A small history lesson, or perhaps a reminder, then a fairly wide range of commentary from me follows.
THE JESUS MOVEMENT
Even prior to our conversion n the Jesus Movement days, most of us hippies and street people had learned a couple things:
You can't trust a government whose armaments are considered more essential than meeting hungry people's needs.
Secondly, you can have all the stuff, all the material possessions you'd care to stack up and it won't fill your need for God Himself.
Then came a third lesson right behind those two: being an American and being an authentic Christian in vital, daily relationship to Jesus Christ are not automatically one and the same.
God before flag. Discipleship First.
These were fairly common points of agreement among those called Jesus People across the western world.
My recent blog quoted a good friend who I believe, has a sense of the pulse of U.S. Christians. In that blog I quoted his top 3 issues of concern for the churches.
His fourth point? More and more evangelicals have embraced social justice and reconciliation. We recognize Micah 6.8 is a core matter, not a sideline issue in God's view. But fewer and fewer believers are verbally sharing the Good News, the basic Gospel of Jesus Christ in a clear, direct way.
I believe more Christ-followers SHOULD share the Gospel verbally, and back it up with their attitudes and lifestyle choices.
An aside: what feels more "safe", evangelism or worship? Worship or discipleship? But I digress…
I also believe that so many have verbalized a Good News they've not lived… -and- that the message of Christ has so often been laced with a kind of extreme nationalism that many people both young and old reject Jesus, the church and believers alike.
Many Christians are thought of as dumb, maybe racist and even war-mongers to the extent many younger and non-churched, "post-Christian" people don't think we are worth listening to in the first place.
While I don't always agree with this judgment of Christians in my country, sometimes I must admit we are guilty as charged.
Multiculturalism and racism are still issues among us and they tend to build walls rather than bridges. There is a difference between God drawing a line and you and I drawing one.
Certainly there is a strong rebellion against Christ and His Word in people. All are sinners. But it's also convenient to blow off truth about our own sins and extremism as Christians to the end we consider ourselves righteous in all our ways. Paul makes the exact same argument regarding the Jews. Consider yourself righteous and all unlike you, all who think differently as outside the family of God… and you've already blown it.
I personally have deep convictions about what the Bible says about morality -and not only sexual but with regard to life and death issues of all sorts. I have voted in nearly every election over my lifetime… and get the fact some believe all Christians in all ways are hardcore right-wing, period. Not so.
ARE all Christians hardwired to the "right" politically? Absolutely not. There are exceptions all over the place just as there are in every denomination, house church and any type of Christian assembly. We really aren't the penguins some think we are. But this also angers many of us who want all Christ-followers to be in lock-step.
Not all individual churches, denominations, associations or house churches think, believe, vote or act the same- never have and in this world, never will. If this is the case among Christians regarding biblical interpretation- how is it the very same should not be true with regard to political positions?
I suggest we not forget that there are plenty of ways to bring destructive mayhem that any demonized nut-job much less religious fanatic can figure out by a simple web search. In plain English, any true democracy (which is my personal favorite and I'm serious about this!!) will always have leaks in the dyke. Neither police nor military can fully prevent calamity!
If the former Soviet Union, present-day China and other hugely repressive regimes couldn't (and didn't) fully prevent bomb and other attacks by these regimes massive political, military and secret police power what makes us think by electing this or that free, Western government will?
There is no fail-safe, face it.
The same principle goes for verbally sharing the Gospel of Christ. Same deal. You may think someone will or won't attack you, but in the end you don't have control over it- and you never did!
A LIVING WAGE & "BIG FIX"
No government can fully protect a nation with such incredibly long borders, a public who on one hand wants more protection and a greater sense of security (remembering 9-11!) yet doesn't want to pay for it. Then again, we can spend zillions on defense (fighting our enemies "over there") when our own inner-cities drop further down the toilet with drug dealing and prostitution which are the easiest (argggh… garbage and filth) job opportunities some in the ghetto currently have available. Make no mistake, I'm not saying this is cool nor that I like or approve of it!
