Church, We Have No Dog In This Fight

politcal-party

One of the worst aspects of an election is that it pits people against each other. We start noticing who is with us and who is against. We draw lines and form ranks. Its us versus them.

As we line up to choose sides the candidates lay out their battle plans. Pro-this and anti-that. We (hopefully) weigh the pros and cons and we chose our side.

We select our candidate. We stand united. We rally behind them. We argue as to why they are the most suited to hold office. We applaud their good nature. We justify their bad behavior. And we stand at the ready to defend and fight for their rightful place. This is our normal.

The question I have been wondering this election cycle is, why do we, the church, feel the need to pick a candidate? Why do we feel like we have to take a side? And perhaps most soul searching, why do we feel like we have to baptize our candidate of choice and line them up with our religious beliefs?

This is a concept foreign to many Christians in the world today and for most of church history. Things like democratic elections are still rare when you consider the breadth of human experience and existence. Yet here we are lining up, doing battle, anointing our candidates.

What if we decided we don’t have a dog in the fight? What if we said, you know what, these candidates are so flawed, so disingenuous, so other-kingdom focused, that we’re not even going to bother taking sides?

I believe this is what the early church would do. As the church was being born, first making its way across foreign lands, the Roman Empire held much of the known world and would soon experience great politic unrest. They didn’t hold elections and they didn’t care too much about what the church thought, but I think there is a lesson here for us.

If you would please allow me a moment for a brief history. Just a few decades after the death and resurrection of Christ, the Roman emperor Nero had become so unpopular that the empire turned against him. In response he took his own life, leaving a vacancy for the throne.

In the year that followed, four different men would hold the title Emperor of Rome. Galba would be the first and hold office for seven months. He withheld payment from his soldiers and they in turn killed him, backing the authority of a man named Otho. Otho would take the throne only to learn that yet another man was marching on Rome. This man, Vitellius, would conquer Otho’s forces and be recognized as the legitimate ruler of the empire. That is, until Vespasian arrived from the Middle East and dispatched Vitellius and his sympathizers, and took the throne for himself.

Talk about a crazy twelve months. It makes 2016 look fairly tame in comparison.

The reason I tell you this story is because I doubt the early church, our foremothers and fathers, put much stock in which emperor they supported. I’m guessing they didn’t pass out voter’s guides at the weekly gathering or put signs out in their yards. I am fairly certain they weren’t overly concerned with which one was going to raise or lower taxes and which one had a better economic policy or even which one was more pro-life.

I am positive they weren’t looking to see which candidate would more closely line up with their Christian values. They would have never tried to force one of them to fit their worldview in order to justify their support. I don’t imagine them saying, “Well if you don’t like Vespasian you must be pro-Galba.”

They likely would not have chosen a side. They had no dog in the fight. No horse in the race. Whoever sat in the Roman equivalent to the Oval Office made little difference to the church. I can hear them saying, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”

The church didn’t pick sides because no matter who is emperor, Jesus is Lord. They didn’t pick sides because the options laid out before them were unsatisfactory. They didn’t pick sides because the laws the Romans passed had very little to do with how they were called to live. They didn’t pick sides because God already sat on the only throne that mattered.

There is the Kingdom of God and there is the empire of Rome. They are two different realities. The church firmly established that they were Kingdom people. “Strangers in the world,” one writer would say.

Kingdom people have too much to do to worry about who is going to be the next Caesar. In the Roman world when babies were abandoned to die, the church brought them in and built orphanages. In the Roman world when health was fleeting and disease was rampant, the church brought them in and built hospitals and administered healthcare. It was the church who brought in strangers and foreigners and took care of the poor and widows. It was the church who stood against a world full of racism and sexism and classism and slavery. And they did it without petitions or lobbyists or super pacs.

The early church didn’t look for the government to legislate morality or justifiably use tax money. They didn’t look to the government for tax breaks or religious liberty. They looked to Jesus and tried to live faithfully.

Galba. Otho. Vitellius. Vespasian. Why pick a side? We are pledged to Christ.

Church, I truly believe in this election (and probably most elections) we don’t have a dog in the fight. I don’t think it is worth choosing sides. We have the two least liked candidates in our nation’s history and we keep saying you can or can’t be a certain kind of person if you don’t pick the right one.

