This is another aside post that is somewhat linked to the previous one. In that post I discussed how I replied to some fellow Christians Facebook comments about how it was not the government’s job to take care of the poor. These Christians admitted, but it seems not many of them do, that it is the church’s job to do that. I then went on to agree with them fully. I’m sure they were surprised with my agreement. But I then went on to say since the church presently only takes care of about three percent of the need the government must step in to fill this enormous gap. At the conclusion of that post I mentioned that I hope I planted a small thought in their hearts.
That got me to thinking about all the arguments and such between our political parties. Each party seems to think that somehow they can turn their advocate around if they could just win this discussion or make that particular statement. They think that somehow they can cause a person to flip on a dime with their world views.
This type of logic is not limited to politics; it also occurs frequently in our cross-denominational struggles with the Christian church. There are currently about 39,000 different versions of Christianity out there. Each one is convinced that they are right and everyone else just has it wrong in one way or another. Many are convinced if they can just quote the right Bible verse then their opponents will give up their current way of being a Christian and join them.
Disregarding the overall premise of these examples the logic of a quick “win” is, at least in my mind a faulty conclusion. Once a person has it in his/her mind that their party/church/way of life is the correct one it is almost impossible to get them to change their minds. The only thing that we can hope to do is to give them a little nudge in the direction you want them to head. Then over the years enough nudges might get them to re-think what the previously thought to be untrue.
You can’t change a Tea Party Republican into a moderate one let alone a Democrat by winning one or even many arguments. But if you can put a small thought in their mind that their current way of thinking lacks something maybe eventually they will eventually come around. If you can plant a seed in a Christian who believes that his version of Christianity is without error maybe she/he will eventually look at those words of Jesus in a different light than the spin they have been taught.
Except for a few very very rare occurrences these things just don’t happen overnight. They take a long stream of nudges to make them happen. When we realize that fact we will treat our opponents, although we will come to know that they are not really opponents, in a different light. Remember the secret to this is nudges not insults or rants….
I just went another short round with my radical right gun totting evangelical friend on helping those less fortunate than us. Here are some of his words replying to a post I made on FaceBook.
The root cause of most of our deficit problems is still those that work and produce must pay for the existence of all those that do not work or produce goods and services. Few functions in the government produce a good or service worthy of a salary.
My conservative evangelical friend very very often shouts that there are just too many “free loaders” in our country who are purposely living off the government instead of going out and getting jobs. His solution seems to be to just cut them off at the ankles and if they can’t exist then it is their problem; “those people” should not be our problems. They are simply a drain on our society! They are keeping us from thriving. Of course he also goes on to say in this quote that anyone employed by our government are also free-loaders; they just get their money from a different pot! In this blanket statement he is including our teachers, fire fighter, policemen, government agents, FBI, FDA, Justice Department, social service agencies, and thousands of other workers trying to help us accomplish a safe and meaningful life.
There are so many places in Jesus’ words that are very counter to my conservative friend’s foundations; I just fail to understand how he, and so many supposed Christians like him, can so easily ignore those messages. Jesus clearly tells us to be our brother’s keeper and even to joyfully give them the shirt off our backs if they need it. But, my conservative friend doesn’t seem joyful about anything in his life except maybe his guns and other similar stuff.
In talking with my conservative friend and so many like him I have come to find that his core political and seemingly life driving belief is that no one should get anything that they haven’t worked for and earned. He rants and rants about this on every opportunity. What is so strange about this is that he then goes on to state that his spiritual foundations are that Jesus died for his salvation and there is nothing he can or even need to do to earn it. Therefore he readily admits that spiritually he is a free-loader himself who is getting something he as absolutely not earned.
How can a person’s political beliefs be so much in contrast to his supposedly spiritual beliefs? How can a person who calls himself a Christian totally lack compassion for those less fortunate them himself? This dichotomy continues to thoroughly astound me! How can the two co-exist in one person. How can a person accept Jesus’ sacrifices and then go on to ignore his words and adamantly refuse to help those around him who are struggling for even the basics in life???
The sad thing about all of this is that my conservative friend has many other who think the same way as he does surrounding him on his weekly church visits. They are all hunkered down talking about the evil world out there and ranting and raving about people who are getting something they didn’t earn and then they go on to say that they are getting something they absolutely did not earn themselves. Many in this category truly in a heartfelt manner question why institutional church today is getting such a bad wrap lately. They seem dumbfounded by that fact. If they would get stop and listen to themselves once in a while they would know the reason.
