Missouri legislators have asked for Christians to pray that they will make wise decisions in regard to the upcoming budget. I am happy to oblige but will extend my prayers to all legislators regardless of their faith.
However, my prayers will reflect my sincere, if imperfect, understanding of Christianity. I believe that the bedrock foundation of Christianity rests not on what I say but on what I do. When I fail to extend love and compassion to others I deny my faith. Limited space prohibits word-for-word quoting of the primary scriptures on which I base my beliefs thus I simply will note my sources and follow them with my understanding of their message.
My primary source is Luke 10: 25-37. Here Jesus is quoted, saying that loving one's neighbor as oneself is equal to loving God. When asked to define "neighbor" Jesus chose to explain it by telling a story about a Samaritan who showed love and compassion for a Jew, despite that fact that they had been bitter enemies for hundreds of years. The moral of the story being that everyone is my neighbor and I must love them whether I like them or not, even if we have different understandings. One of many reflections of this story can be found in 1 John 4: 7-8. 16. Here the message is condensed into simply "God is Love." There are numerous scriptures that admonish me to love my enemies. Among them my favorite is Luke 6: 27-36 that includes "Do unto others as you would have them do to you."
The next question deals with what kind of behavior reflects this kind of love. Here I turn to Matt. 25: 27-40 where Jesus is quoted as saying that the way to worship God is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, tend the sick and house the homeless even if they be strangers. And then he went on to say that as one does these things to the least among us, we will have done it to God.
Finally, I will pray that our lawmakers will extend love and compassion to the rich. For in Matt. 19: 23-24 Jesus is quoted, saying that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps, they could be helped if they had less money so the needs of the poor could be better met. Amen.