Posts Tagged ‘politics’

You’ll be reading this Christmas morning, at least if you’re a subscriber who checks your email on Christmas day, and if you did, I appreciate it, and if not, I hope you catch it at some point down the line, because it’s important. A few days ago, In the midst of an internal struggle over whether or not to blast someone on social media, I wrote this:

“Every day, I see things on Facebook that make me want to jump in and comment, especially related to our political situation. There have been things I have wanted to blast, and occasionally I have, and I consider those times personal failures and I apologize. Instead I want to stand by my calling and proclaim, no human being can fix the mess we’re in. Only God can, only Jesus. We need to fully rely on Him, live to honor Him, and do what we can to make the world a better place, shining His light into our world.”

The support for the post was pretty overwhelming, but a few had other opinions. One friend stated the need for the separation of church and state. She’s right, we do need to have separation of church and state. Unfortunately like many I think she is misinterpreting what that means. Separation of church and state to many people involves little more than the silencing of the church on matters of the state, and this was never the intent. First of all, the constitution never mentions separation of church and state. What it says instead, as part of the first amendment, is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Translation, the first amendment protects the church from the state, while not infringing on the rights of worshipers, or of those who choose not to worship. People of faith have a right to have an opinion and to express that opinion and others have the right to disagree. Even a cursory study of church history shows anything less can be disastrous.

On the other side of the coin, two of my other friends, took me to task expressing something of a duty for me to speak out and not be silent. One of them even referenced Bonhoffer’s opposition to the Nazis as an example. For the record I agree that we need to oppose evil, which begs a question. Who is it that I should oppose? Respectfully, the WWII generation had it easy in this regard. The Nazis were patently evil and opposing them took great courage, but it was kind of a no-brainer. Today things are a little different. Both of these friends, I believe, would have me oppose the president and he has done a few things I really do oppose. On the other hand, it is my understanding every one of his opponents supports the killing of the unborn up to birth, and that is something I will never support. My other friend, the one listed above, posted something yesterday that essentially said Christians oppose abortion because it’s easier than caring for all the people that Jesus told us to care for. To me it has never been an either/or, and I look for ways to help as many as I can and to love everyone.

At the end of the day, I feel the need to stick to my prior statement. If you are called to the realm of politics, more power to you, and you are in my prayers. Serve the Lord to the best of your ability and honor Him. Politics however is not my calling. To me it’s a no win situation, and to try to win people to my side will accomplish nothing, because truth be known, I have a hard time finding any politician I can totally get behind. Besides placing our faith in politicians to save us is just another form of idolatry. When I let myself begin to embrace politics and to look for political solutions, I get angry and frustrated, and I start to lose hope. I start to want to blast the very people I am supposed to be loving, and if that happens I am doing the exact opposite of what I am called to do.

It’s Christmas, and Christmas is a time for hope. Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of one who, ironically, has no beginning and no end. Jesus came to lay down His life to set us free. In Him is found a victory no politician and no political solution can ever provide. He is the only leader who is totally dependable and the only One who can, and the only One who WILL, fix this mess we’re in. In Scripture, we are ALL commanded to pray for whatever leaders we get, whether we agree with them or not, and we are called to obey the Lord over men. This is the tack that, with God’s help, I will take. My calling is to speak God’s truth in love, and to spread the Gospel–a message of hope, and good news of great joy for all people.

Christ is the Victory.

Okay if you read yesterday’s post, I talked about how some friends took one of my Facebook posts political. I tried to explain to no avail that the post was not political, but it took on a life of it’s own. I decided to try to express my point a different way. Here is what I came up with.

To me it’s this simple. The parties more or less take care of themselves. They are more concerned with re-election than they are with what’s good for the people. This is not to say I don’t care about the country or the leadership, it’s just I have become increasingly aware that politics are not my mission. My mission is to spread the Gospel. For that reason, I try not to attach my politics to my ministry. That’s nothing but a distraction. If people disagree with my politics and let’s face it, there’s a lot of that going around, they might ignore my message. At the end of the day the message is what’s most important.

Look, Jesus is neither democrat or republican, He is above that and somehow so must I be. He is more and better. Politics shift our trust. We need to trust God first. Humans are fallible, so are every single one of our leaders. That’s why we’re commanded to pray for them, regardless of whether we agree with them or not. Jesus is infallible. He is the only one truly worthy of our trust. A lot of good ideas have died because they came from the “wrong party.”As Christians we need to o right regardless.