There is also a sentiment that the private sector will do more to help America than elected officials. My caveat to this is simple… you cannot vote the private sector out every four years if they mis-manage and rip people off. Hello?!
So… the govn't will fix Everything… or the private sector will?!
BIBLICAL, MORAL VALUES
I prayed for, felt sorry for and worried over our military in Vietnam. Regardless of your feelings or position on that "police action", too many returned home in coffins or not at all. Plenty are still in mental hospitals, in urban or small town parks sleeping under rags and newspapers, a great many returned addicted or joined those ranks afterward.
Iraq and Afghanistan as well as plenty of other issues have helped spawn a greater number of incidents of suicide among our military. This is tragedy piled atop tragedy.
Again, the Jesus freaks were in process of being set free from drug addiction and yet understood how to be compassionate to people battling addictions. And we were not always for tossing people in jail as some sort of "fix" to the problem.
Perhaps like myself you've watched the Drug Enforcement Agency documentaries via the National Geographic (I think it was Natl. G.) Channel regarding Mexican (and perhaps other) drug cartels extending their farming in seven (or was it nine?) southwestern U.S. states over the past several years?
Can we not face the fact that our nation is the number one market for illegal drugs on earth? This is WHY the cartels are successful. Enough of us buy what they sell. Simple capitalism to them.
These are some of the reasons I fully disagree with the concept of spending more money for overseas warfare.
Further, we must somehow get beyond the idea of either becoming an armed camp of a nation who can only keep peace and security by an overbearing police and/or military presence on the one hand- as well as understanding the huge number of people in the U.S. in deep need of basic food, housing and legal living-wage job opportunities on the other.
While there has been a great deal of talk, I'm more and more concerned that just as the old adage goes "ten percent of the congregation does ninety percent of the work", so it seems some of us think a vote will be a big fix for these several moral dilemmas.
Just as many think they're "voting Christian" regarding abortion and sexual preference matters, the rest of these issues seem to be of little real concern. Plenty of folks are vilifying, some even un-Christianizing people on the basis of their vote. It's sort of a twist on "Of COURSE I'm a Christian, I'm an AMERICAN". Nonsense. It was nonsense in the sixties and seventies and it's nonsense today.
If you or I judge everyone who is not a part of our particular flavor of church as an unbeliever, I simply want to ask you if you happen to have a copy of the Lamb's Book of Life on your shelf? Would you dare to consider this principle in light of a particular vote??!
We're not the only nation, nor is this the only time in history where we mixed "patriotism" with "genuine Christianity". But sometimes it seems we really carry on as if "Anybody who doesn't think and vote like I DO is insane, demonized, not -really- saved, ignorant, and likely both deluded and evil".
My friends and any who would consider me an enemy: THIS is the same position Hitler took in a time of severe depression and political upheaval in 1930's Germany. This sort of rounding up the wagons and shooting at anyone who doesn't agree with -me- or -us- is fruitless, hopeless and in the end, loveless.
With regard to Jesus and His Good News (and even Tina Tuner's lyric), what DOES love have to do with it? This is where a credible witness to those presently without faith in Jesus Christ comes into play.
I'm not saying we cannot be deeply passionate about our personal or local church position. I'm saying there are too many witch-hunts percolating under the surface, even in some of our churches.
There is PLENTY I disagree with: both right and left. Plenty.
I do believe voting will make some sort of difference, but I do not think the sky will fall.
There are those who want you and I to think otherwise.
ACTUAL SALVATION, SPIRITUAL CITIZENSHIP
Salvation first of all, is about personal faith, relationship, commitment and the love of Jesus Christ who died, rose again and will one day fold this world up like a scroll.
It is not about -any- earthly election.
Salvation is sourced -only- in the blood of the Savior, not the blood of any other person or people group.
Regardless of your vote, what about your verbal and daily lifestyle example of what a God-and-people loving Christian looks like?
I ask myself the same question, and often must repent. We truly need to wake up and just like each new day, first take an honest look in the mirror.
Life begins and ends with Jesus. Our citizenship is in heaven. Let's keep our hand to the most important plow, that of loving God and our neighbor.
Mercy Father God!! -Glenn