love. As I reflected on our pastor's sermon, I realized that I tended to divorce Christian from conservative in practice.

Conservatives are often accused of ignoring social ills like poverty and focusing on fiscal matters. However, I addressed those accusations in another column. One thing I am concerned about, however, is how Christian conservatives interact with others. It causes me concern when people who claim to be Christians and call themselves conservatives have no respect for their leaders. Respect does not equate agreement, but it does require honor for the office held by the leader.

Recently, I was driving on the interstate and noticed a bumper sticker that read, "Pray for Obama — Psalm 109:8." For those of you who aren't familiar with Psalm 109, it is referred to as the psalm of vengeance. How can a Christian practice love and submission toward those in authority, when we are calling for vengeance?

As Christians, we are commanded to pray for our leaders and to honor them since they are ordained by God. God did not make a mistake when He allowed Barack Obama to be elected President. God was not asleep when the health care bill passed. God was not taking a break when the oil spill happened. Fellow Christian conservatives, God is still on the throne! Armed with that knowledge, we should love our leaders, pray for our leaders, and submit to our leaders.

I am not asking Christians to fall into the trap of compromising principles in order to accommodate principles that are contrary to Scripture. I am not asking Christians to condone sinful behavior. I am not asking Christians to be silent when evil is promoted. What I am asking is that Christians practice love in action. Love in action is not praying for our President's death. Love in action is not calling the opposition names. Love in action is not yelling and screaming threats at our elected officials.

How can Christian conservatives practice love in action without compromising Christian principles and conservative values?

First, have the utmost respect for the men and women in leadership. You cannot respect their office if you do not respect them. Recognize that God placed them in their office. They did not fool God (even if they fooled the American public). Demonstrate your respect by refraining from personal attacks. Attack the policy, not the man/woman.

Second, do not forget to pray for the men and women in leadership. We seem to act surprised when sinners sin; instead of being surprised, we should be further motivated to pray for them and love them. Pray for their salvation. Pray that God will grant them wisdom and guidance. If you are praying for your leaders, it will be hard not to love them.

Third, do not rejoice in their personal failure. When things came to light regarding Mark Sanford's sordid affair, many on the Right were quick to shield him from the Left's attacks. They reminded people of his fiscal responsibility instead of his moral failure. However, the Right is not always so magnanimous to the moral failings on the Left. Personal or moral failings are not an occasion to rejoice; rather, they are an occasion to demonstrate love in action. Again, love does not mean that you condone or encourage personal failure, but love does not rejoice in evil.

Christianity without charity struck a chord in me. It brought to light my own personal failings as a Christian and as a conservative. With God's help and grace, I resolve to live out my Christianity with charity. After all what is Christianity without charity?

© Jamie Freeze Baird


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Jamie Freeze Baird

Jamie Baird received battlefield experience in the war of ideology while attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While earning her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History, she served as Vice President of the College Republicans and was the lone conservative opinion columnist for The Carolinian, UNCG's student newspaper. After surviving college without becoming a liberal, she graduated in 2009. Jamie received her Master of Arts in Government, with certification in Law and Public Policy from Regent University in 2011, where she was also active in the College Republicans. You can contact Jamie at jamiebaird12@gmail.com with questions, comments, rants, and snide remarks.


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