The Balm

I am so blessed to have close friends and family members who are pastors. I am so blessed to have so many solid Christians in my life who are friends.  I am so blessed to be a member of a Christian church family.

And I wonder from time to time where we all fit into the world of politics today?

Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him [Jesus] in a statement. They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? “Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.”   They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.”   And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” [Mark 12].

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it” [John 17].

These two scriptures are very popular and may mean different things to different people but in Mark, I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that Jesus is trying to relay the idea that what the government demands of man is much different than what God demands of man.

In John, Jesus is specifically praying for his Disciples to realize they are not of this world. Several times in the Bible He refers to Christians as being in this world but not of this world.

But politics?

To me, the word has such a “worldly” feel about it.

As Americans, we are told by many in other cultures that we should appreciate our vote, our ability to participate in government, our means of expression.

I don’t advocate that we just quit participating but I do advocate that we educate ourselves as much as we can about what is going on with a candidate.

This may be a very inconsequential metaphor, but it is just like clicking “like” on someone else’s Facebook post.   Be very careful what you like.  Your liking indicates something about you.  [of course, voting is much more serious than that.]

Keep in mind that politics can be about “being used.” Adam Hamilton in Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White says: “Too often faith has been used by Christian leaders and politicians to further a particular political party or political agenda.”   For many political operatives, the Christian Evangelical group of voters is just a demographic group.  I don’t know how many times I have heard a pundit or a politician say that such and such candidate has locked up the Christian Evangelical vote.  I don’t want to be a voter in a block of voters, just voting like others in my demographic group.

More than that, in the minds of many people who are unaffiliated with a religious group, the more controversial topics like homosexuality, abortion and the Biblical origin of man drive people away from the church. You may recall what I said at the beginning of this post about the many Christians I have in my life.  Guess what; I have many non-Christians among my family and friends and many of them won’t have anything to do with God because of their feelings of disgust about the church and a single controversial issue.  Often they are not fully aware of the position of the church.  They just think they know.  As Hamilton says, “Christianity has become a wedge that drives people from Christ, rather than drawing them to Him.”

I want to vote with my head and my heart. I want to vote for the candidate that reflects the best choice for me.  I want to vote for the candidate that reflects how I feel about my faith.

Is the perfect candidate out there?

Sadly no.

They all have flaws.

You may have to make the slightly square peg fit into the round hole and it takes work sometimes.

It is important work however as you deal with the fact that your vote does matter. It matters because it reflects on you and your faith.  It matters because we have the right to vote.

Today especially, it is important for Christians to be actively, intelligently involved in our governmental process. What we need to give to Caesar is our vote because we have a nation that allows it and we never want to give it away. What we need to do in the world today [in my estimation] is never to forget that we are people of God, people who advocate peace and love for one another.

Our political activity should be positive rather than negative. We should discuss and act as citizens who want to offer “the balm that can heal” a divided country rather than citizens who want “to divide our nation” [Hamilton, XV].

I wonder from time to time where we all fit into the world of politics today?

Well, like that square peg and that round hole, we don’t seem to fit, but we need to do the best we can to be a positive force, to offer that balm.

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