How Does Jesus Fit Into Politics?
I started writing this blog back in December. I have hesitated pushing the publishing button because I have not wanted to offend anyone. Witnessing what is going on in our political process in this season has convinced me I need to continue to wrestle with this. And encourage other believers to wrestle with it as well. I hope you hang in there until the last line and choose to join the crusade to be kind. In the midst of our differences, let us err on the side of kindness.
Today I am sad. And frustrated. And hopeful. Always hopeful.
Anger has gripped our country in ways I have never seen before. It has been percolating for a long time. I believe the anger stems from fear. The terrorist attack in San Bernardino a couple of months ago seems to have been a tipping point. And the fear is manifesting itself in anger.
Everyone seems so angry. I see it in our politicians, in our presidential candidates, and on our news shows and social media. The hateful rhetoric being thrown around causes me great alarm.
The most troubling place I am noticing the anger is in those who call themselves Christians.
Let me clarify something here. When I talk about Christians I am talking about my people, my tribe.
I am a believer.
I believe the Bible. I believe it is the inerrant Word of God. I am an ardent student of the Bible. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe Jesus is still calling people to follow Him. In fact, I have given my life to serve His church and to make Him known. I am one of those Christians. Jesus is everything to me. He has completely changed my life. I believe He still changes lives and is relevant to this world we live in.
I also believe Jesus is concerned about a lot more than our politics. The primary Christian witness since the late 80s have been a political witness. God help us. No wonder people have a warped view of who Jesus is. We are putting way too much hope in the political process. We are way too invested in it. We are sending people to our State Capitals and Washington D.C. expecting them to solve every issue. And we get mad when it does not happen. And we lash out at each other. We don’t even listen to one another anymore. We just want to be right. And fight.
I am not one of those who put their heads in the sand. I vote in every election. I keep up on current events. I have served 8 years on City Council and currently serve on Planning Commission. I have loved politics since I was a kid. In 7th grade, my research paper was on the Great Depression. I wrote about the economic and social factors that led to it. I was 13. In 8th grade, my research paper was on Watergate and how the events surrounding it led to President Nixon’s resignation. But over the past 5 years, I have been wrestling with what I believe politically. The first mayor (a mentor) I served with on City Council asked me “How does Jesus fit into politics?” I have been asking myself that very question a lot lately. Does what I believe politically line up with what the Bible teaches? I grew up in a democratic household. I switched in my early 20s to the Republican party. I have gone back and forth since then. I currently am a registered independent. People may say I am wishy-washy. I say I am trying to be authentic and figure out how my political beliefs line up with the Word of God.
I am ardently pro-life. Or let me re-phrase that. I believe in fostering a culture of life. I have begun to filter every issue through this lens. This may seem very simplistic or naive to some reading this. I am ok with that. (One of the conclusions I have come to over the past 5 years is we are all hypocrites in the political realm. No matter what side of the aisle you are on.)
I began to apply a culture of life philosophy to every issue we face as a nation:
Immigration: I am most appalled at the conversation surrounding this issue. I understand the safety issues. I agree taxes must be paid. But most of “those” people coming over the border are kids and teenagers fleeing drug cartel infested nations which our American drug habit is feeding. We bear some of the responsibility. I also remember reading somewhere instructions to take care of the alien, the widow and the fatherless among us (tongue in cheek 😉 I’m referring to the Bible. And when the government comes out and wants to increase the number of LEGAL immigrants by only 10,000 this year, we are upset about that as well.
The Statue of Liberty has the inscription:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
We are a nation of immigrants. It is part of our DNA.
I recently read over 10,000 migrant children are missing in Europe. The fear is many have been absorbed into the sex trafficking trade. Christians should be leading the efforts to rescue and care for these kids. And our policies as a nation should assist in these efforts.
