What Would Jesus Vote? 5

Luke 4:16-21

Last year I felt that the church needed to hear a message about financial giving. It is an uncomfortable message to give and an uncomfortable message to hear. For some reason most people really prefer not to talk about or even think about money – especially giving money.

I started my message with that statement – “No one likes to hear about tithing.” And when I said it someone in the congregation said, “Here we go.” His disdain was evident.

It was frustrating, I’ll admit, but I am in good company. When Jesus preached I imagine that most of the time many listening didn’t want to hear what he was saying. Where does today’s passage take place? What does Jesus claim as his ministry? How do you think the listeners felt? (You may want to read the rest of the story – Luke 4:22-30.)

Hearing (or reading) the words from Isaiah may bring a good feeling to you. That was the first reaction of those in attendance. Luke 4:22 says that the people spoke well of him and his “gracious words.” But when the full meaning of what Jesus was saying was revealed things got a bit dicey.

Those in attendance discovered that he wasn’t talking about them. Jesus was talking about all the other poor people in the world. He was talking about real prisoners and those who are spiritual prisoners. He was referring to the physically blind and the spiritually blind. And “the Lord’s favor” meant that even those who were regarded as undeserving and unworthy would be blessed.

This was shocking news to the crowd. It meant a change in the way they had always believed and thought. And now we have to accept these words as well.

The ministry of Jesus, the ministry of the church, and your ministry involves reaching out to the truly poor – both those in poverty and those who are struggling spiritually. Our ministry requires that we go out among those who are not like us at all, those we may normally avoid.

But we are to bring a message of good news from God. And part of bringing that release to the prisoners and the oppressed means that our political decisions, our vote, needs to be guided by what is best for all people, not just us. Our decisions on candidates and issues should not be influenced by what will benefit just our family and friends, those in society who are like us, but by what will benefit the poor, those imprisoned by social norms and behaviors, and those who feel oppressed.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can your vote bring the Lord’s favor to others?

What Would Jesus Vote? 4

Mark 12:28-31

The current presidential race will be one of the most significant in history because we will undoubtedly elect either the first African-American president or the first female vice president of our nation. Information, news, and analysis of the candidates are everywhere and the campaigns are a topic of many discussions and conversations. Most pundits clearly favor one party or the other, and I have found that when I hear or read criticism of the candidate I prefer I grow a bit agitated.

But ultimately, regardless of which party we favor, which candidates we endorse or plan to vote for, we must remember the profound teaching of Jesus. What question does the teacher ask? Which is the most important commandment? Which is second?

Now, the question is to us – how does this teaching apply to our political views?

We may believe that one candidate is better for our country than the other. We may feel strongly that choosing the opponent will be detrimental to our nation and our society. And we may have such passion for this election that our tempers may flare up, our voices may rise in irritation, and our endorsement of one person over another may cause us to think poorly of those who disagree.

But Jesus himself tells us that the most important commandment for us to adhere to is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are called to be devoted to God, and being devoted to God requires that we live lives of mercy and love, peace and self-control. The decisions made in the voting booth should be guided by our desire to be obedient and faithful children to our heavenly Father.

And with that follows the second commandment – love our neighbors in the same way and as much as we love ourselves. In spite of our passions about the election we must remember to be loving and merciful to those around us, even those with whom we disagree.

If our political process causes division and animosity between people and causes strife among the faithful, then we all lose. If, however, we can make decisions about our government with the motivation of serving God and with a heart that is loving toward those who differ, then regardless of the outcome, we will have done the right thing.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you love your neighbor when your neighbor votes differently than you?

What Would Jesus Vote? 3

Matthew 5:7-10

Today we finish with the beatitudes. And I'm not sure any of us can wrap our brains around a politician who is "pure in heart" but we'll try!

When deciding which candidate to support, whether on a local or national level, it's important that we as Christians consider all facets of our faith. So today's four comments from Jesus give us more to think about:

  • Which candidates show mercy, both in the personal relationships and policies?

  • Who is pure in heart (no, I did not just snort) in their desire to serve their community or nation?

  • Who can we see being a peacemaker? Who will try to bring people together to have better relationships and find concensus in their solutions? Who can bring nations together to solve crises as they arise?

  • Who will protect those who have been and are being persecuted?

It's hard to step outside of our political parties and personal histories and look at the candidates in various races through the eyes of Jesus. But I believe that we do have to ask ourselves the question... What would Jesus vote?