To be so emotionally invested in picking the next Caesar is a waste of energy. To put our hope in whichever one we think will protect our freedoms the most is dangerously shortsighted. Emperor-to-be Otho promised the world to his soldiers, they put him in power, and then he withheld everything he promised and was forced out three months later. Don’t sell yourself to the highest bidder.

You don’t have to do all the lining up behind your choice. You don’t have to become their champion. You don’t have to justify their every move or attempt to get their world and your world to line up perfectly. Spoiler alert: they don’t fit. You don’t have to compromise your fundamental beliefs in order to pick one of the people desperate for power.

If you objectively study the candidates (and not just the top two) and can vote for one, okay. It is also a completely Christian response to say I can’t choose between these people battling for the throne. It isn’t a waste, it isn’t a vote for the other side, it is a matter of principle.

We are Kingdom people first. Our fight is a different fight. Our Kingdom doesn’t require borders or laws or military or taxes or presidents or elections. We have already made our choice. Caesar can have the throne, the land, the money, the power. None of that matters. Caesars come and go. Presidents come and go. Nations come and go. But the Kingdom of God endures forever.

So don’t worry. Don’t fret. Don’t feel like you have to pick between the lesser of two evils. Pick Jesus. Live faithfully. Love people.

If you feel you must make a choice and just have to put out a yard sign or bumper sticker, go with one that says, “I’m with Jesus.”

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40 thoughts on “Church, We Have No Dog In This Fight

    • what a bunch of ……… “If you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth.” One of the candidates will always be better than the other for the kingdom of God. No one is going to be perfect. If you are not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A very good word! We owe a higher allegiance to the Kingdom of God than to any earthly ‘kingdom’. One notable difference is that the early church did not have the opportunity to vote for any of the leaders in your example – they (the leaders) took power by force. The privilege (responsibility?) of voting in a Republic does make our situation at least somewhat different. But your main point is accurate: we don’t have to pick sides other than the side of Christ

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      • Brother, Let us not be deceived. Christians need to stand up as they did when this great country was founded. No one is a perfect candidate for sure but we as Christians MUST vote for Trump who may not be like-able to you, but Clinton is blatantly anti-Christian. Please do not give the enemy a free pass here. There is a much better choice: Trump!!!

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      • I don’t expect a perfect candidate, but I would like decent ones. No Christian “MUST” vote Trump. That is dangerous. I specifically said it is okay to vote, I am just asking people not to pretend these flawed candidates are our savior.

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    • I agree good article. When Jesus was here on earth I believe he had capability of powering over the earthly kingdom of His day. He instead chose to show the power of God. Earthly kingdoms power over, Gods kingdom come under and lifts up and supports.
      Blessings, Eric

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I too want to stand for Christ! No matter who wins, Christ has risen!! But this election like no other makes me look at the party platforms and what they stand for and that will help me make my choice. But I know Jesus Christ is Lord and I am trusting His will. Thanks Chris!

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  3. You’ve clearly hit the bull’s eye with this post. I am amazed beyond words to see the uniting of so many Christian leaders, not to spread the gospel, but to help their candidate win. I have to wonder what would be accomplished if this kind of passion and energy was invested in Kingdom work. But that would require trusting in God, not the government or any man.

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  4. “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

    “Therefore do not be partakers with them.”
    “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” (Ephesians 5:7 & 11)

    How, in the name of Jesus Christ, and in good conscience, can one cast a vote, aligning oneself with, pledging allegience to, either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party – or their spokespersons?

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  5. I must respectfully disagree with several portions of this article. I believe we absolutely do have a dog in this fight. It is the future of our nation. The next president will likely have at least two vacancies on the Supreme Court. I believe this is probably the biggest dog we have in this fight. I don’t think you can compare the time of Nero to the present. By the way, I am a born again Christian and 79 years old.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I get that Don and I know many people who feel that way. I think in our desire to ensure we get the right judges appointed we are overlooking some major and anti-Gospel things that are happening in the campaign. I’m not saying you can’t vote, I’m just saying don’t put your hope there.

