Talking about abortion and right to life issues at a social gathering is highly discouraged as it includes both the faux pas of polite conversation: religion and politics. Passion and tensions surrounding the subject will quickly turn conversation into a heated argument. Pro-choice activists in North Carolina took this argument straight to the governor’s mansion after Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill that limits abortion and requires stricter health and safety standards on abortion clinics (much like the bill Texas recently passed). Those clinics unwilling or unable to comply will be shut down.
After an unusual turn of events, the protestors packed up their signs and went home early. Governor McCrory came out with four security guards and met a protestor in the street, gave her a plate of cookies and said, “These are for you. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you.” The recipient of the baked goods said she was too astounded to say anything back. While the gesture was not received well by all (some chanted “Hey Pat, that was rude; you wouldn’t give cookies to a dude”) it certainly changed the tone of the conversation for a moment.
Proverbs 25: 21-22 says:
“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.”
And Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:43-45).
When we pray for our enemies, it changes our hearts towards them. We may still disagree with them, but by our nearness to God and as we consider God’s heart for His creation, we will begin to see a change in how we see those we used to see as our enemy.
Something similar happens in our enemies when we show them this care—when we “give him food to eat” and “water to drink.” Our kind actions have the power to humanize us in their hearts and minds, just as praying for our enemies has that power to change how we see these opponents. There is something unique about meeting the physical needs of those we’d prefer not to serve. It has the potential to break down ideological walls for a moment, and for those of us who have received the grace of Jesus Christ, remember that we deserve grace just as much as they do (which is not at all), the self-righteousness that we’ve been looking to is a lie.
We are called to be witnesses to this free grace of Jesus Christ—it’s a lot easier to communicate this truth by offering a plate of cookies than it is throwing stones.