Politics Within the Family – How Do We Respond?

Times are hard for this generation but they are no tougher than when the Assyrians mercilessly invaded and conquered Israel…….when Rome diligently tried to extinguish Christianity by killing followers in the most horrific of ways……..when the free world rose up against Hitler’s slaughter of Jews in Europe, many dying for the cause…….when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and innocent lives were lost……when the Egyptians used the early Israelite people for forced labor during Mose’s day and male children were killed……just because.   History is full of horrible violence. People taking over other peoples. Injustices. Unfairness. Death.

Our self-centered focus somehow permits us to believe that we have it tougher than any other generation. Thank goodness bombs haven’t landed on our soil…..yet. You may sense my skepticism for our future and perhaps being the daughter of a Marine who survived Korea, WWII, Vietnam (twice), Grenada and Cuba has influenced me. I know it has.  I’m thankful for what it has taught me.

I’m also grateful for the history lessons I’ve learned as I’ve studied past epochs. History is fascinating. Hopefully, examining the lives of previous generations has kept me from centering all of my egocentric thoughts within the mere century-centered bubble most of us only choose to see….that contemporary bubble of enlightenment we all live in.

It’s hard to miss the whine of this generation, which has so far has been, “it’s just not fair.” How I wish we could stop the whining and take a moment to see clearly….but only God can help us to see our lives clearly through his lens.

God has showed us throughout scripture that no matter how much we wish the world weren’t unfair and inequitable, the fact is that it will always be unfair and inequitable.  Our personal idealism and preferences will not change this truth.  Throughout the time-line of biblical history, we are shown that the world we live in is sinful, willful and disobedient. In fact, our very natures are so corrupt because of original sin that it is only through the Holy Spirit’s influence on our life that we can even hope to try to follow God’s ways.

Hopefully, all Christians understand these very basic tenets of the faith — that we are all — each and every one — sinful and fallen – and that only through the sacrifice of Jesus, who hung on that cross to atone for our sin, can we even hope to lift one finger in obedience and kindness towards others.

Even within the Christian community we have a plethora of opinions and preferences.  Not all of them are faithful to scripture.   Why?  Because we are fallen humans.  So lets go down the list that plagues me — that list which addresses political conflict within our own family of believers. Recognize that although I’m only using 2 categories of politically active Christians here, each categories has several more within itself.  Within the politically liberal side there are many divisions.  The same holds true within the conservative camp, the biggest misconception being that all conservatives are fundamentalists.  (It’s really too bad the word fundamentalists has come to have a completely different connotation than it originally stood for, but I digress….)  Thus, I recognize I have to be a little general here……please keep this in mind as you read.

1. Politically liberal Christians often believe that politically conservative Christians are not compassionate. Somehow, conservative Christians have been painted as being hard-nosed, unkind, ignorant and thoughtless, lacking any compassion towards others. This one is a  hard for me because I know I’m a compassionate person, as are many others I know.  Those who know me know that I even volunteer for an organization that specializes in compassion.  Why? Because I understand and believe God’s mandate that I personally should attempt to take care of the poor, widows and orphans. God has changed my heart when he chose me to be his and now I desire to be obedient because he influences all that I do.  Hopefully, I am listening and responding.

2. The quandary for conservative Christians:  How can I freely respond to this mandate to serve the poor if I am not politically free to choose my response?  How can I use my money for compassionate causes if my freedom becomes so limited that I cannot excel and earn a wage which can do more than just pay my bills?  I wish we could change the term “conservative Christian” to “freedom-loving Christian.” Any one who has studied history knows that when freedoms are removed/erased (as is the current trend) and more personally restrictive legislation is enacted, often a country becomes literally poor – financially poor. Personally, I believe this is happening today.

3. Politically liberal Christians often misunderstand that wealth is not evil when used in a godly way. Often, rich people are criticized and ridiculed for their wealth. God never told us that wealth is a sin, yet today, it is treated as such. God places some in wealth and others in poverty. God does this, not man. How are we to respond if we have wealth? Absolutely generously and personally, not making a huge demonstration about it.

