#WWJD. Abstain! (3) John the Baptist

5 08 2016

If John the Baptist was here and now, what would he say about Election 2016?

Three episodes of his life stand out to me.

First, John remembered that Jesus is greater than any other leader.

His entire purpose in life was to make a smooth path for the coming JohnTheBaptistMessiah. He did this by denying himself the perks of his culture, and by telling others to get right with God. His baptism was for repentance; i.e. change your mind about what matters and change your behavior to please God. John said he was not worthy to strap Jesus’ sandal. That’s humility as a result of keeping Jesus in His rightful place as God’s anointed.

–> Election 2016. Let’s not get so wrapped up in the outcome of the Presidential race that we knock Jesus out of first place in our hearts. The Lord Jesus has survived and outlasted hundreds of horrible candidates and rigged elections! He will outlast this one too!

Second, John faced his doubts but clung to Jesus when things got confusing.

I’m remembering the time when John was in prison and was getting a bit bewildered. He had a clear calling, but it had led to his suffering. Understandably, he needed the encouragement of knowing that it was all worth it. So he sent some of his followers to ask Jesus if things were still under control out there (Matt.11).

Jesus did not fault John for this, but sent word back to him saying, in effect, “John, you would be so jazzed to see what I’m up to. People are being healed, sinners repenting, the poor are being empowered by the truth, and resurrections are happening. Keep believing and you won’t regret it!”

–> Election 2016. This is a great time to cut through all the confusion and realize that Jesus is at work today in phenomenal ways. We are living in a supreme illustration of the folly of the efforts of humankind. Our world-class democracy is like the tower of Babel — our best effort and our greatest folly. Let’s keep our eyes and hearts on Jesus Christ.

Third, John knew character mattered and did not compromise.

We learn that the reason John was in prison was because he spoke out about the immorality of Herod who had gotten involved with (affair? married?) his brother’s wife (Mt.14:3-4). Herod, perhaps tipsy on wine, made a promise he later regretted, and ended up having to execute John to save face.

When John criticized Herod, he was not keeping his views under wraps inside his believer’s fellowship. He was speaking into the public arena the moral standards of God. And he paid the price.

–> Election 2016. I’m troubled with the idea of voting for the lesser of two evils. I know there have never been any perfect candidates, either morally or in terms of issues, but the candidates in this presidential election are, to me, so flawed in character that I feel I have passed a tipping point. I have read many justifications for voting one way or the other, but I keep circling back to the obstinance of John the Baptist.

Photocredit: spindleworks.com  (btw if you want a good chuckle, google “john the baptist images”; some of the depictions of this guy are so wonky; I think if there is blushing in heaven that John is tomato red)

See prior thoughts on Moses and Isaiah. Next up is Jesus.


To vote for President or not (2)

30 07 2016

As I pondered who I should vote for come November, I was struck with the number of compromises of character and morality I would have to condone to vote for either Clinton or Trump. As much as I value the right to cast my vote for the Presidency, and as much as I dislike withholding it, I began to wonder if exercising the right to vote outweighs my troubled soul.

Voting is one important way of influencing my country – one way I have been given a voice. But it is not my only voice. I can write and express my opinion and, in this one contest, my words will take the place of my vote. Here is why: Americans have chosen two Presidential candidates that are so raunchy that my commitment to Jesus Christ leads me to vocally reject them both. In what I “know” of their personal character and certain of their issues, both candidates are so out of sync with the eternal kingdom values I embrace, that I conclude it is better to not support either of them.

I am deeply thankful to be an American citizen. Both my parents defended its freedom in WW2. My U.S. passport has opened doors of opportunity in several countries. So I truly wish that our citizenry had chosen at least one candidate worthy of American virtues.isa 41.10

In this series of protestations, I head toward the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” My belief is that He would abstain from the Presidential vote. As I  aim toward articulating an answer, I am reviewing some of the writings of those whom Jesus looked to, and built upon.

isaiahConsider Isaiah. Prophets like Isaiah were not called to be popular. Isaiah, if living today, might have 16 Facebook friends beefed up with 7 Twitter followers. Prophets received biting revelations from God, expressing how disappointed and downright angry God was at His people Israel. Prophets castigated God’s people for idolatry, intermarriage, adultery, sabbath-breaking, and taking better care of their homes than God’s worship center.

