Politics and Jesus~The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

Well, y’all, and hoowee!  We here in the States have survived another election day, and coincidingly, a brutal election season.  I don’t believe that, in my 64 years on this planet, have I ever seen such overwhelming vitriol and mudslinging.  The television has been full of political ads and commentary, insults, and hate.   We have been inundated by political ads telling us how dreadful the opponents are.  The candidates’ faces and words have been broadcast via radio, TV, social media, and printed media.  Millions of dollars have been spent on this onslaught of political verbiage, and people shared, reshared, tweeted, retweeted all of it. 

And people are passionate about what they’ve said.  They really and truly and honestly believe in whichever candidate they support, and they want the world to know it.  Some of these folks have even politicize their religious beliefs.  Especially those of the Christian Nationalist ilk.  Bearing that in mind, how interesting is it that in the Gospel appointed for today, we hear these words of Jesus:

“See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’   Do not follow them!  (Luke 21:8) 

(Yes, I have listed this verse out of context, coz Jesus was talking about the “end times,” which is a whole different sermon, but bear with me for a sec.)  What if all those (us) who have been so passionate about our political beliefs switched gears and actually worked for our Lord as if He were running for office?   What if we replaced the candidates’ names with the name of Jesus? What if we loved each other the way Jesus loves us?   Can you imagine a country where all of us were as on fire for Christ as we seem to be over these politicians and their messages?  Can you imagine where this country would be?  Can you imagine what would be accomplished if, instead of political rallies, we had “Jesus rallies?”  Why do we not bother?  Why do we not fill our churches the way we fill arenas and convention centers?

The psalmist advises:  Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. (Psalm 146:3 NIV)

Jesus has taught us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”  Mark 16:15.

Isn’t it time to get our priorities straight?   As Christians, have we lost our focus of what is truly important?  Regardless of politics, of whether we are ‘blue’ or ‘red’ or ‘rainbow,’ we are to remain focused on the one thing that really matters in this world and the next:  Spreading and sharing the love of and for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  No matter who sits in the Oval Office, no matter which side of the aisle our folks sit, our job, our mission, our focus, has not changed and will not change:  We are called to love and to serve the Lord with gladness and singleness of heart.  We are called to care of each other, regardless of our politics.  We are commanded to ‘bless those who persecute us,’ and we are called to ‘pray for our enemies.’  We are called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless. (Matthew 25:31-46). 

And above all else, we are to remember Jesus’s words from John 13:34:  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

In all of our political posturing, let us not forget that in many cases, we are the only Bibles that many folks will ever read, and we are the only Jesus that some folks will ever see.  It is up to us to see the Jesus in everyone, regardless of political belief, race, creed, color, sexual orientation, whether we cheer for Duke or for Clemson, or anything thing else that can be used to divide us.  We are all of us HIS people, the sheep of HIS pasture, and we have far more in common than we do the things that divide us, if we truly identify as HIS.

In the words of the 18th century hymnist, Catharina von Schlegel: 

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past. 
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last. 
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know 
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Finally, won’t you pray with me?

Bless us, O Divine Father, to find unity with each other, to work together to deliver your word, O Lord, for we know man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. May we be a blessing to others, as we strive to be more like Jesus, Loving Father; kind, caring, compassionate, loving, giving, forgiving and humble.  Father God, teach us to be good role models to the people around us, so that when they see you and your love within us, they would want to know you more and more. God grant us the patience to work together, bring us all together as a family. Let us work together with understanding and compassion in our hearts. Let us not be rude or arrogant towards one another, as we light the way to your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God for ever and ever.  Amen.