One important thing that we all need to remember as we enter the final weeks of hotly contested elections from local Sheriff to President... every person running is a child of God. Every person running... whether we agree with their political stance or not... is someone that Christ died for. It's HARD to love those we disagree with, but we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. And since Jesus defined "neighbor" as the lowliest person on the Jewish totem pole, I don't think we get a pass for political disagreements!

DAILY CHALLENGE: Pray for the candidate you don't support... Pray that he or she will be guided by God in all they do.

What Would Jesus Vote? 2

Matthew 5:1-6

It is easy to visualize our society (or any society) as a type of pyramid. Those few with money and power are at the top and in control. Those poor and powerless are the largest group on the bottom. But Jesus was able to flip views of society and religion on their heads. He was able to bring attention and focus to those who were powerless and underprivileged, which may be a lesson for us in our political views.

Jesus launches into the famed Sermon on the Mount with another familiar teaching – the Beatitudes. Who are the ones who will be blessed? Why do you think this is?

If the lessons of God were simple I suppose we wouldn’t need the Bible, nor would we need to spend time in study and pursuit of meaning. But the lessons of God are complex and we do need to examine what Jesus taught so that we might gain some insight.

What Jesus is presenting here seems to be the opposite of what people may expect. Those who are blessed are the ones who have a difficult time of things now. The poor in spirit – which I would take to mean those who have doubts and fears and worries – will gain the kingdom of heaven. Those who are sad are the lucky ones because God will comfort them.

Those who want life and society to be fair and honest, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, will finally get what they desire. Those who desire justice and equality will have a society that values and upholds those ideals.
In short, those who are considered “the least” in our society will be the ones who get the attention from God. God will be merciful and loving to them. Their days of being down or oppressed will end and they will be lifted up.

So, we can see that Jesus valued not the rich and powerful, but the poor and struggling. He speaks more highly of those who face challenges in life than he does of those who are part of the upper classes of society.

Commuting that over into our political situation, it would seem that Jesus would support issues and candidates who work toward ending poverty and providing for people in need. It would seem that Jesus would be in favor of affordable health care and would endorse a good and fair justice system.

As Christians we should be guided by our desire to follow the teachings of Christ. We should examine our choices with an eye toward people and policies that give strength to the poor in spirit, support the meek, and fill our hunger for what is right.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Which candidate or issue might help those who are poor in spirit?

What Would Jesus Vote? 1

Romans 13:5-7

Most are familiar with the movement to raise Christian spiritual awareness with bracelets and key chains and such with the letters “WWJD” written on them. The letters stand for “What would Jesus do?“ and they were intended to provoke a thoughtfulness about behavior. In a similar vein with the national presidential election coming very soon and most of the nation focusing on what will happen in the future, we need to look at “How would Jesus vote?” What would Jesus’ attitude toward the candidates and issues be?

To begin, we can ask the question, “would Jesus vote?” Would he take part in the political process or would he stand back, removed from the issues because he is God and loves all people?

I believe Jesus was a very social being and would be very involved in the political and social processes around him. Passages such as Titus 3:1-2 – talking about being subject to rulers; Matthew 17:24-27 – paying the temple tax; Mark 12:14-17 – paying government taxes; and the Old Testament instruction in Jeremiah 29:4-7 to support and be part of your society, lead me to believe that Jesus would vote.

Paul’s letter to the church in Rome was written to struggling believers, faithful people who were suffering persecution, trial, torture and death. This was an oppressed church and one in which you might expect a leader to preach revolution and an overthrow of the government. Why does Paul urge submission to authorities? What does he call the faithful to do?

There are many who believe that religious groups need to stay out of politics. If churches are to be tax exempt they should not influence voting. Church and state should be separate; religion and politics should not mingle.

While I agree that no religious leader should use the pulpit as a soapbox to endorse this candidate or that candidate, to influence voter opinion one way or another, to remove one’s self from politics because we believe in God is wrong. In fact, just the opposite is true. Because we believe in God and the ultimate good of our loving Savior, we must be involved in what is happening in our culture, working to influence positive change and help to those in need.

Paul’s words to the believers in Rome can apply to us as well. We may look at our governmental system and the election as a hopeless cause. We may feel that the existing government has nothing to do with our lives. We may want to remove ourselves from the whole process on the grounds that God is the ultimate king over all things.

But we are called to be part of our society – paying taxes and obeying authorities. Then, as we function within the lines of our society, we should apply the teachings and guidance of Jesus Christ to give direction and hope in our decisions.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Which Biblical truths guide your political views?