Saltshaker Citizenship in an Election Year

Salt draws out the good flavors subtly hidden in food and preserves what would otherwise spoil, as do those who claim to be children of God.

Who is not already sick and tired of the rantings and false rhetoric of the political class in this country as election 2016 draws near. This is especially true this particular political cycle with the unexpected triumphs of polarizing and inflammatory personas in the presidential race. Although election season seems to be the most appropriate time of all to be able to legitimately vent our frustration and fight for our rights as American citizens, perhaps it is not the wisest attitude for those who are wanting to promote a higher kingdom and its King. My question is how should we be involved as those whose “citizenship is in heaven”, as we are reminded in Philippians? “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” Contextually, Philippi was a province of Rome in Macedonia. They did not acquiesce to the culture or regulations of the region, but were governed by the capitol city of Rome. This gave them privileges and opportunities unavailable to the Macedonians. What a picture of our tenure on this earth! Although we have an amazing future destiny and the present possibility of abundant life, it seems like the emphasis of Christendom in this country drifts towards electing the “right” candidate – someone who most conforms to our moral mindset, feeling perhaps that this is the way to influence people for righteousness. The fervor for electing one or squelching another takes a tremendous toll on “gentleness of speech, in honor preferring one another”. The message of grace is all but obliterated.

“Evangelicals” represent a large voting block, and consequently are pursued by those who need their votes to succeed. And although a large percentage of Christians statistically do not vote, there is pressure to be involved and elect a “friendly” if not a “religiously correct” person. Personally, I think the sense of importance that is thrust on us can be deluding and distracting from our ultimate Message. It is easy to be seduced by pride as we are courted by the ‘powers that be’ into positions of compromise. Because of strident political discourse, far too often involving Christians and their leaders, our message is now seen to be Anti: anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-government, etc. instead of Pro. Nationalism slips in as the primary concern, and Kingdom becomes secondary. We cannot usher in the kingdom by having the right politicians, but by having the right hearts. Jesus Christ, not legislation, changes hearts. To diminish the opportunity for Him to influence someone because they are offended by our political zeal is a monumental loss. I realize there is an intricate and complex relationship between the Church and the State in this country, and I do not pretend to be smart enough to untangle that web. But personally I have decided that to take an ardent political stance in this political climate alienates people who need the Good News about hope for an eternal future. It also distracts from higher purposes than fixing this broken system, and gives us the illusion that politics can solve the tear in the fabric of our culture. My hope is not tied to the country I live in, or the mores and values of my political representatives, but it is anchored to a better country that will swallow up all this rhetoric and ‘tempest in a teapot’ in righteousness when the King returns.

I love that Paul became all things to all men that he might win some – not to a political perspective- but to One Who was able to save their souls and their hearts in the midst of an immoral violent culture. His environment was arguably even more violent and cesspool than ours, but he concentrated his efforts on the people within his sphere of influence. He used his rights as a Roman citizen to advance the cause of the Kingdom, not to change the system. Each person must follow his/her conscience in these matters, and hopefully the leading of God. Not everyone does the same activity in service of the King. But every Christian must obey the call to speak the truth in love, to let his gentleness be known to all, and not to be opinionated. Note Romans 12:16 jbp “Live in harmony with each other. Don’t become snobbish but take a real interest in ordinary people. Don’t become set in your own opinions.” And then there is “…So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Romans 14) And I love Philippians 2 from the Messge “…Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourself long enough to to lend a helping hand.” A high call indeed, a hard self-restraint in the face of maddening corruption in our government, perhaps a hardship for those of us who feel we have a right to demand our rights as Christian in this country. I will exercise the privilege I have to vote, but I do not want my bumper sticker or Facebook like to limit my chance to win someone to the grace of God.

You of course are free to do whatever you feel you need to do.

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