Post elections conversations about the kingdom, Jesus, and politics

So now that things are settled, I hope that questions and conflict regarding my perspectives on Non-voting can be minimized to a more constructive conversation on how we view our relation with the national government (side note… great post by Mark Van Steenwyk on this issue here).

I’ve had so many conversations in the last few days, and I hope there are more. Below is a dialog that I have been having with some friends via email. It lays out a lot of my own thoughts on some of these issues.

you say something about taking a stand and letting true beliefs show through….I guess I see a paradigm difference between “taking a stand” and “everything’s all cool, everyone can be who they want to be.”

What I originally said was: “Our decisions to take a stand for what we believe, to live differently, to value life, should not be swayed or altered by some leader of the empire.” What I meant by this is that the world needs consistency of practice. The world will only be changed significantly by those who are living consistently the values of the kingdom of God… over and above all else. So if I value life, then I am going to promote life on all levels whether abortion is legal or not. If I value community and taking care of my neighbor, what happens economically, with taxes, or with gas prices will not change that. And presidents surely don’t change that. It changes how we live it, but not THAT we live it. This is what I prioritize.

What I adhere to is a movement towards a whole existence following of the way of Jesus. For me, I don’t care if someone thinks they have all the right “values,” “beliefs,” or “facts” figured out in their head. If they aren’t living it, they don’t have a lot to offer me. And if someone is actively pursuing a more unified and loving world… they are beginning to move in the way of Jesus. I am SO committed to this that I refuse to do something as compromising as choosing the lesser of two evils to run for a national office… especially when I see Jesus modeling a leadership of sacrifice not power assention. His way was subversive and humble.

What about absolutes?  Do you still exist anymore?  That’s a deep one to ponder!!   I’d actually be really curious to hear your thoughts on that one. )  What about moral absolutes?

I am not sure how to answer the question of whether I exist. I don’t think I really need to. Of course we do… but I don’t see how absolutes fit into whether we exist. I am thinking, however, that your question about absolutes has something to do with what someone said a while back about there being an increase in immorality in the next 4 years. By immorality, I assume we are talking homosexuality… anything else?

As I mentioned something about homosexuality in my last note… I will just say that I don’t have a definitive answer on whether homosexuality is right or wrong. Let’s say I stray towards thinking that it is not in line with God’s intended plan for humanity. As a follower of the Jesus way, though, I think it is more destructive for me to focus on the immorality and condemnation of that rather than build relationships with those who are gay and repent for the way the church has treated them. There are more important things to be concerned about.

From what I see from Jesus, homosexuality is a less immoral thing to be concerned about than things like loving your neighbor, not worrying, individualism, consumerism, pursuit of power, religiousity, pride, selfishness, doing good to your enemies, not killing, serving one master (something that distances me from being engaged in the national political process), etc. So to me these are just as immoral. And just as absolute. For me, absolute means no compromise… not even voting for someone who has less immoral stances than the other.

And then the idea of being too enmeshed in the system?  How can anyone claim to not be enmeshed in some type of system,

The only system that I want to be “enmeshed” in is the kingdom of God. Being enmeshed means that I compromise one for the other. i never want to compromise the kingdom of God for something else… especially something like the nation of America. We ask ourselves the questions of “how can I be a responsible CEO as a Christian? How can I go to war as a responsible Christian? How can I live with  incredible power as a Christian?” What we should be asking, in my opinion, is “How can I be true to Jesus in this messed up world? What must I do to actively take a stand as a set apart people?” This often means not participating in this world’s ways of taking a stand.

especially with our God given right to chose our leaders based upon character and whom we deem best to lead.  that is a privilege.  That is our right as Americans, as humans, as Christians.

