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:
- Be careful how you label Jesus for political purposes. He is too big for our small boxes and categories.
- 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.
- 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.