The news of Senator Ted Kennedy’s brain tumor just became known a few hours ago. Ted Kennedy has never been my favorite politician. But I found that my first reaction to the news this afternoon was one of sadness that led me to intercessory prayer. I have stood within a few feet of Kennedy at a press interview on Capitol Hill on one occasion. I watched him answer questions during this taped television interview. I do not even remember the subject he was addressing, quite frankly.
I do recall that on that same say I met John McCain and spoke to him for about thirty seconds in the stairwell of the Senate. He was quite cordial to me. We spoke about his book, Faith of My Fathers, which I had just read at that time and appreciated quite profoundly.
I think the media feeds us such a steady diet of negative stuff about these legislators that many of us feel we have the inherent God-given right to love or hate them as if this was godly and good. I do not find this kind of response to be Christlike, at least so far as I can tell. It is one thing to believe, as I do, that Senator Kennedy is on the wrong side of the abortion debate, for example. It is another thing to "detest him" with such hatred, especially since he is a person made in God’s image like you and me. Furthermore, he has been duly elected to office again and again by the people of Massachusetts whether we like it or not. A government of law must respect these decisions even if you disagree with them. The continual hatred the left has for conservatives and that the right has for liberals troubles me as a Christian. This is why I found a great deal of love for the Kennedy family spring up this afternoon as I prayed for them. I am asking God to draw near to them all in his grace during these coming days that they face as a family.
The perpetual "attack" machine of the conservative media against Senator Kennedy creates a number of real problems to my mind. For one, it fills people with constant anger and even rage in many cases. Second, it helps to make the Church’s public stance look ugly to many on the outside. Third, it feeds the arrogance and loathing of the human heart and increases our inherent pride.
There was a time, many years ago I assure you, when I would have felt something good about this bad news regarding Senator Kennedy. I am, quite frankly, embarrassed to admit this.
I was reminded, as I thought this afternoon about the late Jerry Falwell, that he profoundly disagreed with Kennedy as much as anyone I know in the public scene. Yet Falwell invited him to speak at Liberty University and referred to Kennedy as his personal friend. I wish more conservatives were as gracious to their political enemies as Falwell was to Ted Kennedy. All of this reminds me that men like Jerry Falwell are far better than some liberals really think and Ted Kennedy, as a man, is likely far better than most on the talk show circuit think.
Some conservative Christians have treated Kennedy terribly, at least in their public speech regarding him. I’ve heard this in churches for decades. One wonders if these Christians have ever read what Jesus said about how we should treat our enemies. The last I checked this still includes those leaders we do not agree with politically.