Thursday, October 27, 2016

Strange elections

This is one of the strangest election years in my lifetime. I can't say ever because in the history of elections there have been a number of nasty ones. Elections bring out the best and worst in us. This one has seen it's share of nastiness. It has shown how divided the voters are. Some fear porous borders, Muslims, and a more liberal Supreme Court and look to Trump to fix things. Others find Trump totally unqualified, inexperienced and unfit for the highest office in the land. The race has the Christian community divided, as well, with some high profile Evangelical/ Fundamentalist Christian leaders in the Trump camp. Ironically, Trump is most notably not a model Christian candidate. Politics trumps everything else.

Fed up, some Christians say they are opting out and not voting. Others point to Romans 12 and say it is our duty as Christians not only to vote but to give our allegiance to the government. Even if Trump loses? There have been some Trump supporters calling for an armed revolt if their candidate loses. Having lived in rural NW Florida for the past few years I can testify to an appalling lack of honor or respect shown to the Obama administration. Many of Obama's detractors are in the many churches on Sunday, no doubt. That is not to say my part of the country cannot disagree with Obama. They can protest, march, write editorials, and get out the vote for Trump - all they want. It is their right. I suppose it is also their right to decorate their trucks with Obama Sucks bumper stickers, and shout out for Hillary's imprisonment or worse, and feed off the hate one another has for Obama/Clinton.

I have yet to see a Hillary campaign sign among the hundreds of Trump - Pence signs around this county in rural Florida. Not a bumper sticker either. I don't have a sign in my yard or a sticker on my car - to be honest I am a bit afraid to.

What Christians are missing here is that this is only an election. It does not mean the end of the world as we know it if the other candidate is elected. Each side may claim to know God's will but as Lincoln said we don't know whose side God is on. His purposes are not to be determined by who gets elected. In the meantime, Christians don't come out looking so good after all the harsh rhetoric and fighting.

Some Bible interpreters have questioned whether what Paul wrote in Romans 13 was intended to be a timeless truth and suggest we have to look at it carefully in the historical context of Paul's time. Nero who was a nasty emperor was in power when Paul wrote. Most certainly, Paul was imprisoned and executed under Nero's reign, feeling the sword of the state.  Many other Christians and Jews lost their lives, too. Christians were not understood well and were largely lumped together with Jews. Their vulnerable communities had experienced firsthand the "sword" of the state. With that in mind could Paul have been encouraging Christians to do nothing that would attract the government's attention to them. Live by the rules, he says. Pay what is owed them, he wrote in v 7. He goes on in  v 8 to remind the Christians in Rome of the debt of love we owe to each other in Christ. This is more important than politics, much more, and it is what the church is missing at this present time.