America would not receive a rebuke from God if it suddenly appeared on every computer monitor and TV screen. Evangelicals either. Just look at the way brothers and sisters are compromising character to support the lesser of two evils.

For this post, I’ve chosen some of the kindest words out of Isaiah’s mouth (Isa. 40:15,23-24). I like the positive perspective they give us at this time:

Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales;

He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, scarcely shall they be sown, scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, When He will also blow on them, and they will wither, and the whirlwind will take them away like stubble.

To my fellow believers who are all in a lather about this election, I remind you isa 43.2that America is not promised perpetual greatness. The effect of a Presidency is short-lived against the swirling winds of centuries. We who have joined the eternal kingdom are strangers passing through this place. God will still be God when the next century has come and gone.

When our national citizenship asks us to compromise our Kingdom citizenship, we had better have our wits about us.

Stay tuned. John the Baptist is in the on-deck circle!

Photo credits: (Isa 43.2) nyupperroom.blogspot; (portrait) oca.org

Leave me a comment won’t you. What are your thoughts?


What Would Jesus Do? Abstain! (1)

29 07 2016

WWJD  What Would Jesus Do?

WWJD was a semi-popular evangelical mantra a few years ago. I have found myself pondering that question as we have entered the most confounding election in my memory.

I plan to get to what would Jesus do, but I want to back up and take a running start at it, by considering some of the predecessors Jesus read and endorsed.

So let me start with Moses. WWMD?

moses_ten_commandments__image_2_sjpg637Moses went up on the mountain to deliver to the Israelite immigrants (fleeing Egypt, seeking a land of promise, illegally) the instructions from God. He came down with the “decalogue” (10 commands) once, only to have to ascend the mount a second time to receive them again, since the people, notably, had fallen into idolatry in the form of worship of a calf made of the precious metals and gems which God gave them from the Egyptians who were only too happy (after 10 devastating plagues) to see them depart.

So I think it safe to say that Moses valued these commands, and would see America’s election cycle through the lens of the revelation he received. One thing that came through loud and clear was that God did not want to be considered a peer with anyone else. (“You shall have no other gods before Me” Exodus 20:3). Neither did God want to become another in a line of revered entities (“You shall not make for yourself a carved image…for I the Lord your God, am a jealous God….”). So there is a back-story to election 2016 — America has shrunk God and phased Him out.

WWMD?  He would likely cite the bit about taking the name of the Lord in vain. Likely touch on remembering to take one day in seven to rest and reflect on how good God is to provide. I suspect he would mention the murder thing, and something about adultery. Oh, and coveting. Moses would say: Are you surprised you’re in this fix?

I’m not talking about the scuttlebutt some time ago in the U.S. about taking the 10 commandments off government buildings. No, what matters is that respect for God left our country long ago. The awe of the one true God left our hearts decades ago. Even from the beginning. Our founding fathers were only “Christians” in the (extremely loose) sense that they believed morality mattered. That was something at least. It would be good to go back to that at least.

As I have written before, the “pursuit of happiness” is not one of Jesus’ promises. He promised the suffering of a cross and (for the trouble) an eternal reward. Despite the brothers who now espouse a heaven-on-earth kind of reward, I’m looking for something a lot more glorious than possibly containable on this planetary sphere.

moses notBut back to the election… I think Moses would say to us: Look, human glory fades. Yours clearly has. You are in a real reality show, and it is not going well. You have made your decisions as a people. You have idolized a future with your “rights” and “equality.” You have, with open-eyes, violated every one of the 10 pillars of a thriving society — and have invented some of your own. Now your society has wilted.

Is there hope? What do we do?  Stay tuned… next up is Isaiah

PLEASE comment, like, protest, laugh… something to let me know you were here!