It’s one of the funniest comments that I hear with any presidential election. The comedy in that statement is the lack of friends who actually followed through with their threat. I’ll be honest; it’s a temptation for me to think this way as well. When one or both candidates lack most or any of the Christian values we hold true, it’s really easy to start making our own plans to leave. Have you ever felt this way? It’s the feeling that sounds like “what if”. What do I mean by that?
The “what if” feeling is that whisper you hear at first. “What if so-and-so becomes president, and our taxes get raised?” “What if so-and-so decides to legalize this-and-this? Well, the outcome could be this! And the Church will surely die if that happens. How could Christianity survive in America if so-and-so gets elected and that happens because of him/her?” I’m certainly guilty of playing this game.
The Pharisees tried to play this game with Jesus, actually. In Matthew 22:15-22, the Pharisees tried to catch Jesus in a political and religious tangle. By asking if they should pay taxes, they were hoping He would either say “No, don’t pay taxes!” to get Him into some treasonous trouble, or that He would outright say, “Pay your taxes!” to accuse Him of supporting the oppressive Roman government. Instead, Jesus asks whose image their currency bore. It bore the Roman emperor, Caesar’s image. Jesus then says, “‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
What lesson does this bear for us? First, we need to ask ourselves “What belongs to the USA?” Jesus used the graven image of Caesar to show what the Romans owned. That means the USA has the right to our taxes, properties, etc. “What belongs to God?” If an image of Caesar reflects what belongs to Rome, what does our image reflect? Genesis 1:26-27 says that we were created in the image of God. We were created to love selflessly and serve humbly like our Heavenly Father. Matthew 5:48 even says to “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” But in a time where it seems so hard to do any of this, who can we look to as a leader? We look to Christ, and here’s how He leads us:
As a Shepherd
Political candidates seek to win us over with promises of lower taxes, equality, etc. and they often do so through manipulation, power games and mudslinging their opponents. While they do that, our Savior leads us gently like sheep and promises us the gift of eternal life. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).
On a Donkey
Note: this does not make Jesus a democrat (bad joke). When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, many of His followers expected Him to ride in on a horse. They thought Jesus was going to overthrow the Roman government and free them all from Roman oppression. These followers overlooked Jesus’ continuous acts of mercy and justice through peace, though. Instead of riding in triumphantly on a horse with sword at the ready, Jesus rode into Jerusalem humbly on a donkey. Our leader did not come to this earth to simply free the people from Roman rule, but He came to set His people free from the bondage of sin forever by dying on a cross.
This point is the most important for you to remember during this time of political change. We all have fears of what could happen to us. We feel more and more oppressed daily, and politics seem to pull that fear out. But we find hope in Revelation 11:15: “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The power to rule over the world belongs now to our Lord and his Messiah, and he will rule forever and ever!’” No matter who rules over us here in this land, we know and believe that we have Christ reigning eternally. His reign is one of love, peace, and one without fear. In Him, we are free from sin and have the promise of eternal life. This voting season, whoever is elected and whatever change may come, hold fast to your faith. Jesus will never let you go.