Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
Reflection: From Indifference to Love
By Steven Dilla
To love our neighbor is to become involved in politics. From city councils to foreign policy, we are naturally drawn into the realm of politics as we fulfill Scripture’s mandate to care for and serve those God has placed around us. And yet, to be involved in politics is to become frustrated.
The most natural response, especially in a nation lush with freedom and comfort, is to choose indifference. Why get involved when it just results in frustration and disappointment? “A soul becomes apathetic when sick with self indulgence,” reminds Saint Thalassios. Surely if God were to search the heart of the indifferent he would find nothing less.
“Indifference can be tempting—more than that, seductive,” Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel warns in his 1999 speech, The Perils of Indifference. “Yet, for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the Other to an abstraction.”
Indifference, Wiesel observes, “is not only a sin, it is a punishment.”
In a way, to be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the human being inhuman…. Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning; it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor—never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten.
Our lives will become infinitely more complex as we lean-in to politics on behalf of our neighbor. Of course. But the cost of indifference—willful ignorance, purposeful disengagement, or obstructionism—is far greater. To choose to involve ourselves is itself an act of love—and, as C.S. Lewis reminds:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
May not our hearts be silent; may we find our peace in the sovereignty of God.
Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous stumble. — Psalm 55.24
– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Read More about A Discipline for the Anxious
David and the other psalmists certainly knew what it was like to live under threat, under financial pressure, under the constant weight of political instability and the wavering loyalty of an unpredictable government. Amidst such pressures, they had a safe haven. Their help for the stresses of life was meditation and prayer.
Read More about The Weight of Nations :: A Guided Prayer
Strong feelings of love and affection for our nation are not evil, but how do they compare to our feelings for God’s kingdom? Do we equate loving country with loving God? Do we confuse the one with the other?
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