"Everything is permissible for me"-but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"-but I will not be mastered by anything
I Corinthians 6:12
As we head into a presidential election year, we can anticipate the spiraling intensity of political ads, with their slogans, rhetoric, and blatant manipulation of the facts. Complex discussions are reduced to simple and witty quips produced to be soundbits for the media. Unfortunately, this is not due to the media, but demanded by the American people. The American people have desired a simplicity that defies the incredibly intricate nature of issues that have global impact and thousands of moving parts. We see this in everything from immigration and healthcare reform, to taxation and even war.
What fascinates me the most about politics is that we, for the most part, have been captured by a few ideological concepts and we then filter what is being said through that preconceived ideology. We do not listen to inform, but simply to confirm. That which does not conform to our preconceived ideology, is seen as evil. Our preconceived ideologies often make it necessary to condemn other ideologies as evil, as opposed to just another way to skin a cat.
It is possible to be a Christian and be a capitalist, socialist, republican, democrat, Libertarian, or progressive. However, the trick is to never allow these ideologies to shape your outlook, but to submit every ideology, philosphy, and preconception to Jesus' demonstration of the preferred reality, described as the "Kingdom of God". This is the core of the Christian experience: To provide an alternative story to the stories being offered by the world of power, violence, and selfishness. The radicalness of Jesus was that he dared to demonstrate a better way. He did not submit to the imperial assimiliation (Sadduces), violent insurrection (zealots), radical separation (Essenes), or cultural superiority (pharisees). All of these ideologies of Jesus day, had some elements of truth. All were sound political approaches that oppressed peoples all over the globe have utilized successfully for their liberation, but Jesus was able to see a better way.
If you identify yourself as a follower of Jesus, please understand that your role is not develop a "Christian Kingdom" in America, or to make sure that all politicians are Christians. Your role is understand Jesus' Kingdom principles as an alternative to the condemned and flawed policies of empires throughout history.
Jesus never tried to run for office, lead an armed insurrection, or promote anarchy. His life and resurrection are a testimony to principles of life and love that while contrary to prevailing principles, eventually overcome and outlast the prevailing political movement of the day.
Some Kingdom Principles of Jesus:
1. Sacrifice for the common good trumps power for self. (Mt 10:28)
2. Love conquers all and is demonstrated in sacrificial care for the community. (John 21:15)
3. Optimism and Pessimism are fleeting, but true hope (confidence in the intervention of God in the future based upon his faithfulness) empowers through adversity. (Rom 12:12)
4. The means are as important as the end. Jesus' love ethic required that we ensure the dignity of others as a precondition for whatever the goal of our society is. (John 13:34-35)
5. The true measure of a society is not its wealth or production, but its treatment of the most poor and marginalized. (Mt 25:31-46).
Please consider Jesus' Kingdom way when you exercise your privilege of particpating in this grand experiment of democracy. Lets not settle for politics as usual, but see ourselves a catalysts for transformation.
May God bless you,
Pastor M Traylor