I guess I see “right” as something that is inherent in our existence that we can claim. Especially when it comes to God. That is our right as Americans. If you can show me anywhere that says that God has given Americans a right that he hasn’t given others… I will be impressed. God-given rights are things that span across humanity. That voting is a God-given right or a right that we have as Christians is perhaps the most telling statement of the confusion that we have gotten ourselves into as Americans. Is going in with our military and killing innocent people also a right that we have? Is going out and spending all of our money on useless things a God-given right as well? Privileges are not rights. I think that it is almost a Jesus mandate that we give up our privileges for the sake of the other and the kingdom of God. Phillipians 3 talks about that.

There are many other in the world who would give anything to chose between two great candidates.  That is a good problem to have.

“Great” for America… but not great in the eyes of the kingdom. The Greatest will be the least of these. The children, the homeless, the depressed, the homosexuals, the imprisoned… those who think they have no place in the kingdom of God. It is those who are great in the eyes of Religion and this world who are lost… I’m sorry, but that is what Jesus said and lived.

it’s just the ideals of the party..

This was said in regards to being ok with Obama, but not with the democratic party. This is why I do not participate in party politics. This is why I did not vote for any individuals, only state and local policies. Party politics, left / right, conservative / liberal (I can’t believe how 4 years ago we were running around yelling “frickin libs!!”), democrat / repulican… all of these are some of the most divisive things within the existing and historical body of Christ. It is absolutely detrimental to the growth of the kingdom. To lump ourselves on either side means we are forced into being associated with things that are not Jesus. It is inevitable… the poles were created by values of this world’s systems.

So there you have it… my response. I tried not to lob too many bombs on you guys. This is just where I am… I am in the process of trying to line my life up with my convictions. This takes much longer than I could imagine.

Thanks for the dialog,
Nate

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3 thoughts on “Post elections conversations about the kingdom, Jesus, and politics”

  1. I love to read the writings of other people that I really don’t know and then realize how small this world really is. The thought that God is in control is a big thought, the fact is a big fact, but the reality is so small for so many.
    Being a part of this community of believers is not to say we all meet on Sunday for an hour and sing some cool songs. This is our community, and furthermore, this is our church, in fact it is His church.
    I write about this very subject so much and have wondered for so long why more are not outraged by what is going on. Funny thing though, there are thousands of people out there who are the hands and feet of Jesus who understand what and who we are.
    Thanks Nate.
    D

    Like

  2. Nate,
    You say you want to follow the Kingdom model set up by Jesus, the same model that says “the least shall be the greatest” and “whatever you do to the least of these my brethren you have done to me”
    and encourages us to give food to the hungry, water to the thirsty and clothes to the naked.
    These are tangible “things” but unless someone gives, who can receive?
    When you sit idly by with a sack of food while a child outside your front door starves, you in essence helped him starve by your lack of choosing to “do”. that is by not helping him you made a choice to help him starve.
    During nearly the first two centuries of this country Blacks were treated as less than human, WE the PEOPLE changed that!!!
    Those who voted to put people in office who were in favor of rights for blacks helped, those who did not helped the continuance of injustice.
    There is no middle ground for the christian to stand… That was the point of many of Jesus sermons.. not doing what is right is the same as casting your lot with those who do wrong.
    Not voting is the same. Period. When you have the power to do that which is right and choose not to exercise it you abandon those who don’t have that power.
    Romanticise it all you want justify it all you can but its called indifference and it has no part in “The Kingdom of GOD”

    p.s.
    if Esther hadn’t gotten involved in the political process the Jews would have been wiped out.

    Paul called on his governors and kings to live like him(book of Acts)

    Daniel advised the King to do what right or God would strike him down. He also openly defied the laws of the land when they contradicted his devotion to God.
    Joseph served as the second most powerful politician in all the land and by his advice to pharaoh the coming famine (which God warned him of)
    was dealt with in a way that saved countless thousands of lives
    John the Baptist was beheaded for rebuking the king and his mistress for their ungodly affair

    Jesus himself called on us to pay taxes, an action of political obedience.

    I would argue God’s kingdom is directly involved in government, as the psalms, book of Romans, and proverbs all elude to.

    good chatting with ya, Nate

    Like

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