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I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Okay, mostly I’ve been dreading the upcoming election and the upcoming fall out. At times like this, I find myself turning to God. Who should I vote for?

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Imagine my surprise when a recent sermon addressed this and so much else. You know the Biblical bit (theology ala Sue) where the Pharisees and the Herodians ask Christ if people should pay taxes? You’ll find it in Matthew 22:15-22.

Christ knows that they are trying to trap him so he asks to see a coin.

“Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

I was taught that this meant you should obey the government, pay your taxes and be a good citizen. Pretty handy little message for the PTB (powers that be).

But our pastor challenged us to remember just how wise Christ is. The coin was branded with the image of Caesar. Thus it was a Roman coin, part of Caesar’s empire. Christ was actually asking these people whose mark they carried – God’s or Caesar’s? Who did they serve – God or Ceasear?

When we argue politics and challenge people to vote this way or that way “as good Christians,” whose mark are we carrying? Are we carrying the mark of Christ? Or are we carrying a mark of Red or Blue?

Maybe instead of asking who someone is voting for, we should be asking other questions. Do you have the food you need? With winter coming on, are you warm enough? For those in the path of incoming storms, do you have what you need to ride it out?

If I carry the mark of Christ, it should be evident to those around me no matter which candidate they support.

–SueBE

The Friday before our local election day, one of the candidates showed up at my door with the “insider information” that I’m a mail-in voter and my ballot hadn’t yet been received.

“How do you guys know this, anyway?” I asked him. He said, “I don’t know, they just tell me, and I try not to get involved in the particulars.” I had put my ballot in the mail the day before.

So the powers-that-be know when my vote has been cast.

If they can know this about me, why don’t they know that I’ve contacted public officials to no avail for years about safety issues on my block, such as the lack of water run-off drainage? In the summer, this leads to the formation of a tiny river on the street in front of my house, causing cars to hydroplane. In the winter, it becomes a frozen lake so treacherous, I’ve seen cars spin out and nearly crash.

And why don’t they know that school kids have to walk to the bus stop in the street with cars whizzing by because only half of our block has sidewalks? 

As it turns out, we only had a 23% voter turn-out. If your representatives aren’t representing you, it’s time to turn them out. When it’s time for change, vote.

I’ve read a lot of conjecture lately about politics and God: Namely, how would Jesus vote? What party would He back? My conclusion? People can twist scripture to affirm any notion they care to affirm, from socialism (Christ did say, “Sell all you have and give your money to the poor”) to Ayn Rand-ian hyper-Capitalism (in Jesus’ parable, those who invested their talents were rewarded, and those who didn’t were punished). In the end, it’s a moot point. Jesus wasn’t about politics. He was about souls.

Still, there are those who argue that America is a Christian country. “One nation under God,” and all that. (No matter that the “under God” is a rather recent development.) If this is so — and I like to think America is more tolerant than to insist that only one religion is the right one — there are a few guiding qualities that we ought to have, attributes that surpass petty political squabbling.

Kindness: Are our politics (and politicians) kind? Is what they stand for kind? What is the kindest approach — the approach Christ would take — toward immigrants, the poor, minorities?

Inclusion: Tax collectors might have been the most detested people in Jesus’ time, but He not only spoke to them, He included them among His disciples. He embraced women, who were not even considered people in His time, but rather possessions. Are our political leanings inclusive? Who do they include? Who do they leave out?

Forgiveness: If there’s one thing Jesus stood for, it’s forgiveness. Are we forgiving toward those who disagree with our political point-of-view or do we trample all over them, hoping our louder voice will drown them out?

Love: God is love. If we want Him to be present in our politics, our politics had best be loving. Is it loving to deny rights to people? Is it loving to punish or impede the side we don’t agree with?

In the upcoming political season, let’s keep these qualities in mind.

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