So yesterday I posted a couple pieces of my cartoon work on a Facebook group that I thought would really appreciate them. For the record most of them did, but one guy posted some really inappropriate comments on them. Well I always try to make sure that I might never lead anyone astray, and I know there are some kids on that group, so just to be safe, I removed the posts. So far no problem. Then I made a comment about how I really didn’t appreciate having to take my art down because someone couldn’t control their urges to post inappropriate things. I thought that would be the end of it. Well a friend, decided to turn that post into a commentary on how this is just more evidence of life in “Trump’s America.” Now to be clear, there was nothing political in either the post, nor the art, a cartoon ram and a cartoon rat. I was making a comment on not appreciating vulgarity.

Well of course once a political comment had been made. People started taking sides and things just deteriorated from there. Here’s the thing. I am trying increasingly hard each and every day to stay apolitical, especially online, because politics are not my calling. My calling is to serve a God who is above politics. With the polarization of this nation the last thing I want to do is strap myself, or my church or my God to a political party. Rather I want to help people to come to know, love and follow the only One who can fix the mess we’re in. It’s pretty frightening how quickly things can turn in that direction in this polarized time in our history.

I closed things out with this comment. “Hi my name is Dave I draw funny pictures, paint more serious pictures and try to share the love and gospel of Jesus… That’s all folks…” This morning I wrote and penciled a comic that will clarify my position. I’ll share it here tomorrow.

I was driving down the road this afternoon, making my way back to my office when I saw it. A big old bumper sticker, almost stereotypically on a Prius, that said “Jesus is a Liberal.” I almost lost it. He most definitely is not.

To my liberal friends, don’t worry, He’s not a conservative either, and this is not a political post.

Please understand, attaching Jesus to a political ideology is akin to creating Him in our image, which is, to my mind, the most dangerous form of idolatry. Further, it’s about the same as all the people who wanted to crucify Him because He didn’t come to overthrow the Romans. As soon as He didn’t do what they wanted, in their minds it proved He wasn’t the Messiah and so He had to go.

Jesus is not created in our image, we are created in His. Liberal and Conservative (and every political stripe in between) are human constructs that we try to use as litmus tests to see which of our neighbors we have to love and who is on our team. Jesus us above all of that. The standard for our lives is not Liberal or Conservative. The standard for our lives is Jesus. Measuring ourselves by anything less gives us a false sense of security and attaching our faith to our politics will do nothing but alienate the very people Jesus came and died to save. We see this nearly every day on the news. We support people who do reprehensible things because we say they fit our ideology, or we condemn people for past sins even though they’ve repented and fought their way back because they are from the other side of the political aisle. We can and must do better.

To be clear, there were two political parties who tied their faith to their politics in Jesus day, too. The were the Sadducees and the Pharisees. They were political opponents who badgered each other constantly and fought each other bitterly. What finally brought them together was their hatred of Jesus. We can and we must do better than that too.

Jesus is above your politics. If He’s not, you have an idolatry problem. If we would submit to Him, and fall under the authority of His Word, a lot of this political turmoil would go away. Human leaders are all flawed, and so are the rest of us. The only One who will never lead us astray is the risen Lord. He’s not liberal or conservative, He is the ideal man, the perfect leader, and the only One completely worthy of our allegiance.

Hi my name is Dave Weiss and I am a leader. If you’re reading this, chances are you are too. As a matter of fact, almost everyone leads someone and in that case, the vast majority of us are leaders. You’ll see why this is important in a minute.

Yesterday I got a notice from Facebook, telling me I have been a member for 10 years. A decade on Facebook, what are the odds? Well the odds go down every election year and they are really slim this year. Were it not for the fact that I stay in contact with a lot of people for the sake of this ministry on Facebook, I might have been gone. It’s not that I’m a huge Trump supporter. I’m not. It’s just that I’m a leader.

My main leadership role is my pastorate at Springfield Church of the Brethren. We have a membership that is probably between 80 and 100 people, give or take, and regular attendance of about 50-55. That is a fairly small group and while I know I am loved, and the people there are all extremely kind and gracious to me, I’m not foolish enough to believe that I can please all of them all of the time. Now let’s multiply that exponentially and talk about the president, congress, etc. They lead millions. The U.S. population is over 300 million people. The odds of pleasing all of us simultaneously are slim to none. With social media we see the ugliness of this like no other generation has seen. The bashing I see there is virtually inexcusable. People seem to think they have all the answers and they seem to feel like we would be in some sort of Panacea, had the other person won. I doubt this is true but this is not a post about politics, it’s a post about leadership.

