There are probably few verses in the Bible quoted more frequently than John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, …”  That being so, it behooves us to think soberly and intelligently about what compose the realities of this present world scene in which we live, and which God loves. How is that love that gave the world his Son incarnated, or made visible in our here-and-now? And, in the heat of this political season in these United States, how do we, who profess our trust in Jesus Christ, discern our responsibilities as citizens, what with all the claims and counter-claims, charges and counter-charges between parties and candidates?

Yes, and where does our priority lie between the lordship of Jesus Christ, and the authority of the nation to which we give allegiance? The apostle, Paul, used his Roman citizenship to his own advantage when it was necessary, … and yet he never affirmed that: “Caesar is Lord”, which was the claim of the emperor.

How do we appraise our responsibility as citizens of a nation in which the greed of the wealthy, and the humanitarian demands of such a multitude of refugees seeking haven from destructive forces in their home countries require a response? Stand in such stark contrast? At this moment of my writing this blog is the reality of a caravan of over 5000 refugees fleeing oppressive and destructive regimes in Central America which is approaching our southern boundary. These are more willing to face the uncertainty of what is before them than to go back to where they came from. Or the plight of over sixty-five million refugees abroad who have been uprooted from homes and profession, and thrust out into unknown places and circumstances.

Then, there are the political battles of the national budget, in which it is so obvious that the principalities and powers of wealth and greed determine more than do the humanitarian principles of justice and hospitality.

The inescapable fact is that if one is to profess that Jesus is Lord, … then the DNA, or the genome, of the life of God in them, then it is incumbent that his life and ethic must determine one’s choices and actions, even when it is costly. It might be critical that we recall some of those teachings of Jesus and the scriptures that speak to these questions:

  • “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.” – Luke 6:24-25.
  • “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8
  • “When the Son of man comes in his glory he will separate people as a shepherd separates sheep from goats … then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you …For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you visited me. … I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it unto me.” –Matthew 25:31 ff.

Those of us who profess that Jesus is Lord, are also part of his love for the world, and of a responsibility to show that love, both personally in the total missionary stewardship of our lives, but in supporting those governmental policies that reflect that ethic of our primary Lord. It will not do to give tax breaks to the already wealthy, and at the same time to deny making the costly expenditure that exhibit the humanitarian ethic of Jesus, and of those who share that ethic. To live and act otherwise is to demonstrate that we misunderstand our Christian calling into a very real and broken world. There, … our responsibility is inescapable, or escaped at our own peril.

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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