In the past, I’ve tried to avoid writing about politics. I don’t hold a corner market on truth, and I respect that people come from many different perspectives, and believe as they do for their own reasons.
However, I have been a lifetime student of scripture. I can read, and while I do not understand it all, I believe I can articulate some of the major themes of scripture as it pertains to civic duty.
In Genesis, we see all mankind given stewardship of the earth, to tend it and fill it. We see the people dividing into nations. God chooses one family as His own, but all nations of the earth are blessed and judged according the same criteria.
Some reasons God judges a nations include:
- Arrogance and refusal to care for the poor (Sodom and Gomorrah) According to Ezekiel 16:49, 49“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.”
- War crimes against other nations.
- The rich taking advantage of the poor, particularly the widows and fatherless
- The shedding of innocent blood.
- Unjust judges, unjust business practices
- False worship, idolatry, also hypocrisy among those who claim to be worshipers of Yahweh
- Harsh treatment of foreigners, strangers, and refugees
- Wicked trading practices with other nations. This is usually described in lurid sexual terms evoking harlotry, but the sin being discussed is economic, not sexual.
I am sure there are more. This is the general gist of Israel’s prophets, decrying nations for their lovelessness toward God and their neighbor. Jesus said that the whole law of Moses could be summed up in loving God with your whole being and loving your neighbor as yourself.
God will hold us accountable for how every human being is treated. Syrian humans. Unborn humans. Poor humans. Black humans. Immigrants. Women.
In reading Job and the Psalms, we can also see God’s cares for the earth and its creatures.
Jesus, as God who came in flesh, was remarkably indifferent to the politics of His day.
In the gospels, we find Jesus decrying hypocrisy and false worship and telling people to stop worrying so much about amassing wealth, but to trust God and care for the poor instead. He touched the lepers and healed them. He healed all who came to Him weighted down with infirmity, and charged nothing (how’s that for healthcare reform?) He was often swamped by the disabled, the outcast, and those suffering with mental illness. The poor flocked to him. The religious leaders stood at the fringes of the crowd, looking for a way to trap him. They feared Him because he was politically impractical, if the people followed Him as a King, the Romans would swoop in and take away whatever national sovereignty they had left. The Pharisees didn’t necessarily like Herod, but at least he was an evil they knew.
When backed into a corner to answer political questions, Jesus always brought to light the weightier issues.
Man trying to trick Jesus into making a political statement: Should we pay taxes?
Jesus: Show me the coin. Whose picture is on it?
Tricky guy: Caesar’s
Jesus: If Caesar’s picture is on it, then give it to Caesar. Render to God what belongs to God. (In this case the whole of our beings, as we bear His image.)
Jesus did not come to earth to start a political revolution, but to claim His rightful throne in the hearts and lives of every being on earth. His work on earth looked so much smaller than king making and grew to something so much greater than mere Rome.
The earth is the Lord’s and all it’s fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. Jesus doesn’t need to vote, that’s not how He went about things anyway.
When we look at the state of our nation today, we need to look through the lens of scripture and not just one political party’s platform. Christianity has no business in the kind of politics that builds godless empires while refusing to care for the poor. We have no business in the politics of mocking and mud slinging. We’d be better off working on the grassroots level, like Jesus did, and waiting for empires to rise and fall around us.
And so, dear Christian, I implore you, in the words of Peter’s 1st letter: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”