I promised myself I wouldn’t get any deeper into politics. We live just about an hour and a half north of Philadelphia and, this week, the news was filled with coverage of the Democratic National Convention.
I’ve written before about my fondness for Philly. I love the history, the environment, the passion. This Sunday I’ll be going down to Lincoln Financial Field to watch the Philadelphia Eagles and their first of two camps they hold at the stadium that are open to the public.
The news played all kinds of clips of speeches and analysis from the DNC. When I got home from work, thumbing through my Facebook feed, I came across an article that is the catalyst for this post. It was titled Why You Can’t be a Christian and a Democrat, written by a popular conservative blogger.
In it, he laid out a response to one of his critics where he swore his argument citing multiple Bible verses.
I can’t take it anymore.
There’s a place in the gospels where Jesus is asked about paying taxes. For a nation being occupied by Rome at the time, this was a question meant to trap him. Answer the wrong way and the religious leaders could run to the local government officials and have Jesus arrested.
He replies asking about whose face is on the currency of the day. Someone responds that it is Caesar’s. Jesus states, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.”
He makes a response, more than once, to criticize the leaders of the day for exploiting the people. He calls for unity and, despite the frustration of the crowd, does not lead a political revolution.
Jesus transforms every breath of the universe.
We’ve missed the point. Those of us who claim to follow Jesus grasp so hard on what is “ours.” We hold the church close and circle our wagons pointing fingers out at the crowds that drive by.
We forget the final instruction Jesus gave before he returned to heaven.
What does this mean?
Jesus followers are not a political party. They are not Republicans or Democrats. They are not Libertarians. They are not represented by anyone standing in front of a pulpit giving an acceptance speech this November at the White House. They are not exclusive to a country or economic systems.
Those who claim to follow Jesus are defined by love. They move in acceptance. They love their neighbors and drop the first stone they are ready to cast in anger. They serve. They live and push for unity.
They stand against hate.
For I believe every soul has a fragment of Heaven inside, a radar beacon calling them towards home. I believe God longs for unity, for one person to go in step with another and make their lives better by sharing their joy.
There is a reason Jesus advocated good citizenship.
Because this is not our home. This is a temporary address change. Time will pass. Here’s what you must understand:
Your vote at the box in November will not make a difference.
What makes a difference is the choice, on a daily basis, to do better. To open your heart further and deeper. To work on your marriage and your family. To show love and embrace someone on the outside. To know that we are called to direct people towards Jesus.
When the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia so long ago, it had to be distributed throughout the colonies. The authors hit post on the historical version of WordPress, people absorbed the message, and the flames of rebellion were born.
It is time to do the same with our faith and in our communities across the nation, to not be pulled into the noise and posturing of the upcoming election. To move away from media and towards the cross.
So maybe the author of that click-bait article was right. Maybe those of us not voting for Trump are using watered-down versions of the Bible.
Or maybe we are looking towards the one force strong enough to make true change in this world. It will not come through building a wall, defunding controversial agencies, legalizing millions of immigrants, higher taxes, lower taxes, socialism, or fascism.
It will come through faith. Through understanding that God longs for a relationship with me and you. He pulls us closer with every headline and story. He tugs at our hearts with the echoes of home captured in the fading glory of sunsets or the laughter of a child.
When the noise gets too much, remember where you are from and where you are called to go. Remember this is only temporary, that the space in your heart can be filled with Jesus, that the longing for completion can be answered at the foot of the cross.
Know that you can, finally, be free.