Note: I’m not a political person. I don’t do politics. I started writing this article several different times and held off on publishing thinking, “it’s not worth it.” My belief in Jesus, however, is very important to me. It’s that belief that has pushed me off the cliff and into the political fray with this entry.
“I only date Christian boys.”
“Well, then, I am definitely a Christian boy!”
Cute girls inspired religiosity in me when I was a teenager. Heck, I’d even volunteer to pray out loud at a youth group thing if it would get me closer to a girl and make her want to bring me home to meet her mama! At the same time, if you asked my friends at school, the hallway jocks, if I was “a Christian” they would have laughed at you.
Actions speak louder than words, right?
Every four years I hear Christians say, “we only vote for Christians” to which most of the politicians respond, “Well, then, I’m a Christian!” It really doesn’t matter how they act in the halls, in their speeches or how they live their lives. We start seeing press coverage of them going to church and meeting with Christian celebrities and Christian big wigs.
The current political race is no different. “Evangelical Christians,” whatever that label means today, are rallying behind their candidate, cheering at the rallies and waving signs.
I keep looking for signs of Jesus because, if the bible has any bearing, that’s what being a Christian is about. It’s about identifying myself with Jesus as the one who shapes my life, my actions, my speech and my perspective. The word “Christian” is not something I inherited, it’s a lifestyle I chose based on where my Hope lies. Sometimes I resist admitting that I am a Christian because I know that, in America today, it can have little to do with reflecting the character of Jesus. But, I am quick to point out that I follow Jesus and ascribe to his life and teachings regardless of what “Christian” has come to mean.
In the movie “The Princess Bride” my favorite quote comes from Inigo Montoya saying, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Some of the most misapplied passages of the bible focus on judging. We’re not Judge. God is the ultimate judge. But there are scriptures that help us make sound judgments especially when it comes to people claiming to be Christians.
“You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” Mt. 7:16
Romans 12:9-21 is another passage Jesus followers try to apply. It has a lot to say about character and conduct. For example, “17 Never pay back evil for evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest clear through.”
And then, those who truly believe Jesus also believe that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives and starts producing His fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 says that fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Granted, many of us are still in the bud stage when it comes to seeing some of that fruit in our own lives.
What words do you think of when you think of the character of Jesus? I think, “humility, servant, grace, forgiveness, love.” It’s not that he was weak at all or lacked leadership. In fact, he was very firm and forceful especially with those who were using God’s name for their own personal power and position. Jesus consistently stood up for those who could not stand up for themselves.
That’s what I hope for rather than the politician who decides to temporarily slap the “Christian” label on his or her chest for an election season. My stomach turns when I see this Christian celebrity or that Christian power broker smiling, shaking hands and giving their endorsement to the latest label wearer who bears little resemblance to the Jesus I follow.
Cast your vote for whomever you want but, please, I beg you, stop claiming to be voting for the “Christian” candidate if their fruit looks nothing like Jesus. All that is doing is misrepresenting Christ and causing confusion for people who know nothing of him. Voting for one candidate because he is closer to Jesus than another, who also shows no fruit, is like standing with your arms held skyward claiming that you are closer to Jupiter than I am. The reality is that neither of us is anywhere near Jupiter. Leave Jupiter out of it.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. True Jesus followers show signs of this fruit, or at least attempts toward growing fruit, in their lives.
If you can’t use words like”love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control” to describe your candidate, you probably should stop using the word “Christian” as well. Go ahead and vote for whoever you want. Just stop trying to convince others that Jesus endorses your candidate too.
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Joshua 5:14-15