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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Barack Obama visited my house!

The strangest thing happened the other day. I know this may sound like a stretch, but Barack Obama actually visited my family to personally elicit our support for him. Let me tell you that the experience was otherworldly. The whole time I’m thinking why is Barack Obama visiting us? I live in a middle class neighborhood and don’t have any connections with rich and influential people. What’s Barack Obama doing in my house?

Two days later, another bizarre incident happened. After saying goodbye to an old friend that came to visit my wife and me, I looked outside and saw that our visitor had accidentally totaled my car while backing out of the driveway—and then fled the scene of the crime! The next thing I remember happening is I called the local repair shop and guess who answers the phone? Ron Paul! I actually haggled with Ron Paul on the phone for about five minutes only to find out that my car was irreparable. The whole time I’m thinking is it really that easy to get a hold of Ron Paul?

If you find these two stories unbelievable, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The universe is still shifting on its axis. For the record, the above incidents never happened—except for in my dreams—literally. I’m reasonably sure that the whole Barack Obama dream comes from a CNN episode I watched the night before about John McCain’s first run for congress where he literally knocked on people’s doors to solicit votes. Now as to why Ron Paul is working at a local auto repair shop and living in my aunt’s old house, beats me!

It seems like since the start of the Democratic National convention, and the Republican convention that immediately followed, politics has invaded nearly every area of our lives. No matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to escape! Watching bits and pieces of the conventions over the past few weeks, I couldn’t help but notice the glitz, the glamour, and the adulation that goes into elevating our political leaders to near godlike status—and how their star-struck fans so easily bask in the glory of their would be saviors.

John McCain’s adoring fans seem to believe that if only they can get their guy elected to the White House, righteousness and morality will be restored to the land, America will be spared the horrors of a left-wing socialist panzie—and how could I forget—evil will be defeated. Barack Obama’s adoring fans seem to think that all they have to do to end poverty, heal the nation’s racial divide, and save the nation from Bible toting war mongers is put a check mark next to a drawing of a donkey in November. Can it really be that simple?

Enter into human history, Jesus of Nazareth. One of the things I love about Jesus is how He refused to be awed by the powers that be of His day. I would love to have been around when Jesus called Herod a fox, or when He referred to the religious leaders—who held a similar position to modern day mullahs in Iran—brood of vipers. Even more, I’d love to have been a peasant in the crowd watching Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. Author Shane Claiborne in His book Jesus for President compares Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem to a U.S. president riding into the inauguration ceremony on a bicycle. If Claiborne is right, then Jesus was a lot more of a prankster than I’ve ever imagined Him to be. The question is why would Jesus go out of His way to mock power?

I’m not a psychoanalyst, but I’d be willing to risk a guess. I think that one of the reasons that Jesus came into the world was to crush the all-too-human tendency to look to political rulers for earthly salvation. When Jesus took up a towel to wash His disciples feet, His disciples were offended because they didn’t want their master behaving like a slave, but what they failed to realize is that was exactly Jesus’ point! In Jesus’ value system the powerless is superior to the powerful. Like His mother, Jesus embraced a value system that elevated the poor over the prince, where God puts down the mighty from their seats and elevates the humble (Luke 1:52). Rather than embracing political power to bring about earthly change, which is what Satan tempted Him to do, Jesus put His faith in the upside down Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that puts faith not in the power of the sword, but in the power of self-sacrificial love.

As tempting as it may be to be awed by the power of modern Caesars, followers of Jesus are never to forget that the Word of God tells us not to put our trust in princes (Psalm 146:3). Rather than trusting in the coercive power of the sword to effect moral change in the world, followers of Jesus put their faith in an otherworldly kingdom that rules not with the power of a sword, but with the power of a towel. As eloquent and sincere as they may be, neither McCain nor Obama are going to save the world, let alone America. True power flows from the cross, not from Caesar’s throne.

5 comments:

toby said...

since Jesus was disinterested towards political power, does that mean that Christians do not have the traditionally emphasized "Christian responsibility to vote [for socially conservative candidates]"?

should Christians care about voting? should we vote only based on one issue? or should we vote just like anyone else would, based on the issues that are personally important to us? sorry if i already asked you about this

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Thank you for your question Toby. Since the question is a loaded one, I'll have to give you a short answer.

I would definitely hesitate to say that Christians have a "Christian" responsibility to vote, as if voting for a particular candidate has anything to do with voting in the Kingdom of God.

I say vote if you want to, but vote a broad range of moral issues, not just one or two.

If you decide not to vote, that's okay too, but I'd recommend staying informed about the moral issues and asking God to show you ways that you can make a moral difference on the same issues without having to pimp Caesar to do the job for you.

Adam said...

Wow Aaron I can feel your love for Christians being overly engaged in politics from here! Anyway I strongly agree with your sentiments on this issue. I personally am amazed how Christians(most evangelicals)are so quick to back one person or another and promote them as if Jesus Himself was about to take the presidency. The very day that the McCain party announce Ms. Palin as the VP, Becky Fischer (well known children minister and maker of 'Jesus Camp')sent an email out that showed Ms. Palin in a church in Colorado speaking of her beliefs and such. The title of the email was "this speaks for itself". It was as if all Christians everywhere are supposed to assume this is a God thing with Ms. Palin because she is known to go to church, and that we all should vote for her based off of this alone. Has that ever been a qualification to lead a nation? Honestly, the times I've seen her speak I was not impressed at all. I really think Joe Biden will tear her to pieces in a debate but anyhow… It actually worries me to think she might be in charge if McCain’s health doesn't hold up. I could go on for days about stuff like this but really, how naive are we becoming? I bet most Christians aren't even aware of the candidates positions on issues. They simple see 'Christian/republican' and 'non-Christian/democrat'. God help us all to become smarter than this foolishness!

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Thank you Adam for your kind response. You are right in that I am very passionate about this issue. I'm glad to hear that there are other Christians thinking the same thing.

Say hi to Val for me.

Enigma said...

Add me to that list of people thinking the same thing as you. I have grown very tired of either side of the political spectrum claiming the moral high ground.