Saturday, September 12, 2009

Politics and Religion (Did I Get Your Attention?)

I don't talk politics much. If I were completely honest, I'd say I don't talk about them because I don't understand a lot of it. I know the gist of it all and I do my best to stay informed. But it doesn't consume me. I'm not an activist in the political arena but I take my responsibilities as a voting American very seriously and do my very best as a busy wife and mother to make informed choices and vote according to my morals and values. But talking politics has never been one of my favorite pastimes and usually I avoid the subject out of a desire to keep unity.

That said, I have something that has been brewing in my heart that I feel I must say. Lately, since President Obama has taken office, I have been overwhelmed with something that initially I wasn't sure what to make of. I get emails that degrade him, see posts of disrespect and jabbings at him on social networking sites and even hear people put him down, roll their eyes and become very judgmental of what he is doing in social settings. I found the notes humorous at first, but then as time went by, I would read scriptures that would tell me that was not right (you'll see some of those below).
I almost kept my children out of school the day the President gave a speech because of emails and warnings I'd heard that told me that he was going to brainwash them. (On a side note, it was a wonderful speech and if the president "brainwashed" my kids into staying in school, taking personal responsibility and working hard, I'm thrilled). I did my due diligence and read the speech on Monday before he gave it, and found it to be very encouraging and something I believe my children needed to hear from a leader in our country.

I think that there is a feeling in the air that if you are an "Evangelical", you have to slander President Obama and put him down. I've even heard rumors in circles that he could be the Anti-Christ. Could we honestly be more disrespectful that we are? I mean, I don't agree with a lot of what he's doing, but he is the President. He's a human being who God created and appointed to lead our country at the present time.

I read what the Bible, our life-giving, truth-giving, personal letter from our Father in Heaven had to say about the subject. Please, take time to read this and let it sink into your hearts, asking the Lord to break down any prejudice, agendas or preconceived notions....

Romans 13:1-2 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and will be punished.

Titus 3:1-2 Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.

1 Peter 2:13-14 For the LORD's sake, respect all human authority - whether the king as head of state, or the officers he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

I will stop there, but want to express, also that if you look at the stories of the great leaders of the Bible - Joseph, Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel, will find that every single one of them respected and submitted to the authority that was above them. Because of their submission and humble attitude, they found favor in the sight of not only the kings and leaders, but in the sight of God and all without compromising their values and morals.

All this does not mean that we are to disobey God in situations where the law of man may conflict with the law of God (Acts 4:18-20; 5:40) but we are told to continue to respect government authority—even when those in positions of authority have abused their offices.

Could it be that we have it all wrong? Can we take a minute and examine ourselves? Please? For the sake of unity not only in our churches but in our communities and our country? Our hate and unloving jabs at our government are doing us more harm than good. It seems very divisive and contradictory to what we, as believers, are about.

We cannot ever forget that Jesus had His harshest words for the Pharisees (Religious people), not the "sinners". For instance, He tells the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23 "What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens but you ignore the more important aspects of the law - justice, mercy and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things."

Could it be that in our quest to do the right thing, we have sidestepped an even more important thing? Are we showing mercy to those we oppose? Are we being loving in our approach? Gentle? Humble? Patient? Why are we so surprised when people sin and make wrong choices? Doesn't Jesus tell us specifically in Matthew 15:19 that "from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander."? Maybe instead of putting people down and being angry, we could show mercy and faith in our God and pray for them so that justice will be served? We cannot forget who our battle is against (Ephesians 6) here - and it's not these people in leadership!

Honestly, I believe we tend to focus so much on what others are doing wrong and don't spend enough time and energy focusing on and living out what we know is right. We spend so much time fighting with people and instead, maybe we should be fighting for them, on our knees in prayer?

I pray God will forgive me for my attitude toward my leaders. I thank Him for showing me the scriptures and setting me straight. I pray He will forgive us all as we march forward in complete confidence that He sees everything and that He is in control. Of course, we need to be responsible and vote for what we know is right and stand up for Truth. But I urge you from the bottom of my heart - let's all respect and submit to our government and pray for our leaders, not put them down and disrespect them - for the LORD's sake.

Now maybe you can see why I don't talk politics much. (smile)

Daniel 4:32.....The Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone He chooses.


Jenny O. said...

Beautifully put!

Sheri said...

Leslie, Our Pastor spoke on this in some of his sermon Sunday. He said that he had heard what some were saying that the President was the Anti-Christ. Our Pastor said, "If the President is the Anti-Christ, then we have missed the Rapture!


Tricia said...

Beautifully said! Regardless of political views, the behavior of some toward our President is unacceptable, on many levels. How can we hope to make progress on real problems in the United States if we can not behave properly?

Pete said...

As a pastor in a local church, this is an issue that I've given much thought and prayer. We have people in our congregation from across the political spectrum. I have some pleading with me to preach my political perspective and others thankful I tend to preach only principles and not parties.

When I was in Seminary, I was president of our on campus pro-life group and stood on the platform with Nellie Gray, Congressman Dornan and others on behalf of the unborn. I've been on the air with Rush Limbaugh three times. So there is little guessing where I stand as a citizen.