I just wanted to make a quick post in honor of Senator Ted Kennedy. It’s a shame that his life long passionate goal of making healthcare a right instead of a privledge for ALL Americans did not become a reality while he was with us. I know he was an honorable Christian and a good Catholic. Here’s to you Ted I hope your dream becomes a reality soon.
I know there are those out there who would like to trash his memory over issues you disagreed with him on. But, this is not the appropriate time and since I won’t approve them on this blog today, this is not the appropriate place.
In the last post I brought forth the proposition that God loves all of humanity and does not particularly bless one world government more than another. I also pointed out that many today think that if we could just turn the US into a Christian theocracy everything would be wonderful. I pointed out that we have had Christian theocracies in the past and they were no more like Jesus (i.e.. The kingdom of God) than those pagan governments around them. And many times even worse!
This post I will spend some time talking about how I believe that a follower of Jesus should interact with kingdoms of this world (the United States in particular). Jesus made it clear that we are to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. To me that means keeping the two somewhat separate but that does not mean Christians should have total indifference to world kingdoms?
In the early centuries of the Christian phenomenon government officials were actually told to find another profession after they converted to the “Way”. The same went for soldiers. But, I don’t think that meant that we Christians were meant to stay out of the politics of this world entirely. Obviously Jesus said leave to Caesar what is Creaser’s and to God what is God’s. I earlier stated that I don’t think Jesus was political but you should not infer that he was not interested in things that are handled in the political sphere. John Howard Yoder in his book the Politics of Jesus does a good job of pointing this out. The problems we Christians get into today is that we latch on to some kingdom issues in politics and then somehow buy the whole package of that political party. For some it is abortion and therefore the Republican party. For others it is issues such as healthcare or safety net issues and therefore it is the Democratic party. We have to be very aware of such allegiances of accepting the bad with the good. It reflects poorly on the Kingdom of God and possibly drives many away. We should not be strict Republicans or Democrats but should instead back Kingdom related issues in whichever party they occur. As Jim Wallis and Sojourners bumper sticker says “God is NOT a Republican, or a Democrat”.
But Jesus also indicated that where Caesar conflicted with God, God must win out for all Christians. In my mind it is kind of tricky just how involved we Christians should be in political affairs. The two extremes seem to be to stay out of it entirely or to reach for a Christian Theocracy. The optimum point is obviously somewhere between these two extremes. I don’t know personally where the ideal point is so I tend to try to stay closer to the non-involvement end but where safety net issues are concerned I tend to be very active.
Greg Boyd’s post on his blog entitled “The Patriot’s Bible – Really” is very insightful in this area. That is why it is in the “inspiring” block on the right side of this blog”. Just click on that link to see the text. One ironic point that Dr. Boyd made is that the early Christians were persecuted for being unpatriotic. They would not bow to Caesar or other such things. That seems to be the opposite of today where so many Christians are thoroughly attached to world kingdoms and not so much to the Kingdom of God. At least that is how I see it.
The book “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Pastor Boyd did a lot in shaping my thoughts in this area. I would highly recommend the book to anyone. But, if you are one to believe that Jesus particularly blesses America then be prepared to have that myth thoroughly destroyed by his biblical insight. To some it will be uncomfortable reading but well worth it if your current worldview eventually gives way to the kingdom of God view.
Last time I pointed out a couple of reasons why I believe that the phrase Taking America back for God to be erroneous statement. This time I will expand my thoughts on this topic and talk about allegiances.
Does God recognize governments and give some more blessings than others? — Except for Israel of course there is little evidence of that in Jesus’ words. And even for Israel, in my mind, refers to the people who have a relationship with God and not the political nation either then or now. God infinitely loves all his children no matter what their nationality or politics is. He loves that child who died of starvation within the last 30 seconds in an African country just as much as he loves you or your children. I don’t think Jesus is much on national identities. After all he even associated with Samaritans! That was a definite political no-no in his days.
Christian Theocracies – We have had Christian Theocracies at various times in world history but we never see them end up acting Christ like. In fact they usually ended up looking pretty much like all the other pagan nations around them. We waste a lot of our energy as Christians today in the United States trying to establish a political kingdom that is Christ like. Jesus rejected that idea when he was walking this earth so I don’t think he would condone it now. Not even for the United States of America.
Where should our allegiances be?
Next time I will talk more about Jesus and politics and summarize this discussion. As usual I welcome any comments you wish to post as long as they remain civil.