As American presidential candidates enter the arena, it’s time for my quadrennial series of posts about our thoughts, words and behavior as Christians around this event. I always seem to approach this with a heavy heart. I worry my words will be ignored by those whose conviction is more important than relationship. Not with me, but with Jesus.
So, I begin this first post with a prayer for unity – one Jesus himself prayed.
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:20-23)
As we become more enamored with our thoughts and decisions, the more we become convinced of the way it ought to be. We’re so convinced we become converted to our reasons to win – our agendas to advance – our rules to follow – the ones we massage and manipulate and put in Jesus’ mouth.
29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Matthew 19:29-30)
How many of us in the Western World have decided it is our right – no, our God-given destiny – to enter or participate in politics in a way that allows us to speak with authority about “issues.” How many of us have decided “our side” needs to win elections and carry out God’s will?
It’s not about what we DO for Jesus. It’s about our relationship with Him. It is clear Jesus did not consider power, wealth, authority and status important. When Salome, the mother of James and John, (who Jesus nicknamed the sons of thunder) begged Jesus to give her sons special status, he responded in a way that made it unequivocal to Salome and to all the disciples what he thought about such things (emphasis mine):
25 Jesus called the apostles and said, “You know that the rulers of nations have absolute power over people and their officials have absolute authority over people. 26 But that’s not the way it’s going to be among you. Whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant. 27 Whoever wants to be most important among you will be your slave. 28 It’s the same way with the Son of Man. He didn’t come so that others could serve him. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many people.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
How many of us are sons and daughters of thunder when it comes to our own righteousness? How many of us are immovably on one side of the abortion / LGBT / prayer in schools / immigration / second amendment issues? Why do these have to be arguments or litmus tests?
Why do we allow The Enemy to throw us into disunion over these questions?
How many give The Enemy a foothold by ranting on Facebook, “liking” a negative comment, telling or passing along a political joke, or refusing or forgetting to pray for those in office?
How many vote for rulers rather than advocates? Arrogant leaders rather than humble servants? Divisive politicians rather than representatives who work for unity?
If you think Jesus’ words are different than the Father’s or weaker than God’s, think again:
John 1:18 No one has ever seen God. God’s only Son, the one who is closest to the Father’s heart, has made him known.
John 10:30 – “I and the Father are one.”
John 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Whatever else is going on, we must remember to walk with Jesus.We must trust his words, not words we wish he had said. If we show contempt, sarcasm or bitterness; if we resort to nastiness, hostility and hatefulness, all we do is place stumbling blocks in front of those who may have been walking toward Jesus. We hide our light in obscurity. We contaminate our salt.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)