While often read merely as an account of judgment, heaven, and hell, the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats reveals a love that overcomes dualism.
Christians are called not to ignore despair, but to help sow joy in its wake; not to condone hate, but to be all the more zealous in their own loving in its face. The politics of overcoming evil are about neither ignoring nor condoning evil, but rather, fighting it with the strongest power possible—love.
In Romans, Paul speaks of a God of reconciliation, who makes friends of enemies. Principles of reconciliation and of the love of enemies have often been quarantined from the political realm in systems of political thought that prioritize the enemy-friend polarity. However, a politics of love for enemies and of reconciliation with a creation from which we have become alienated may never have been more urgent.
As it is often detached from its broader context and treated as a standalone paean to love, the significance of 1 Corinthians 13 within Paul’s overarching argument about the Church as a polity is often neglected. When the context of this chapter is appreciated once more, its political significance will emerge.
‘And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight.’ The notion of love overflowing in knowledge is odd to modern Western ears, accustomed as we are to a divide between reason and affections. However, such a love that overflows in knowledge could transform much of our politics.
Paul’s teaching about the manner in which love for weaker brethren should guide behavior when considering eating food sacrificed to idols provides principles that remain relevant, long after the issue that provoked their articulation. The role that politics and the state play in contemporary forms of idolatry suggests analogies that can be drawn between the responsibilities of first century Corinthians and our own.
Christ’s actions on Maundy Thursday present a challenge to Enlightenment views of property. Through the Eucharistic vision of Christianity, we become more like Christ, and we do so together enveloped in an all-encompassing commandment of love: we grow together, not only in that we all simultaneously grow, but the barriers between us dissolve and our original love is mended.