“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
Coin of the realm
I couldn’t care less how you vote. If you’re following the above, with peace defined as Jesus did: “not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” (John 14:27, emphasis mine), then more power to you. Take advantage of the auspices which are rightfully yours and do your civic duty to your heart’s content. Just make sure you surrender it at the door of the sanctuary on Sunday morning.
“For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates…” (2 Corinthians 12:20)
Aside from Relgion, I know of no more divisive a topic than Politics. I have friends—good friends, Christian and non—from both ends of the political spectrum. And before I go any further, this isn’t some naive and irrational plea for a callow and shallow “love”-based interaction. Love is selfless. And the political machine, while it holds sway over many aspects of one’s life, does so from an indifferent, and also elevated, vantage point. Its own ends in view, it would seem, regardless of the color of the party in power.
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Romans 13:1)
Prayer is the single most effective thing a Christian can do during times of political upheaval and change. And when we vote (if we do), it’s not that we’re placing our faith in the one whose name we punch on the ballot. We’re taking part in something that is a privilege and right. But as Christians, first. And if we take into our churches, an attitude of political posturing that only goes so high and derives its confidence therefrom (i.e. a person in “power”), then the resulting dissonance among otherwise-minded brothers and sisters will affect the worship in the sanctuary and ultimately, the week ahead. Surely you’ve heard Jesus say this: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)
Rule of the realm
Jesus introduces by implication, the idea of individual thought and conscience, into the political arena. By comparing the two (Caesar and God), the reader is left with the obvious realization that God is the one to whom all things belong and therefore flow, anyway. But then, what are we to do with this “rule of the realm” in which we find ourselves? Paul elucidates it a little further:
“Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.” (Romans 13:5-6) As an aside, the Christians in Rome met a gruesome fate at the hands of Nero shortly after receiving this letter. Not only were they killed for their faith, but they were slandered and ridiculed and made a public spectacle of as well. Should we all be willing to go through the same? Food for thought.
So he sews up the idea of one’s civic duty, in spite of the fact that Christians are, “not of this world” (John 18:36). The same goes for the one whom we serve. And while the above verses merely deal with the idea of taxes and tribute, the same logic can be applied across the panoply of hot-button issues that offend our sensibilities and rile our consciences. The Christian’s spiritual duty is to align their conscience with Jesus’. Something for which we have an opportunity with every moment we meet and with every fresh encounter. Not just once every four years.
I respect the system. I have a brother presently serving in the Marines and he answers to the President (whomever he may be) through the chain of command. And he’s doing it for me (and you), so my flippance is allayed in light of my love for him. But even before that, my allegiance is to Jesus. Who in turn, through Paul, tells me to respect the system.
Again, I don’t care how you vote, or even if you do. I do care that you know the heart of the one who gave up everything to get you back. And while our short earthly life is subject to the decisions that make up the political atmosphere in our homeland, we serve one to whom all will answer eventually. That may sound fundamentalist and elitist, but it flows out of my belief that Jesus is still alive. And if that’s the case, everything will work out in the end. But this isn’t resignation, this is an active, moment-by-moment walk in which topics of interest are laid at the feet of the Lord and I in turn live out my life at peace among my fellow citizens.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His nameshall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, emphasis mine)