#9 Politics. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's." [Matthew 22:21]
In my first blog I addressed some of what I am about to say. However, I believe now is the time to codify some political thoughts as they pertain to faith. The presidential and local election season is quickly approaching and, I am sure, our precious Savior will be dragged into negative political discourse. Therefore, now may be the time to discuss political things.
The genesis of this thought process is something that I read recently in an online magazine concerning a Presidential Candidate. This particular presidential candidate has branded himself as a follower of Jesus Christ and has publicly stated that his faith was very important to him. The author of the article openly wondered how this politician could be affiliated with the political party that he was affiliated with and read the same Bible he was reading. Basically it was an article where the author said, "how can this person really be a Christian and be a part of the Party that he is?"
I have heard this question from many well-meaning Christians throughout the years. They do not understand how anyone who truly claims the name of Christ could, "vote a different way." I am here to tell you that I believe that there are authentic Christian Democrats and authentic Christian Republicans. There are authentic Christian independents as well. I have met them. Believe me, they are there.
What I have a real problem with is how both sides attempt to use Jesus to their advantage. I have heard Republicans clearly advocate that Jesus would be on, "their side" of any political debate; and I have heard Democrats use Jesus to their advantage as well.
Now, I want to be very clear about this. I absolutely, unequivocally believe that our faith should influence all that we do - and yes even how we vote. What I am saying is that well-meaning Christians, who are attempting to follow conscience, come to different political opinions.
In the above verse the religious leaders of the day were trying to, "suck" Jesus into a political controversy. They wanted to ask Jesus, "should we pay taxes to Caesar or not?" Now, the reason this was a loaded question was because if he were to answer, "yes" then the religious leaders of the day could paint him as a sympathizer to the Romans - for He's telling us to submit to their illegitimate rule. [Remember, at this time Rome occupied Israel and they occupied by force; therefore, they were an invading army] If Jesus were to answer, "no" then the religious leaders of the day could turn Jesus over to the Romans as a trouble-maker and have them jail Him.
Jesus asked for a Roman coin and was given one. [Interesting fact - those who did not think they should pay taxes to Caesar nonetheless used the Roman money...showing they already submitted to their rule...] He then asked, "whose inscription is on this?" The people replied, "Caesar's..." And Jesus said, "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's...Basically, Jesus was saying, "God has placed His name on you - give the coin to Caesar, give your life to the Lord."
I cannot overstress this - politics are important, but they are not as important as we make them. Jesus, in my opinion, was bothered about the pettiness of this. I can almost hear Jesus saying something along the lines of, "come on people...do we not have bigger things to talk about - like people dying and going to heaven and hell? I am here to save the Cosmos, not involve myself in the pettiness of all this..." [I understand it is extremely dangerous to put words in the mouth of Jesus, so forgive me if I upset you...]
Remember also this - Jesus pulled from amazingly different walks of life to be His disciples. Simon the Zealot was a disciple. The Zealots were people zealous for the political standing of Israel and advocated overthrowing Roman rule. He also chose Matthew - the tax collector; an individual who was working at the behest of the Romans. Jesus chose both to follow Him. Now, they changed no doubt - but the change was not so much political - it was a change that transformed them from looking to one realm to the next.
And I will say this - look at the book of Acts. What were the disciples doing there. Here we see the first Christians in action. And what action were they doing? What, "acts" of the Apostles do we see? We see them doing all they can to spread God's Word so that people would be saved. Period.
What is my point? My point is this. I do think we should work in our government. Christians need to be involved. Our Faith should guide who we vote for - amen. Yet, I still believe that Christian's can disagree over what is the best route for our government. What we cannot disagree about is this - the greatest way to change our culture is not the halls of Congress - it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and if Christians focused passionately on sharing the message of the love of God in Christ as passionately as they fight politically, we would see the culture change - not through the laws of men - but through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen.