Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stuff I Should Write and then Delete

I recently met a Georgian (from the country, not the state) who is breaking free from a cultural, religious, legalistic view of Christianity that his Eastern Orthodox tradition had given him. He is learning that following Jesus is more about a relationship with a living God and choosing to do the right thing in every circumstance, not simply following a list of rules where they apply and doing whatever you feel like wherever there are no traditional guidelines.

Based on his background, I was only slightly surprised when his first question after learning I was a US citizen was, “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?”

Without a hint of ironic intent, my answer was, “Neither. I am a Christian.”

As a believer, my hope and allegiance belong to Christ. I respect the authority and the laws of the land where I live and also where my citizenship resides. But my confidence and security come from a different Kingdom altogether. My future is not tied to that of any country or government.

What a lot of Christian leaders have tried to teach over the years is that our future and hope rest in one particular political party. They argue that the country will cease to exist if the truly evil party gains control, so our responsibility as followers of Christ is to endorse the other party. That’s what Jesus would do. The funniest thing is, that there are Christian leaders making this same argument for both sides of the coin.

The problems with this are many. It argues that God isn’t in control. That our political system will determine what God is able to do or not. That our only valid political action as believers is to cast a vote every so often. And that we have just two options from which to choose.

And that last one is particularly bad. It is faulty logic and leads people to embrace a wrong out of fear of a greater wrong. What Jesus wants from His followers is to always do what is right and leave the consequences—easy or hard—to Him.

A crass example that nonetheless exposes the flaws of this approach well goes as follows: Suppose a man straps a bomb to your chest and tells you he will kill you if you don’t make a choice: you have to murder a woman or rape her. Do you chose the lesser of two evils? Or do you do the right thing?

If you refuse to endorse hatred and fear mongering from one side, you are not by default electing the other side. If you chose to vote for a hypothetical third choice that has no chance of winning, you are not helping one of the other two parties. You are doing your civic duty and expressing your opinion by standing behind something right instead of following a pied piper and embracing a “lesser” wrong.

And you can remind those who tell you it’s your fault the country is going down the tubes because you aren’t willing to get your hands dirty and endorse a fear mongering, power hungry, racist, loose cannon that they are wrong. I live in a country that ignored such warning signs in favor of a man who promised to make their nation great again. It did not go well at all. You are simply standing for what is right and trusting God to be in control. And He never promised that doing the right thing would be easy or safe. In fact Jesus told His followers that it would be dangerous and the world would hate them for it.

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