Reading today’s news I came across an article titled, “A Theological Case for Low Expectations“. The article was pretty much just a ‘bashing’ of Donald Trump. However, the last line is what caught my attention and made me very sad. It read: “The spectacle of self-proclaimed Christian conservatives cheering a foul-mouthed ex-casino owner for his pledge to turn away refugees tells you pretty much everything you need to know about what the religious right has become—or maybe what it always was.” – Michelle Goldberg (Columnist for Slate and the author, most recently, of The Goddess Pose.)
I, like many people, am not overjoyed by the choices we have this political year. I will pray… and then I will vote for one of the two candidates. I’m proud and honored to live in a free country where I’m allowed to do both (pray and vote). I realize that many lives have been lost so that I could have those privileges. However, I am also proud to be a Jesus-Follower. He, being the Son of the only God, also died that I might have some pretty cool privileges (grace, freedom from sin, shame & guilt out the door). Unfortunately, mixing Jesus-Following and politics is sort of like mixing ice cream with cow manure. It may not do much to the manure, but it sure messes up the ice cream. Amid all the ‘noise’ of this disgusting political season, I, for one, am ready to turn off the news, pick up my Bible, and re-imagine the world.
Once upon a time there were no kings or presidents. Only God was King. The Bible is the story of a God Who is continually rescuing humanity from the messes we make of the world. God is bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth. God is leading humans on an exodus adventure out of the land of emperors and kings and into the Promised Land. Out of Egypt, God first saves a group of slaves from the tyranny of Pharaoh. God is the Deliverer, the one who saves them from their tears and sweat and points them toward something better than the empire that they have known. Out of the nations, God is forming a new kind of people – a “holy nation” that will light up the world. This is the nation that God is still forming… the nation of which I am thankfully a part.
I think it’s interesting that Jesus is not recorded as telling His followers, while He walked the planet, who they should vote for. He didn’t raise up an insurrection or a political revolt. He never demanded that His band of merry men and women storm the gates and overthrow anybody. As a matter of fact, He said things like, “Give to Caesar that which is Caesars“… and “My kingdom is not of this world“. He seemed to always be trying to get people to focus on Him and His reign, rather than the reigning systems and authorities of this world. Let’s remember this. Let’s remember that we’re commanded to be “in this world, but NOT of it“.
One of Jesus’ comforts for the burdened who were suffocating from Rome’s crown was the image of the yoke. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me…. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-29). The peasants to whom Jesus spoke knew the word ‘yoke’ well. It had a lot of different meanings. It was the tool used for harnessing animals for farming. It was the word used for taking on a rabbi’s teaching. Paul later used in his letter to those in Galatia to describe the heavy burden of sin. But yoke was also the word used for the brutal weight of slavery and oppression that the prophets call us to break (see Isaiah 58:6,9, among others). The weary of whom Jesus speaks are a tired people who have labored under the yoke of empire. Many Jesus-Followers today are feeling a heavy yoke and burden, as we watch so many changes being made to the land that we’ve loved and at one time proudly boasted as being, “One nation under God”.
We’ve had it relatively good in America. Things are changing. What are we going to do?
We’re going to drag our weary and burdened hearts to Jesus. We’re going to recognize that this world, and this nation, are not our ‘home’. Jesus is our home.
If you’re an American, please vote this coming election. Pray and then vote. “Yeah, but Michael… is it really right to vote for ‘the lesser of two evils’?” You bet it is.
However, our hope is not in who will be our nation’s next president… our hope is in Jesus. May you and I be a light in this dark world and as we watch it get darker, may we shine even brighter because we have the Light of the world living inside of us. Remember, it’s “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).