4. There is a perception among politically liberal Christians that compassion should be legislated. That means people should be forced to give, out of their taxes, to charitable organizations designated by the government. What if I do not agree with those charitable organizations? I, like many politically conservative Christians, want to give to organizations that honor God’s word accurately– so that there is eternal significance in my giving.

5. Freedom loving Christians understand that the burden of over-taxation is weakening our country at a freakish rate and it is starting to limit our ability to be generous.  We also understand that the distribution of taxation is not fairly distributed, robbing Peter to pay Paul.  More than likely,  wealthy Americans have created your free-market job, yet they will not be able to continue to do so if this trend continues.

6. Debt:  debt which will bankrupt our country.  When will China call in our debt and expect us to pay?   Here’s the big thing: God says not to go into debt. Pay your bills. How can the average American pay higher and higher taxes with less and less of a paycheck?

7. Being a conservative Christian (a freedom-loving Christian) means that we think our government should limit its invasive nature in our lives instead of increasing its involvement. We understand this freedom gives us a greater ability to serve God with our finances and ministry.

7.  A reminder:  All Christians of any political persuasion should not wish the death of any member of the opposing party, no matter how destructive their policies are to this country.  Politics is becoming angry and ugly.  Civility needs to return to the political arena.  The Christian’s response should first be to pray.  Our next response should be to follow due process — stay within the means of the law — and counter the opposing ideology with grace, true and kind words said with integrity.  That doesn’t mean being a pansy.

8. And now for the hot button of the week. Illegal immigration. Freedom-loving Christians truly are compassionate towards those who desire a better life in our country.  However, we also have compassion for our citizens whose properties are being defaced — whose citizens are being murdered in cold blood. We understand that for years, the federal government has not enforced current laws and that in order for a state to survive, it must handle its affairs so that it can survive.  The taxpayer burden for illegal immigration is immense and growing.  I’ve hear the current rate estimated at around 338 billion, but if you want to research that figure, you’ll have to make the time for that.  No matter the actual cost — it is a high cost, not only in financial cost, but in Americans jobs, as well.

Hospitals on border states are closing due to the strain of provided uncompensated care to illegals; schools are overcrowded and failing to serve the citizens of this country as well as they could on a better budget; other public services cannot meet budgets on these border states because the federal government is not doing their job. Every governmental entity in the state of AZ (and other SW states) has been stretched beyond their ability to recover.

Do we feel sorry for the plight of illegals? Absolutely! Except those, of course, who bring drugs and violence to our shores.  All are still illegal and by disregarding the rule of the land, they spit in the face of those who have come here legally.

A strong country — a giving, compassionate country, cannot remain strong and compassionate if we fall into ruin because debt, drugs and violence continue to invade its borders.  A country cannot remain strong if its very infrastructure collapses from the financial weight that is strangling it.  We — conservative Christians — are compassionate towards our own country and its possible demise.

Understanding these things, how then must politically conservative Christians respond when politically liberal Christians accuse us of not being compassionate? How must we respond when they chastise us unjustly?

First, I believe we must remember that we are all part of the body of Christ, thus always bringing into mind how Christ would have us interact with family. (And everyone for that matter.)

Secondly, I am reminded that Jesus says in Mark 14:7, “For you always will have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.”

Christians, if they know their Bible, will understand that the world cannot be fixed. We cannot level the playing field because our world is too broken and will remain broken until Jesus returns. We can, however, remain spiritually strong — work hard — earn wealth with the intention to give freely and generously — choosing to give to go to things of eternal significance.

We can be realistic and see that if America collapses under the debt and strain it is under right now, the world will suffer, because we are a giving people.  The only way one can give is if one has something left to give…something they have worked hard for to share.

The last thing (should be the first thing…) we can do is to know our scripture so well that when others throw ideologies at us, especially ones which contradict God’s Word, that we can counter “feelings” and “preferences” by using sound, biblical principles to stand on.  Not in a legalistic way. Not in a demanding, better-than-thou way — but in a balanced, informative, kind and solid way.

We can try to understand that:

2Peter 1:3-11 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Image by Monica Surma (Creative Commons License)

Image by Kyle Sumourd (Creative Commons License)

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