Saturday, September 24, 2011

By Their Fruit…

By Their Fruit…

I confess, I’m a bit of a political junkie (or “wonk” if you prefer).  I’ve been at least minimally involved since before I was old enough to vote-actively lobbying for the “18 year old” vote back in the ‘60s.  And yep I was sort of arrested for it too.  At the time, I was 17, married to someone serving in the military (this during Viet Nam war) and who was also 17! It just didn’t seem fair that he could serve but not vote.  BTW, I was also honored to serve a little bit later.

Over the years, I’ve continued to follow the major elections and in the last few years as I’ve gotten older, continue to be somewhat active in the campaigns of the candidates of my choice.  I consider myself an independent moderate and register and vote that way too.  I love my country and am so blessed to have been born an American with the multitude of freedoms that we have…freedoms that aren’t available in a lot of other places in this world.  My most precious freedom is to worship as I choose and I have chosen to follow Jesus, His teachings and all that is written in the Bible.  Truth be told, I love God and by His strength live this way each and every day.

OK, so now you have a bit of background on where I stand.  My priorities in life could be stated simply as 1.) God (as a Christian) and 2.) Country (as an American).  For sure, I have a lot of others but for the purpose of the thoughts to follow, I’ll leave it at that. When entering the voting booth, these two priorities are fundamental to my choices.

If you haven’t already noticed, we’re at the beginning of what promises to be a very contentious election season although the actual voting isn’t for almost 14 months…and already the competition to be the next president of our USA has gotten heated.  The political party hoping to gain the job currently has 8-9 contenders and so there have already been a number of televised debates.  Have you watched any of them?  While I’m not happy with the current economy and overall state of our country (been out of work myself for quite awhile), I have been unhappy with some of what I’ve heard from these hopeful politicos.  And so I will likely choose to re-elect our current president. (Just trying to be honest here…I like what he’s trying to do…most of the time.  I read his book “The Audacity of Hope” and have no doubt of his love of country (or his birthplace and eligibility to hold this highest office). I agree with where he’d like to see our country go, what his hopes were and likely still are.

That being said, I also want to hear what those seeking the office have to say-with a completely open mind.   Quite a few of the candidates freely profess Jesus, and claim their faith and beliefs in Him as Lord.  Unfortunately, during a few of these debates I was shocked at some of what was said, and also by what was not said, when many of the audience cheered for things that are so out of line with His teachings. 

A few examples…

Most recently, an active duty U.S. Marine was booed after asking a questions about “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” change in policy. While the candidate later said he would have said something if he’d heard the crowd, I’m afraid I have to wonder.  What really scares me is that someone who freely and truthfully discloses something as personal as this-to an outwardly and supposedly gung-ho patriotic and “Christian” audience was so vehemently aggressive in their distaste for homosexuality. I have to wonder what the response might have been if this soldier hadn’t disclosed his orientation.  I realize that homosexuality is not something God wants for us....But is there one person out there who hasn’t sinned?  I don’t think so (Romans 3:22–25).  

In another debate, a candidate almost bragged about his state executing more people than any other. ..And again, the audience cheered. The same was true when a candidate spoke about allowing a person who can’t afford or doesn’t have medical insurance to just die.  Again, no protest from the candidates. And these are the same folks who generally disagree with the idea of folks needing to purchase this same insurance.  Can you say hypocrite?

Needless to say, I’m confused. These candidates and their supporters are fond of saying this is a Christian nation.  They talk of values, and morality and ethics and yet here they are showing no love, no mercy and no compassion!!!  I just don’t get it-where are their priorities-REALLY?  Are they truly followers of Jesus and desire to live by his teachings or is that conditional on how popular their words make them? And the audience? It seems to me that when their favorite politician tickles their ears it shows more about what's really most important to them and their true, deeper feelings.  I could go on with other stuff but I think you get the idea. 

What the Bible says…

So, here are a few things from the Word that color my choices.  I hope you will take it to heart and know that I’m not picking on a particular party, candidate or political ideology.  I just don’t like double minded folks and hypocrites and neither does the Lord!
  •  Matthew 7:15–16 They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them.  (Read Matthew 7:15–23 for context)
  •   Galatians 5: 22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (sound like a politician to you?)
  • Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
  • John 3:16 (If you don’t know this one…shame on you! ) Emphasis for me is “so loved the WORLD”
  • Mark 12:31 with Luke 10:30–37.  …and who is your neighbor?
·         In Matthew 23 (and elsewhere) Jesus spoke of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. 

I suppose I could go on forever!  Scripture is so rich with guidance on how to use the privilege we have of choosing our leaders…especially if our first priority as Christians is truly following Christ. To sum up and (finally) get to the point—I have two issues that really upset me during the political season. One is hypocrisy and the other is that it seems that so many believe everything that these “would be Caesars” say without verifying and/or listening to multiple views. I am hoping that you’ll read this and comment whether agreeing with me or not. I WANT to hear your views.  I want to know what criteria you have for choosing our leaders.  More than that, I hope you will put your faith before your politics, and really evaluate the one you would choose-and decide what is more important to you-God or country…and act on it  as you think Jesus might. (And don't forget to register to vote!)

I leave you with this:
1 Cor. 13:13  (again, read the full chapter for maxium value) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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