Friday, October 17, 2008

WWJD?

Remember the bracelet? It caught on at least in the christian world. It sure sounds spiritual enough. [What Would Jesus Do?] Even if it is perhaps true that concerning some [if not a lot] of the modern situations we face today the scriptures seem to be vague, if not silent, on giving specific directions as to what to do in those situations. ["What to do"--is different than-- "How to do" in my judgment.]

What has caught my attention, however, as reported to me by Mary my wife, is the use of the "WWJD" concept on a blog in regards to our presidential race. It seems a young woman [whom we know personally] reported on a blog that she had decided to vote for Obama. That is interesting to me because she is a bible believing christian who is quite intelligent as well as committed as she evidenced with a recent extended time working in Africa with people in dire need of everything including the gospel.

The "WWJD" comment came in a response to her announcement. The responder took her to task and ended by saying something to the effect that one should "think seriously about it and consider...what would Jesus do?

That might be an enlightening thing to discover. In fact, a better approach might be to discover what Jesus DID do since He did not live in a vacuum those thirty-three years here on planet earth two thousand years ago but in the context of a very political and vicious culture of His own time and place. What DID He do?

If He does become our guide for choices we make in facing a culture that is the antithesis of our gospel, as is every culture anywhere today since there is no favored nation status anywhere, we might be shocked at what His example really is. It is true that Israel was on a favored nation status historically but remember it was not because they were righteous. Rather He sovereignly chose her to become the conduit of the coming Messiah. After that Messiah's arrival, the reality of "an holy nation" was reserved for those who participate in the community of people out of every tongue and tribe/nation who call Him Lord. That doesn't fit any present geopolitical entity that I know of including the United States of America of which I am proudly a citizen.

So...what DID He do? Rome was ruling. Slavery was rampant. [Both race and gender] The poor were repulsive to all. If ever there was a corrupt and degenerate society that needed altering His did. I ask again...what did He do?

When political parties were formed and attempted to change things did He join? When laws were passed that denied His own values what court did He file His grievance in? When a Mayor or Governor or leader was selected by whatever process might have been then, what were the guiding principles He used for His own choice of a candidate? In fact, did He ever vote in any election at all? It surely would be helpful as a guide for us in choosing between Oboma and McCain as President if we could see what it was that He used to select a governmental leader in His day. Then "What would Jesus do?" would take on new meaning.

The answer is obvious. We don't know because He didn't make ANY known choices in a geopolitical sense at all. If we were to do what we know Jesus would do by observing His example, we would do NOTHING.

Now...does this mean we shouldn't vote or participate? Does this mean we should do nothing during our election for President? Well..I would absolutely have to say it means I can't announce my choice as His choice and yours as not being His choice. I sure can't say you're sinning [missing the mark] if I don't know what the mark is because it isn't stated in scripture even in example. I can't say without some pause that I know categorically "WJWD."

I can say I believe it means I'm to use every principle that I've found for me in the New Covenant that pertains to life in general and relationships in particular and make use of those principles in coming to my choice. It does mean I not to forget to have confidence that the ultimate results of all issues are genuinely in His hands for purposes I may not know as of yet. It does mean I'm to submit to every ordinance of man with rare exceptions and even then ready to pay the price willingly for not doing so in those rare occasions, whomever is elected to lead.

Does this mean it's better to not participate? That's not the point I'm making at all. The right or the wrong would not be in voting or not voting. The wrong would be to announce one vote as christian and the other as not. One has said it better than I can when he said, "Nowhere in the NT is there even a hint of a command for us to participate in the human political election processes, nor do we find it a forbidden activity." It is obvious to me that this quote isn't saying it's evil to vote or not to vote. What it's saying is each believer is free as a citizen of both countries [heaven and earth] to use his or her judgment in such matters.

Any vote a believer casts, however, must be done as an act of faith or it is sin no matter what candidate one votes for as Romans 14 clearly points out. So to vote for a person out of fear or anger or judgment [condemnation] or any other reason, except faith, puts us in jeopardy of missing God in it.

So..for whom am I voting? I don't know yet. But whatever my choice as a citizen of America, my confidence is not in that person or that party or those promises made.

What would Jesus do? He would/did do the work of the Cross and has left us [believers] with that message which far transcends any geopolitical message or situation and is needed by every person of every nation and is/should be our greatest concern and must never be mixed with or confused with any political party. Let me say it clearly for myself at least.

God isn't white or black. God isn't a Democrat, Republican or Independent.

God isn't even an American.

Paul B.

13 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

Paul,

AND ... your observations are completely in line with thee SBC's only consensus Statement of Beliefs, too.

Well, well said.

Sarah said...

Very well said!

Paul Burleson said...

Bob, Sarah,

Thanks to both of you for stopping by and commenting. This is going to be some election no matter the outcome isn't it. But that's the usual for America..right?

Bobby Brown said...

Perhaps the reason Jesus didn't get involved was partly due to the fact that God did not choose politics to build His Kingdom and change the world. Instead He chose the foolishness of preaching the good news about His Son. God's way is to change the heart of the person that leads to a change in actions. Political laws change the actions without changing the heart. It is like the daddy who told his son Johnny to stand in the corner until told to leave. Little Johnnie said to himself "I may be standing here with my feet but I am sitting down in my heart"!

Bobby Brown

Paul Burleson said...

Bobby,

Good word.

traveller said...

Paul,

You have been through some difficult days. I continue to pray for the comfort and encouragement of the Spirit to you and your family.

This is an excellent post. As always, right on target.

I think it is pretty clear why Jesus was not involved in the political intrigues of his day.....when you are the lord of all creation, you are Lord and Caesar is not (nor is Bush, McCain, Obama, Putin, Sarkozy, Brown, Merkel, Chavez, Hu Jintao, etc.), then you really do not need to be involved in the petty politics of these fallen earthly systems.

I just wish more of us who claimed to follow Jesus would actually acknowledge he is lord and act accordingly. A lot of our political problems would take care of themselves if that were the situation. If he actually ruled and reigned in our own lives others would see his kingdom and want to follow as well.

We are a funny bunch of folks.

Paul Burleson said...

Traveller,

We are funny indeed.

Someone has said, and I think I agree, that many christians are practicing atheists in their daily lives, whatever their stated belief system.

Aussie John said...

Paul,

What a blessing to read this article, and the comments!

Now I know there are thinking Christians in the USA, who have actually read the Gospels!

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie John,

Isn't that the truth. I'm encouraged every time someone comments. They're worth more than the post often times.

I'm sure the same is in your region. I know you are one who has read and understood the scripture. I'm blessed when you comment.

Steve Miller said...

Welcome back brother Paul. We have missed you and your timely insights. I keep reminding myself during this election, as in previous elections, the kingdom of God is not going to be ushered in on Air Force One. Additionally, however the result, I agree with the quote, "We have enlisted, for the duration, to bearing witness to the truth." Thanks Paul

Steve Miller

Paul Burleson said...

Steve,

Well put as always.

Lee said...

I can't add anything to the great comments that have been posted here except to say, "well said."

It seems to me that there is a spiritual vacuum in many of our churches that has caused us to rely on our own understanding, and turn to politics to resolve a lot of our difficulties when we are missing the presence and movement of the Holy Spirit. We need to have one of those "shaking" experiences the early church esperienced after their prayer as recorded in the book of Acts, though I fear that if God showed up in some of our churches in that powerful and visible of a way, people would run away screaming.

Paul Burleson said...

Lee,

You are so right.

I laughed when I read your "shaking" comment. But it was a sad laugh.