“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” -Matthew 22:21 (NLT)
Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law./Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. – Romans 13:8, 13
We live in a culture where patriotism is the marker of a good person. Whether it is the liberal or conservative version of it, it is becoming the beacon for good living more and more. Conservatives tend to say it’s about guns, taxes, and the way it used to be. Liberals tend to say its about public safety and progress. Both share a focus in one question, how can I be a better American?
There is not anything wrong with living in peace with America, but it is something that has consumed the Church’s American brothers. There are many churches whose sole platform is to promote the message of the moral majority or the religious right. There are others who think that God has called us to live out politically left positions. Regardless of the details, the sole primary obsession is how can I become the American that I need to be, but without first asking what would God have of me.
The problem this creates is that our first question is not what God’s Spirit is asking us to do. There are certain positions that, when approached as a Christian first, are subject to the question, “what would our position actually be if we truly tried to imitate Christ?” For example, when it comes to Pro Life issues, we tend to think anti-abortion positions are the only topic. However, we forget that if we truly value human life as Jesus did, then we must ask questions about war and capital punishment? What about owning guns for the intent of shooting other people? When we allow the life of Jesus and the guidance of the Spirit in our lives, we are challenged to question our own opinions
Even trusting in legislation (which almost everyone is guilty of) to produce a thriving culture that benefits the poor and needy does not reflect trusting God. Legislation can help make certain things better, but to truly protect the needy, those who are privileged need to value the lives of the needy and be willing to share life with them as directed by God. Just because things are on paper does not give an idea power. What makes something powerful is if a movement gets into the hearts of people and they begin to see why it’s important.
For the Church, the first and sole identity that we value is the one we find in Christ. It is not the one we find in a country. It is not the one we find in a political party. It is not due to race, gender, or socio-economic status. It is in Jesus that we find our example. Through the Holy Spirit, we can begin to understand where our loyalties really lie. It is not the flag we were physically born under. It is only through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the only hope of our world ever being made whole.