Religion and Politics……

“Two things you should never talk about, religion and politics” – Unknown

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” – Jesus

Election year.  It’s coming.  Ahh, the season of dirt and mud-slinging, nothing like it!  I love the smell of passive-agressive hate-speak in the morning…..

Seriously, I get sick every election season.  Sick of childish name calling, from both sides of the fence.  Sick of the ads, becoming more and more personal attack ads, paranoid attacks on character, than discussions on what one has done or will do.  Maybe you’re ok with it?  Maybe I’m overreacting?  Peruse your friends’ Facebook pages – the ones most heavily involved in the political talks – for a few days.  Start to keep track of the emails that you receive from these same people.  Pay attention, hopefully with a heavy heart and compassion for them.  Hearts are hardening…..  And hate is brewing…..

And all too often from believers.  Sad….  While it seems odd that so much time is spent, or wasted, on political campaigns – to me it’s even more odd to me that as much time is wasted on behalf us followers of Christ, worrying about the political season and how they can influence others for their candidate’s sake.  So much wasted energy as well.  So much hardening of our hearts….

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17)

While this verse applied to whether or not it was right to pay the Roman tax, I think it can also apply to our hearts.  “Give to the government only what is theirs – respect for authority.  Give to God what is rightfully his – all of your heart….”

Let me be clear, I am not discouraging Christians from being involved in the political process – just the opposite, I would encourage us to become educated, and truly vote on our values and principals.  And many may disagree with me on this statement – but that does not mean vote for one party, brothers and sisters.  It’s YOUR vote, use your heart and mind, get informed, and vote how you see fit.

But we must not allow this season to consume us, when we have a much bigger agenda.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus’ great commission for us does not say  anything about voting Republican, or Democrat.  It doesn’t say anything about voting at all.  Or winning the political debate at Easter brunch.  Or outwhitting co-workers with your vast knowledge of Obama’s shortcomings (replace Obama with any candidate of  your choice, if you like).

Neither is there anything about politics in Jesus’ answer to the question, “what is the greatest commandment”….

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  (Matthew 22:37-40)

Jesus was honestly a disappointment to those who thought he was going to be a political messiah.  Many truly thought he came to wage war and restore Israel to its former state.  But Jesus had bigger plans – to restore his children to him……

What is our agenda this political season?  Are we so caught up in our political messiah, whomever that is, that we are missing the opportunity to be used by the Lord to restore his children to him?  We have less than eight months until election night – will we waste these eight months?  Or will we use this time as an opportunity to share with someone the love of Christ?  To share our stories, and what Jesus has done for us and through us?  To share the Gospel?

Honestly, it’s easier to debate politics.  I can put my guard up.  I can tell you you are a sinner, and you are wrong, and I will vote into law that you can’t get married, or vote someone into office who will take away your rights as a woman.  I’m not vulnerable at all in doing that.

But it takes vulnerability, and I think a lot more courage, to put myself out there, to tell you some things about the Lord Jesus Christ that might label me a lunatic in your eyes.  To tell you how much he loves you, NOW, as you are, and wants for you greater things that what you strive so hard to make ok in your life.  That the pain in your life is NOT what he has in store for you – and he can save you from it.  I actually have to care about you to do any of that……

Friends, what will this political season be like for us?  Will we spend our time wisely, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ when the Lord gives us opportunity?  Or will we waste yet another year, consumed with disdain, judgment, condemnation, hardening our hearts towards those who need you most?  My prayer – my cry out – is that we take advantage of the tremendous opportunity the Lord has given us.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Luke 10:2)