Tending the garden

From the left, dire warnings and calls to ‘resist Trump’. From the right, an overcorrective demand to ‘just calm down’.

The left exaggerates the problem. The right doesn’t grasp the danger.

Christians are called neither to resistance nor to quiescence. Christ taught us not to return evil for evil, but to overcome evil with good (Matt. 5; Rom. 12). Our emphasis isn’t protest or passivism. It’s rightly ordered activism.

Whether in support or opposition, the pillars of our politics should be these: protecting the weak and promoting the common good.

The mission of Christians in the world is like tending a garden. From our inner spiritual lives, to our families and communities, to our nation and world, Christians are called to cultivate good, to do justice and mercy, to promote and practice the flourishing of life.

But tending a garden isn’t easy. It’s dirty, hard, uncomfortable, unceasing work.

In the garden, the sun brings life, but it also scorches. The rain brings life, but it also drowns. For the shrewd gardener, the question is not whether these forces are intrinsically good or evil, but whether they can be harnessed — subdued and directed — so that life can flourish. (Cf. Matt. 5:45.)

In the present cultural moment, the danger on the left is overreacting to the sun and rain. Not every ray of light is fire. Not every drop of water is a flood. These things, in measure, help the garden grow.

The danger on the right is forgetting how fast the weather changes, how quickly nature turns from friend to foe. Without preparation and — yes — resistance, drought and downpour bring death.

Tending a garden means working with nature and working against it — and rightly discerning when each is called for.

This is our call and our challenge now.

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