Tag Archives: Politics

Politics and Jesus

A couple of weeks ago our pastor gave a sermon titled “Politics and Jesus.” The scripture reading for the day was Matthew 22:15-22 that recounts the event of the Pharisees asking Jesus whether they should pay taxes to Caesar. But my favorite verse that Pr. Dave mentioned during the sermon is James 1:19-20, which says:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

In the realm of politics, this message seems to have been completely forgotten. There are differing opinions on how the government should be run, what is the best way to decrease the unemployment rate, and what the role of the U.S. should be in the Middle East and the world, and differing opinions are fine. But the way in which these differences are discussed seems to lead to hackles being raised and rude insults being hurled.

We live in an age of out-of-context sound bites and insulting slogans. Each side (with the exception of the atheists) claims that God is on their side. They characterize Jesus as a liberal democrat or a tea-party republican.

In his sermon a few weeks ago, Pr. Dave did not claim that Jesus was on one side or the other, nor did he tell us how we should vote. Instead, he gave some great advice for keeping Jesus in the proper perspective when dealing with political issues. He gave us three cautions to be mindful of, which I paraphrase here:

  1. Be careful how you label Jesus for political purposes. He is too big for our small boxes and categories.
  2. Be careful how you speak to those on the other side of an issue so as to not alienate them towards God. Our purpose in this life is to reach people for Jesus, not a particular political candidate.
  3. Be careful in your attempt to keep Jesus out of the mix. He must be part of how you interact with others in our political world and our allegiance to Him cannot be set aside because of politics.

My hope and prayer is that we would all be more civil and less rude towards each other during this last home stretch to the U.S. presidential election and beyond. It would be even better if the candidates would take civility and their greater purpose to serve and glorify God to heart in their interactions.

Whoever you are determined to vote for, I support your right to make your own decision of who you believe will best serve our country. But be sure you remember who is King of kings (and presidents). Avoid out-of-context sound bites and insulting slogans that do not advance the discussion of issues that affect our country and our lives, and conduct your political discussions as if He was standing right beside you.

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A Crazy World, a Crazy Idea

This morning as a drove into the parking lot at work the song “Crazy Enough” by MercyMe was playing in my car, and the flags in front of our building were still flying at half mast because of the Saturday shooting in Arizona. Since I don’t believe in coincidences, I started thinking about what kind of post this could inspire.

It seems this world has gone a little crazy. A man shoots a congresswoman and many in the crowd around her, killing six people including a 9-year-old girl. And that’s just one day’s news. The story made the news because it involved a public figure and occurred in a crowd. But people are killed, children are abused, spouses are battered, and worse every day without generating headlines.

I was surprised by some of the reactions to the Arizona shooting. One of my Facebook friends posted a link to the article, and one of her friends commented, “The chickens of this FOX, Tea Party lunacy are starting to come home to roost.” Really? I wondered whether this person saw the irony of their own contempt for those with political or ideological beliefs different from their own that are contained within that statement. What is the point of blaming the outrageous crime of one clearly disturbed individual on a group of people with different beliefs, without even knowing if he belonged to that group? But that seems to be the state of our world today; on all sides of the many political, ideological, and religious fences that divide us there is contempt and hatred. The world seems to have gone crazy.

Or maybe it has not yet gone crazy enough? Maybe we should take a cue from MercyMe, and one by one try this insane approach:

Call me crazy but what if we learn
To love our brother for nothing in return?
Oh how the rules would change

Reaching out to the ones who need help
Treating them as you first would treat yourself
Now that would be insane

[CHORUS]
It may just be crazy enough
To work if we could only love
What if we somehow changed the world?
It may just be crazy enough

It is a crazy idea, but it’s not new. Loving others, even those who think differently than we do, was taught by Christ in His sermon on the mount. After all the beatitudes and teachings about the law, adultery, divorce, and anger, Jesus said:

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.  But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48.

If you are a liberal Democrat and you are kind only to other liberal Democrats, what good does that do for the world? If you are a conservative Republican and you are kind only to other conservative Republicans, how are you helping make the world a better place? If you are a Christian, but you speak ill of atheists, Muslims, Hindus, and even Christians in other denominations, and do not love them as God does, what good are you doing for the Kingdom of God?

I can’t change how other people act, what they say, or how they treat those who are different from them. But I can try to implement a crazy idea and show love and kindness to others regardless of whether I agree with them. I can endeavor to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20. I can pray and ask God to help me share His love with the world, even those in the world who seem so unloveable.

Call me crazy, but if enough people were determined to implement this crazy plan, maybe we could change the world. If not the world, maybe the life of at least one other person who is reeling from the tragedy and hatred all around them. Will you be crazy with me? If you will, then that’s at least two other people we can impact together.

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