Leadership is hard, largely because there are no easy answers and many people don’t want to be led. No leader can please everyone. We Christians know this because we see what happened to the only perfect, all-knowing leader who ever walked the earth. There is something else we need to remember. Jesus, who pleased very few as He walked the earth, walked right down the center of the will of God. Because of this, He is a righteous leader and we must do the same. In my study of the book of Acts this is made apparent. Peter and John healed a man in the presence of many and got locked up for it. The Sanhedrin (think the ancient Hebrew Supreme Court) is in a pickle. They can’t deny the miracle has been done and yet to accept the miracle would be to acknowledge that they (the religious leaders of the people) had a part in killing the Messiah. Their solution is to order Peter and John to no longer speak in the name of Jesus. Peter’s reply is epic. “Which is right to obey God or obey you?” Catching the irony in that statement is crucial. Should we obey God or the leaders, because we can’t do both? In other words one is wrong. It’s either God of the leadership, and it can’t be God. The leaders of the people are not following God. Therein is what it all comes down to.

If you can’t please everybody, and you almost never can, please God! This may or may not make you popular, but you will always be headed in the right direction. You are a leader. Speak the truth in love. Love the people you lead and follow God whether it’s popular or not. In the end this is what’s right.

Remember, you’re only a leader if someone is following you and if someone is following you, you’re responsible for where you lead them. Lead them where God wants to go. That’s real leadership.

readthisSo one of the things I am really struggling with right now is social media. I have sort of a love/hate relationship with it. One one hand, I have made so many wonderful friends and contacts through social media. I mean my arts ministry probably would not have gained nearly what it has were it not for all the things I have been able to share on social media. When I think of how hard it was to get the word out at the start of my art career compared to now, it’s unbelievable. A keystrokes and clicks and I can send a message to the world or at least the people who want to hear from me.

Of course the downside is everyone can send a message to the world with a few keystrokes and clicks. Not that I would want to deprive anyone of their free speech, but I used to teach my sons that they don’t have to say everything they think. That lesson seems to be lost on social media. We may also want to check in on what this really smart guy once said, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” By the way, that was God. This has been exacerbated ten fold since the U.S. presidential election. Man it is getting ugly out there.

But here’s the thing, to quote a semi-famous internet person, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” or at least I don’t. I cast my vote and the choice was made. At this point I have two choices. I can either allow myself to be distracted from my calling to lament a bunch of stuff I can do nothing about or I can buckle down and do the things I was called and created to do. I choose the latter because at the end of the day, God has this world under control. Leaders rise and fall. We always assume that the leader we get are there to make us happy and comfortable. Sometimes we get leaders because we are being judged by a loving God who wants to turn us around. God is sovereign and He commanded us to pray for our leaders. I am not called to politics (thank God), I am called to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am not called to get one man out of Washington. I am called to share the message that keeps people out of hell and that, my friends, is a full time job. I’m too busy for politics.

If you’re called to politics, run for office. If you’re called to something else, don’t get distracted. Do the work you are called to do, the best you can, to the glory of God. You have very little control of what happens in the White House and a whole lot of control over what happens in your house.

Be the best you you can be. Help all the people you can. Do the best work you can do and trust God. He will never steer you wrong.

Okay, I gave up politics a long time ago when it became readily apparent that I was letting my priorities get way out of whack. It was one of the most liberating things that happened in my life. Right now, though, I am starting to feel like that movie character who once said, “Every time I think I’m getting out, they pull me back in…” No. I will not go… I will not…

So here’s where I am at. Every day on social media my friends are battling on all sides of every issue. I have a lot of friends and they have a lot of opinions. I heard today that the UK left the EU. I have a few ideas on that, but why should anyone care about my opinion on the topic? I’m neither British or European, and as such, my opinion doesn’t matter. I wish them well and figure they are smart enough to work out what they will and will not be a part of.

Of course, here in the states we have our own issues. The forthcoming election now seems to be down to two candidates, Trump and Clinton. Frankly I don’t see how I could vote for either of them. Of course Bernie Sanders is still in and a lot of people will vote for him. Anyone who does that needs to think seriously about 1992, when a man named Ross Perot funneled votes away from the sitting president and gave us the first President Clinton. These two candidates are so unpopular with many that the third parties are starting to get energized. That’s not going to work for the same reason. Third parties need to run candidates, and lots of them, year year after year after year, if they want to gain ground. Instead they wait for a presidential year and drop a candidate in at the last minute.

A vote for Sanders is a vote for Trump. Likewise a vote for the libertarian is a vote for Clinton. I don’t see how I could vote for either candidate and so I don’t really know what do say. To be honest, that these are the two candidates for the top job in our nation, shows us something of where we’re at as a nation and I am starting to think folks better start reading the books of First and Second Kings STAT!

What concerns me more than anything else is the fervor these candidates seem to have mustered in the Church. To read social media, you would think that we’re electing a Messiah and that some seem to think one of these people could be the one. They’re not, neither of them and this is part of the problem. There is a Messiah. There is One who can actually solve our problems and lead us to the righteous path we belong on. His name is Jesus and church, our job is not, nor has it ever been to get politicians elected. Our job is, and has always been, to help people to elect to follow Jesus. This needs to be our focus and frankly the political climate we live in shows us it has not been. A national repentance is needed and it needs to start with us. To trust that anyone but Christ can fix what ails us is idolatry. The solution is not politics. We need to pray for our leaders and get back to work.

