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Constructive Spiritual Tension

This morning, I sensed the source of tension often present in my decision making process as a political leader. I was reading a recommended thesis, quite academic for me I might say, from Regent University School of Divinity Professor, Dr. Amos Yong, entitled: “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”

In fact, the construct for this “Aha moment” was contained within a study of my own denomination, The Assemblies of God regarding the challenges faced when, like so many fellowships, we battle to sustain our original reason for being, while resisting the natural and somewhat necessary institutionalization; the common plight of most religious movements. I found quite a few transferable truths for my role as a political leader in a struggling national economy.

“Clearly emerging, however, was the connection between the two greatest commandments – the love of God and the love of neighbor – with the one qualification that in almost every case the love of God and of neighbor was only possible, even unavoidable, because of the prior experience of God’s love. In other words, it was the unmistakable perception…that they had been touched by the love of God, which in turn drew forth their love for God and, by extension, led to benevolent works of love for others.”1

Herein lies my dilemma within politics, given that I am a fiscal conservative, yet constrained by the love of God, as Paul puts it in II Cor. 5:14, to love both horizontally, my neighbors, as well as vertically, my God. This is often misunderstood by fellow conservatives, as well as the more liberal in our community at large.

Yong further states, inserting the work of researcher Poloma and Green, “Central to the revitalizing process is Godly Love, a dynamic that is rooted in perceived experiences of the divine that deepen a person’s love for God and in turn empowers acts of benevolence … Godly Love begins with knowing the love of God and responding to that experience with acts of love and compassion.” 2

Again, I trust the reader senses the tension felt by a Christian believer, serving a political role as America struggles for her very survival; serving within a more pluralistic democracy, while traversing the deep gap within the ranks of even professing believers, regarding Church-State issues and the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Further still, how does one survive as a fiscal conservative, while balancing acts of compassion in a country that is already failing financially, in part due to a growing imbalance in the distribution of tax based funds, a near majority retiring labor force, with an increasing number of citizens and now immigrants, dependent upon public welfare?

Herein lies the Aha!

Five components come to mind, all spirit driven: vision, wisdom, a deep capacity for Godly love, spiritual power and personal stamina.

• Vision is spiritual insight; the ability to see what could be. • Wisdom, a factor of age to some degree, is the ability to frame life experience in a way as to overcome hurdles that defy traditional rationale. • Capacity for Godly love is not mere compassion, but rather a gift of the Holy Spirit and is nurtured through an intimate relationship with the person of Christ Jesus. • Spiritual power, the critical component to personal stamina is solely due to the daily, if not hourly surrender to the voice of the Holy Spirit within. • Personal Stamina is the ability to “get up” once more, even when humiliated (made humble) by one’s own weakness of character.

All these variables imply a dynamic that fosters personal growth and leadership beyond the typical political standard of pleasing one’s constituents by way of skilled rhetoric.

“He hath shown thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8 (KJ21)

1. A. Yong / Journal of Pentecostal Theology 21 (2012) 113–134 (p.124). 2. Ibid, p.17.

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