My point being this. I believe Leslie is right on target. When we allow our politics to be a larger issue than our faith, we become a stumbling block people can't get past so they can get to Jesus. He is supposed to be the stumbling block, we are not (Rom 9:32-33, 1 Cor 10:32, 1 Pet 2:8).

As citizens, we have certain rights to vote and peacefully protest. But people need to see the church as a place where people love more than they campaign. Jesus and his way of life needs to be far more evident than our political party. Ironically, what some of us need in our hearts and minds is a little better separation of church and state.

DUSTY said... usual, you've hit the proverbial nail smack on the head when you write:

Honestly, I believe we tend to focus so much on what others are doing wrong and don't spend enough time and energy focusing on and living out what we know is right. We spend so much time fighting with people and instead, maybe we should be fighting for them, on our knees in prayer?

If more Christians could read this and really let it sink in to their hearts and souls imagine how much we could accomplish??? Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons we're given in the spiritual battle for souls that we fight every single day...with Him and FOR Him!!

Keep on keepin' on, girl!!

Tami said...

It is interesting that you blog this now because my friend Tracey and I recently had this very same conversation. I am grieved by the mean-spiritedness that seems to be flowing from Christians. Thank you for your boldness to speak the truth in love.
We're looking forward to having you at Life Community in a couple of months!


Gregory said...

I agree with you in that it is disrespectful and we need to not walk around slandering our President. At the same time, EVERYTHING he stands for is totally against what we as Christians are taught and this is a scary time. People are acting out of fear, some because of his color and some because of the unknown times we are in. We need to trust God and not depend on any President totally. Ultimately God is in control. There IS validity in the facts, however, and the odds are he will not get re elected..

Gwen Smith said...

Amen a million times, Leslie!! Amen.

Cynthia Carroll said...

Well said Leslie. There is more that unites us than divides us. I think it is important to remember that Christians sit on both sides of the aisle and we all need to start respecting each other more than we have been.

Teri said...

My Sister in Christ~

Well said!
What it comes down to for us a Christians is TRUST. Trust in a Soveriegn God who knows what he's doing!

Your feelings are right on target and it's sad when "Christians" turn into modern day Pharasies. We need to keep eachother in prayer over this. It's the scheme of the enemy to pull us down, stealing, killing and destroying our testimony as Christians (through inappropriate, unChrist-like behavior). The good news is, we have the power through Jesus Christ to stand tall and not let the enemy gain any ground on us. Being in His word and living it out is key.

I posted my "Mixed Feelings" about Obama as soon as our new President was announced and have been praying ever since.

Leslie, your heart and thoughts in this blog post are that of a loving Christ follower who the Lord has laid a holy discontent on to be a voice for Him. Thank God, and thank you.

Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) Tx

Linda said...

Leslie, as always you have spoken right to my heart and mind! I guess it is part of the human condition that we find fault with others, especially our leaders, and are unable to see our own. Prayer changes that.

Anonymous said...

Tom Nichols
I share some of your views on President Obama. However, I think that because of his gifted speech he is a very dangerous man. I would urge folks to look at his voting record to judge his motives. I also think teaching our kids to stay in school is the parents' job. The more of this we allow the gov't to do, the more avenues of social education are open to them. As for Romans 13, I quote Chuck Baldwin. What if Obama decided to resurrect the monarchal custom of Jus Primae Noctis . That was the medieval custom when the king claimed the right to sleep with a subject's wife the first night of their marriage. We would resist this at all cost.
Tom Nichols

Leslie Nease said...

I agree, Tom, we must use discernment. My only point in posting this is to say we cannot slander him. It's just not biblical at all - not agreeing or liking someone's policies does not give us license to be disrespectful and slanderous to or about him as a person.

I did include this paragraph in my post: "All this does not mean that we are to disobey God in situations where the law of man may conflict with the law of God (Acts 4:18-20; 5:40) but we are told to continue to respect government authority—even when those in positions of authority have abused their offices."

Thanks so much for your comments!! This is great discussion - one I wish we'd have more often. :)


Anonymous said...

Leslie, I totally agree with you...thanks for addressing is certainly thought provoking and hopefully will help us all remember what Jesus would have us do as His "ambassadors"!

Becky Weisenauer said...

Leslie I agree that as Christians we should not show hatred toward others. However, Jesus was very clear that God hates and will not wink at certain sins. Currently we are condoning anything and everything. That is what we as Christian Americans still need to fight against so our country does not go down the same path as Sodom and Gomorrah. Remember Daniel would not bow down to the golden idol as the King had commanded because that was a sin. God blessed him for his faithfulness. We as Christians need to stay firm on what we know God's word says to do.

Leslie Nease said...

Becky, I am in complete agreement with you! I'm certainly not saying we should ever wink at sin. I'm only saying that when we oppose, we do it biblically and in love. God is very clear that we are to do everything in love. That point is missed way too often when we oppose sin We forget that our battle is not flesh and blood, but against the principalities and evil in the darkness. We actually end up sinning more in God's eyes when we take the road of put downs and ugliness.

If I wasn't clear enough on that point, I do apologize.

Thank you for your comment!

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