Monday, October 20, 2008

Higher Loyalty

Yesterday morning I continued my odd calling in life to stand up, just about every Sunday, and share a few words about what God says to us through the Bible. Yesterday's reading was Matthew 22:15-22, the story about Jesus being asked whether or not taxes should be paid to Rome. The line that Jesus speaks, that stuns his listeners probably as much today as two thousand years ago is, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's."

As yesterday's sermon was delivered on Stewardship Commitment Sunday, the focus of the sermon was on our financial commitments for the year to come, both as members of FPC, Twin Falls, as well as in our lives in the wider world. Another way to pursue the same wisdom of Jesus would have been to speak about the quickly heightening negative rhetoric being splashed over the various media outlets covering the national election. That is, by giving to God the things that are God's we are called to a higher loyalty than merely our own opinion of who is right and who is wrong in any election.

What I mean to say is, if we take seriously the need to give to God the things that are God's, then we have to remember that the greatest commandment, at least according to Jesus, is to love God and then love our neighbor. And in the current political environment where accusations of socialism on one side and being out of touch with reality on the other side are being thrown around by both campaigns, perhaps a healthy dose of Christianity should be thrown into our considerations of these issues. For, if you are a Christian, and you engage in such damaging rhetoric with your friends, family, and acquaintances, then you are not living up to the higher loyalty to God of loving God first and because of God's love, in turn loving your neighbor even if they don't agree with you politically.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that you can not have a robust political opinion or even an uninformed political opinion. Rather, if you are a Christian and call on Jesus Christ as your guide in life, then how you express those opinions does matter. It is not a matter of political correctness, instead it is a matter of correct living as a follower of Christ and a beloved child of God. That is, no matter who is elected 15 days from today, if your ultimate loyalty is to God, then you are going to have to think and pray long and hard about how you are going to be in relationship with those friends and family and complete strangers with whom you disagree.

Why? Well, my guess is that from God's perspective, none of us are perfect or completely correct or as loving as we ought to be and yet God loves us still. And maybe, just maybe, its time to treat those with whom we disagree with some of that amazing grace and love as well.

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