Tag Archives: Politics

Politics and Practices

Living in the Spirit
October 21, 2017

Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:15-22

Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ –Matthew 22:15-17

Political leaders in Washington DC and Oklahoma are under the delusion that cutting taxes will put more money back into the economy. The fact they seem to miss is that we invest the vast majority of tax money quickly back into our economy.  Roads are built and maintained by people who work. In Oklahoma, last year 12 rule hospitals filed for bankruptcy, and three closed primarily from cuts in federal health care spending robbing entire communities of readily accessible health care not to mention jobs lost.

Civil government has played an important role in the development of our world since families grew to tribes and tribes needed to interact to provide for the Common Good. We may all want to gripe about paying taxes, but government serves a necessary purpose. Yes, governments need to operate efficiently and effectively and yes, governments need to handle our tax dollars wisely. The protection of the Common Good is the foundation for our otherwise thriving.

Pitting the church against the government as the Pharisees were trying to do in our scripture today is trying to catch Jesus in the politics of the day. Living under the Roman rule where its subjects were not a part of the decision-making process dictated a choice between following the rules or facing serious consequences. Rome’s religious tolerance ended at the tax collectors’ tables. Protections against such practices are in our Constitution, not to limit religion but to protect all citizens from having someone else’s religion imposed on them.

We, too, get caught up in the politics of the day, and it colors our decision-making practices as citizens in a democratic society where we do have responsibilities for assuring quality governance in the provision of the Common Good. We cannot and should not force our religious beliefs through laws on others. We can, and we must live our faith through our participation as citizens. Walking that tightrope takes courage and trust that Jesus taught us what was important. The thing is the Common Good fits nicely with Jesus’ teachings like feeding the hungry.

Prayer: Lord, give us the vision we need to see past politics and find the way to the Common Good. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Politics of Jesus

Living in the Spirit
August 26, 2017

Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:13-20

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. –Matthew 16:13-17

Why did Jesus ask the disciples how people perceived him? Was he checking to see if he was getting his message across? Was he testing his team’s understanding or fidelity? Preceding this scripture are stories of the religious leaders of the day asking for a sign from Jesus to prove who he is, and a warning from Jesus for the disciples to beware of these same leaders. I think Jesus was trying to address both questions. He cared that people understood his message. He cared that the religious leaders did not misconstrue who he was to further their purposes. Jesus dealt with politics.

We tend to tie politics to civil government, but everything we do involving groups of people includes some form of politics. We even try to influence one group’s politics with another group’s. Politics is a branch of ethics concerned with the state or social organism as a whole rather than the individual person:  a division of moral philosophy dealing with the ethical relations and duties of governments or other social organizations*. Much of the Gospels include reports of Jesus’ handling the politics of his faith community. He was a threat to the power of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He called for the formation of a kingdom that was vastly different from their concept of God’s Kingdom. Many of them, not all, were certain their understanding of the Kingdom of God was God’s understanding. Sound familiar? Are we following the path of the Pharisees and Sadducees rather than Jesus’ way? How do we know Jesus’ path when we seek it?

Jesus was a minimalist. He had two basic rules love God and love one another. He illustrated both with lots of stories and lots of examples that passed to us through the ages. His message was not a new one. It was one his faith community were called to follow very early in its formation. The lesser gods of lust for power, greed, pride, envy, and sloth continually play their political viewpoint against God’s all the time wooing us away from the basic rules. If love is wanting the very best for everyone, then these lesser gods cannot be a part of God’s Kingdom.

Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
   and do not take your holy spirit from me**. Amen

*http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/unabridged/politics
**Psalm 51:10-11

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Oneness

people-arguing1Living in the Spirit
September 7, 2015

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 1:20-33

Wisdom cries out in the street;
   in the squares she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out;
   at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
   and fools hate knowledge? –Proverbs 1:20-22

I’ll admit I am a news junkie, but I am wearing pretty thin on what even the major stations are broadcasting. Apparently, the morning show, I normally watch, is planning to have each presidential candidate come on the show and share their ideas, which is a good thing, right. One candidate did appear recently and his four or five minute segment was spent primarily challenging him to say something about another candidate whose antics are all we hear about in the news. Most of the reporting about other candidates is a travel log where they are speaking, not what they are saying. When we do hear about what they are saying, it is normally quotes about the controversial issue of the day not their plans for our country. I have to assume the news programs are doing this because it helps their ratings and if that is true then that is on us. We need to demand substance.

Sorry about the rant, but when I read our scripture for today, it seemed to be describing our political system. We make big deals out of issues that have little if any impact on most of the country while our economic system is upside down, our infrastructure is falling apart, and who has a clue about what to do regarding Syria and ISIS. We are a house divided and we all know what happens to houses divided.

Jesus Christ called us to be one, to love one another, which I believe requires us to work diligently toward the Common Good, not tear it apart so that I can have what I want at your expense. The Body of Christ needs to set the example of such oneness not be the source of the division.

Prayer: Lord forgive us for making you a pawn in our political games. Give us a new song to sing your oneness throughout this land. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.