Back in the late 80s, I was pastoring 2 churches in Western Pennsylvania. During that time there were a number of bombings at abortion clinics. The local newspaper carried an editorial liking all pro-lifers to those who were bombing abortion clinics. I wrote a letter to the editor explaining that those who were carrying out those bombings do not represent the vast majority of people who call themselves pro-life. This past week we saw a terrible tragedy at the Capital when a large number of Trump supporters tried to take over the Capital building and disrupt the electoral meeting that was taking place. I do not believe that the vast majority of Trump supporters would agree with the actions of a handful of stirred up, angry Trump supporters. It’s very important that we don’t judge other people’s motives based on our own interpretation of events. Interestingly, we are called as Christians to follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is to be our model and while He seldom spoke on any political issues, the composition of His closest associates, the apostles, revealed that Jesus was not concerned about the political positions His followers had taken in the past.
One of Jesus’s apostles was Matthew, who would become the writer of the gospel of Matthew. Matthew’s call to follow Jesus is found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. What made Matthew an unusual call was that he was a tax collector. In fact, according to Matthew 9:9, Jesus called him right out of this tax collecting booth to follow Him. As a tax collector, Matthew would have been from the most hated group in Israel. There was no group that was more despised and resented than tax collectors. Tax collectors worked for the Romans and collected taxes from the Jewish people. The Romans were resented for being there in Israel, but tax collectors were even more hated because of their work for the Romans. Also in Jesus' band of followers was a man by the name of Simon who was referred to as, “Simon the zealot” (Luke 6:15). This title also corresponds to another place where he is called Simon the Canaanite which literally means in the Aramaic – zealot, enthusiast. The Zealots were a group of people in Israel who were fanatic opponents of Roman rule in Palestine and would do everything they could to get Roman out of Israel, including riots and murder. Yet Jesus literally called two men from these two extremely different groups to be his apostles.
When a person considers themselves a follower of Jesus Christ than pleasing Jesus Christ should become the guiding principle in our lives. Some Christians can’t understand how other Christians could have supported Donald Trump for President and other Christians can’t understand how other Christians supported Joe Biden for President. But one thing that I am absolutely sure of is that of the 74 million+ who voted for Donald Trump very few of them would support what happened on Wednesday afternoon and evening at the Capitol building. For those of us in the church, it’s very important for us not to question the integrity of those who disagree with our point of view, but rather to try to listen to one another with the realization that in our service for Jesus Christ He is to be preeminent in all we do, and one day we will have to give an account to Him for our actions and decisions (1 Cor.3:11-14). If I was a Trump supporter, I certainly wouldn’t want people painting me with the same brush that they would paint those who caused the death and destruction that occurred on Wednesday afternoon, any more than I would want to be painted with the brush that all pro-life people are in favor of bombing abortion clinics.
In the book of Romans, Paul tells us that one of the reasons we have been called into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ is to be conformed into the likeness of His Son. We read, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers,” (Rom. 8:29 NIV). If Jesus accepted and used people from widely different political viewpoints, and they worked together for the glory of God to help build the kingdom, then shouldn’t we also work together with those who may have a different political viewpoint than we do. The ultimate desire of our heavenly Father is that we behave and be conformed to the image of His Son. This motivation should overrule all other relationships and any political or racial prejudice that we may have. When we get to heaven, we are not going to be asked who we voted for in 2020 or what political party we were part of. The only thing that’s going to matter is our conformity to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s plan and purpose that He is working out in history. As the pastor of a multicultural, multiracial church I very much believe that Jesus is the one who tears down all these barriers. The sad and unfortunate events that happened recently should not become an issue of divisiveness in the body of Christ. If our objective is to honor and glorify Jesus, then we will accept and love people with who we may have strong disagreements in other areas of life, because that’s what Jesus did. Just a thought as I try to speak into the darkness and confusion.
In the Service of the King,
Pastor Rich Sivo