Environment: I am a firm believer in taking care of what God has entrusted to us. If I really believe in a culture of life, I want safeguards to help protect people from getting cancer as much as possible so people can live the best, most fruitful and fulfilling life possible. I have been to several third world countries that do not have the regulations we have here in America. Burning garbage is the norm in most countries. I am grateful for the regulated air we breathe and the water we drink. What is happening in Flint, Michigan affects us all. It can happen to any community. No child should be dying in 21st century America of lead poisoning. Being a follower of Jesus and being green really are compatible. God called us to be caretakers of the planet, not destroy it. I hope someday followers of Jesus would have the best reputation for loving people and taking care of the planet that houses those very same people. (Pleases recycle 😉 )
Abortion: The right to life is THE fundamental basic right. Every life is valuable and created in the image of God. We wonder why life does not seem to be valued anymore in our country. It starts here. And politicians who change their stance on this issue just to win votes will never get my vote. You respect life or you don’t. All lives matter. Especially life in the womb. How we treat those who cannot help themselves show us the true character of our nation. The elderly, disabled, addicts, the unborn, the poor all deserve our care and concern. That is fostering a culture of life.
Welfare, health care, social security: God helps those who helps themselves is not in the Bible. The Bible also does not put conditions on taking care of the poor. If I have to err, I am erring on the side of taking care of the poor. But with that being said, we have to be fiscally responsible and wise stewards of our resources. As a nation, we have to live within our means. But we elect who we are…individually we are not living within in our means, should we be surprised those who represent us are not as well?
Foreign Policy: We have been blessed as a country. We have the obligation to help people who cannot help themselves. If we do not lead, someone else will. And if we cannot defend ourselves, we cannot defend others. Our responsibility does not stop at our borders.
Gun control: I believe we have the right to protect our lives and the lives of our loved ones. I grew up in a hunter’s home. I also believe we need to have a common sense approach to gun laws. But saying the right to bear arms is a God-given right is incorrect. It is a Constitutional Right. The Constitution is a very important document and adhering to it as a nation is important. But the Constitution is not the Bible.
It seems to me the Church has merged Nationalism and Christianity together. In the Old Testament, this would be called syncretism. And the result is an ugly hybrid of what following Jesus should look like.
I could go on and on with other issues. I know people could poke holes in all of this or disagree. And I am okay with that.
I love my country. I am grateful to be born in America. I understand in other parts of the world I would not even be able to express my thoughts and opinions.
A good friend called me the day after the shooting in San Bernardino. He is a “little” cynical. His response to the shootings was “we are screwed now. There is no hope of things getting better.” I disagreed and still do.
I may not have control over current events but I know the One who does.
The only person I do have control over is me. I choose not to live in fear. I choose to be kind and to make a difference in people’s lives. One person at a time.
I choose to be kind when people are cruel. I choose to be kind and listen to people who look differently than me, who act differently than me and who think differently than me.
I choose to try to understand people and not judge based on snapshots of their lives.
I choose to make a difference.
I will always stay informed on what is going on around me — the good, the bad and the ugly. I will fight on my knees for my country.
BUT I WILL CHOOSE TO DWELL ON GOOD THINGS. ALWAYS.
What happened in California was horrendous. Two individuals killing 14 people in the name of their ideology and God. So needless and barbaric. My heart grieved for the families who faced the holidays without their loved ones around the table. My heart also grieves for the 6 month old baby girl growing up in the shadow of what her parents did.
What I will dwell on is the man who shielded his co-worker and said “I got you” and gave his life protecting her. I will dwell on Dr. Michael Neeki who ran into the unknown to save lives before the area was secured. I will think about the first responders who time after time put others first.
At the end of the book Mocking Jay (the third book of the Hunger Games trilogy) , Katniss who had and witnessed horrible atrocities and experienced terrible things says fear still grips her. Fear her kids will be ripped away from her and her life she has built will be destroyed. She combats this fear by playing a game. She recounts every good act she ever witnessed.
The apostle Paul says something similar in the Bible, Philippians 4:8:
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
I choose to focus on the good in the world. I will not ignore the evil and put my head in the sand but I will not let it change me or become my focus. I will not cower in fear. When fear and anger dictate how we act, we have already lost.
I will live life to the fullest, celebrate the good things I witness, and love people. I will be kind. Even to people who think differently than me. Especially to those who think differently than me. Will you join me?