This nation needs Jesus. If we turn back to Him, politics will take care of itself.

Don’t lose focus. Who’s president is far less important than who’s KING!

nose2noseWhen I first painted this painting for my pastor, he gave it a title. He called it Two Guys Nose to Nose, With Their Noses Out of Joint. I liked that and it’s been its title ever since. It’s based on Matthew 18, where Jesus tells us how to deal with conflict. This passage is a must read for every believer.

I experienced a little conflict this week. I posted a status on Facebook about the way we believers sometimes try to politicize Jesus, which in a sense feels like people trying to create Jesus in their own image. I believe Jesus is above political labels and that we need to submit our wills to Him. Someone took that to mean that we should keep God out of politics, which is so totally not what I was saying. I just want to remind us that God is above politics and that we must submit to Him in ALL things. It was a misunderstanding and I didn’t let it go into a big thing, but it could have. Conflict in life is really inevitable. How we deal with it shows a lot about our faith and relationship with God.

There are a lot of things in this world that can leave us nose to nose with our noses out of joint… many things that divide us, but there is one who gave His life to reconcile us to God, and I believe to each other. We are all the on a level playing field at the foot of the cross, sinners saved by grace.

He said, “They will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another…”

How are you doing with that?

Sometimes I think I should walk away from social media. Every time I go to Facebook I see something that makes me want to rage. A lot of it is righteous indignation and I am simply incredulous as to how we could have fallen so far and so hard so fast.

Years ago, I swore off politics, because I started to realize that all the trust I put in people and parties was misplaced, even the best politicians are flawed human beings, powerless to fix the massive problems we face and when they try, things often get much worse. I decided to give up on politics and trust Jesus for all of this. The results have been fabulous… most of the time. Then I go to Facebook and I get heartbroken all over again. The temptation to plunge back in becomes very real and sometimes it is very much a Hulk-like rage. In those moments, all I want to do is say God you’re not working fast enough, I’ll take over. (Yes I am aware of how stupid that is, but remember Hulks are not know for being deep thinkers.) The temptation is to verbally SMASH. The problem is, I too, am a flawed human being, powerless to fix the massive problems we face and when I try, especially when I try to smash, things tend to get much worse.

God is good all the time, even when it seems He’s going way too slow. As a matter of fact the Scriptures deal with the concept. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) God is at work, and He is faithful, no matter how ludicrous my newsfeed becomes. No matter how out of control this world looks, God has it under control.

He can be trusted. Slow down, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” Think before you post and leave the politics to the politicians. You and I need to serve Jesus.

Today I am stepping away from our normal topic because something really touched me recently. I was at a lunch after a service the other day and someone near and dear to me was trying to explain my politics to someone else. He said I used to be a die hard republican and then I quit altogether but slowly I am getting back in. That scared me a little bit. I do have to admit some events lately have made me feel like the guy from the movie that said, “Every time I get out, they pull me back in.” Well for the record I will fight it and I am not going back in. I put politics behind me for something higher.

You see back in the day, I was a raging Dittohead. I listened to Rush Limbaugh religiously and towed the Republican party line strongly. My attraction to the Republican party came largely out of the fact that I am pro-life and my pro-life position was cemented in place by the fact that my wife and I suffered two miscarriages. No one convince me they weren’t babies (they still can’t, but that is a different story for a different day). Limbaugh was saying what I thought, I even sat in the audience at his TV show onces. What changed? One day at work I was having a spirited debate with a co-worker over the election. We’re good friends, but at times I felt like I was taking it too far. Still I was on the side of “right…” Then I felt the voice of God in my Spirit, and conviction came. “You spend a lot of time trying to get people to follow Republicans. How much time do you spend trying to get people to follow Jesus?”

It tore me up and I began to see. My political party was not able to make the changes I wanted to see made because they are just more flawed people. I began to see the ugly rhetoric that came out of the pro-life movement and I realized that was just another political position. People don’t need my politics, they need my Jesus. After that I quit politics altogether to focus on what is really important.

I am so glad this happened before social media. I would have been a political jerk on Facebook. I would have put away quite a few of my friends for the things they post. Now I just stop to realize we’re all just a bunch of people grasping for easy answers in a complex world. I’m not called to agree with these people but I am called to love them.

If you’re looking for a solution to the world’s problems, politics is not going to get it done. Jesus is the solution. How much time do you devote to helping others come to know him?

Pastor Bob Beeman articulated this so much better than I can. Check it out.