While we’re celebrating in the US tomorrow with friends and family, let’s not forget those who can’t.
This is an election year, although it seems anymore that every year is an election year. We scarcely get the signs out of the yard before it’s time for the next batch.
I know that people from all over the world might stop by and read this post. I’m grateful for their visit and interest. This post, however, is different from most of the ones I write, which are usually about Biblical topics, though this one will get there. This post is addressed to issues in this country. As Americans, we have the freedom to vote, to get involved locally and have our voice heard.
If you ever visit Arlington National Cemetery, or see pictures of it, those rows and rows and rows and rows of white markers bear silent, eloquent testimony to the thousands who have died in order that we might have that freedom.
I know of Christians who don’t vote, haven’t ever voted. They’re “not of this world,” so don’t think it important enough to get involved even to vote. “Politics is dirty,” is one of their views, and, to a large degree, they’re right. But why is that? It’s because good men refuse to get involved, leaving it by default to the bad guys.
Should Christians get involved? I don’t mean necessarily run for office, but at least register and vote. Would such a thing be “worldy”? Is it really all that important?
The Apostle Paul took advantage of his Roman citizenship more than once. He saw nothing wrong with it, didn’t seem to think it was “worldly” or beneath him. In Acts 16, he and some of his companions were thrown into jail for disturbing the peace, to put it mildly. They were beaten, thrown into an inner dungeon overnight and put into stocks. These weren’t the kind of stocks we see in pictures, with head and hands placed between boards. These were devices which contorted the body and made it impossible to get comfortable. They were basically torture devices. The next day, the magistrates told the jailer to release the men and let them go. How did Paul respond? Was he just grateful “it was over?” What did he say?
But Paul said to them, ‘They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly. No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out’,” v. 27. You see, what these magistrates did was illegal. Even though they didn’t know Paul was a Roman citizen, they were guilty of breaking the law. And they had made no effort to find out, but had simply followed the crowd. And when they found this out, they were concerned: …they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, v. 38.
At least two other times, Paul used his Roman citizenship, once to get out of being whipped, Acts 22:25-29, and once to get away from men who wanted to kill him, Acts 25:10, 11.
Furthermore, in his writings, he addressed this issue of citizenship. In Romans 13:1, he wrote, Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God (NKJV). The issue of “God’s appointment” is beyond the scope of this post, except to say that God has instituted the idea of government among humans. He may or may not agree with what they do, but the idea came from Him. And Paul certainly didn’t have “voting” in mind when he wrote Romans 13. Such a thing had never yet been heard of. The point is, we should live with the government the providence of God has put us in. But that’s another post, as well. The government we live under gives us the right to vote. Though we obviously can’t know for sure, I believe Paul would have taken full advantage of it if he would have had it. (Could we say that not voting is being disobedient to God?)
If someone should say, “Well, yes, but that’s just Paul,” hear what our Lord said. For some reason, a lot of people downplay what Paul wrote, and some even say that he took the simple teachings of Jesus and turned them into something the Lord never meant. That’s another post. For now, hear our Lord.
In one of their incessant arguments with the Lord, the Pharisees asked Him about paying taxes, another issue Paul addresses in Romans 13. These religious leaders came to the Lord and asked what they thought was a surefire question to trip Him up. In Matthew 22:17, they asked, Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” They really thought they had Him! As usual, they soon found out they were wrong!
But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites. Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Once again, our Lord probably wasn’t thinking about “voting,” but I think the argument could be made that it is a “thing of Caesar’s” and as such is to be observed.
Let me close by saying that I’m very concerned about the direction this country – and the world – is heading. I’m very concerned about this election. This isn’t to say that I don’t trust God, or any such thing. He generally works through means, and in this case, voting is a means. I have to say that I think we’ve pretty much gotten what we’ve deserved the last few years.
What I’m afraid of is that candidates won’t be “conservative” enough for some Americans, and so they will sit this election out, as they did in 2012 because they didn’t like Mitt Romney’s religion, and as they have done in other elections because the candidates didn’t say the right “Shibboleth” on certain issues. (See Judges 6:1-12 for the reference.) Doing this, they will concede the election before it’s even run.
If that happens this year, well, we’ll deserve what we get.