      Liked by 2 people

    • There is a whole lot I disagree with in there, but I loved this line, “Whatever you bow to on the way up the mountain controls you at the top.” Evangelicals are lining up to bow down to Trump who has demonstrated his moral flexibility over and over again, while saying he has no need to seek forgiveness. If God is raising up Trump it is mostly likely as mirror to our own depraved souls and not as some hero to save society. He who has bragged about infidelity repeatedly, owned casinos, owned strip clubs, was for partial birth abortion just a few years ago, engaged in shady business deals. I just don’t buy it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Evangelicals are not lining up to bow down to Trump…..they are voting for the best of the worst. Trump is open about who he is. Hillary lies about her flaws. I find it timely that so many women have come out to accuse Trump of groping them. How is one assaulted on a plane where others are right there and keeps her mouth shut??? I usually would not question something of this nature, but the timing is really bad. Why not when he first got so close to being the nominee?

        Jesus did not come here to be king of this world, he came here to be Lord of our lives. If that means voting and not sitting back on our laurels, I will be at the polls as I always have been. Christians in the early centuries had no say of who would be their leaders….. I’m sure if they had the right, they would have. It would have spared many, many lives. We do have a dog in this race and always have.

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    • I did not say we shouldn’t or can’t vote. My overall point is not putting our hope and energy behind a candidate. Rome didn’t have partial birth abortion, they had “leave your kid out in the elements if you don’t want them anymore.” And the church found a way to rescue as many as possible and eventually change the culture away from the barbaric practice, without a single vote.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Truly an article that displays the self-absorption in the church. Have you even read your Bible? Would you have voted for David? And yet God made him king and continued to support him throughout his kingship. He was an adulterer, a murderer, and a vicious warrior. I’m guessing you would have copped out of that election too with no thoughts to the future of the nation in which God placed you or the unborn whose lives are worth fighting for. I’m amazed at the inability of people like you to separate church and state. We’re not voting for a church leader or for Jesus and godly people didn’t win the nominations of either party. So look at the party platforms, decide which best echoes your values and whom will protect religious freedom in this nation so you can still post articles like these, and vote.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Taylor.
      Here is how David dealt with his sin:
      Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Psalm 51.
      Mr. Trump has previously said he has no need for forgiveness, hates to apologize, and in this latest incident says, “I’m sorry… but they are just words.”
      This has nothing to do with separation of church and state. I could vote for an atheist who was a morally credible person. I don’t need a pastor for president but I would prefer one who doesn’t brag about sexual assault, degrade other people constantly, or lie consistently.
      And I will vote. But I won’t champion one of these candidates, nor forsake my values in order to justify rampant unChristlike behavior.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hey Taylor thank you for your input. I love the Bible it is useful for teaching , correction and showing us how to live. For me it is helpful to read the Bible looking through the lens of the cross. Throughout his life and on the way to the cross we see Jesus showing who God is. God continued to love and forgive even as He was unjustly convicted and killed. We don’t see the apostles of Jesus disciples try to rally against the government and gain freedom, instead they proclaimed the good news!
      Blessings, Eric

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh, Eric, I don’t know. I do recall Peter taking off the ear of a soldier. The disciples had swords. If we are able to gain freedom we are to do that. I don’t understand where many of you are coming from. Christians do not run away from being in wars or battles. Our country is in jeopardy from both sides of the aisle. I study my Bible. I see Jesus proclaiming righteous anger. He did not sit idly by waiting to go to the cross UNTIL it was his time. He left. He moved on. We are given the task of proclaiming His name. If we become a country as others are, without a voice, we won’t be here to do that.

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      • Brenda, please go see how Jesus responded to the the ear chopping. His words and actions are clear.
        And the church exists and grows in many places without a voice. We’re not dependent on political freedom.

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    • Thanks Rex. If I may, I don’t think the election outcome is necessarily God’s will. I think, as demonstrated throughout Scripture, that God gives us what we want, even when what we want is not what He wants for us.

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  7. I agree, Chris. These two candidates are God’s judgment (i.e. reaping what is sown) ON THE CHURCH. Also – the scriptures plainly show us what type of government THERE WILL BE at the close of the – no matter how we vote. Does the Church think it can change His Story? God’s ways are perfect, higher, and not our ways.

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  8. Sorry, but this is a terrible argument for apathy… It’s irresponsible (from a historical standpoint) and generally stupid to try and argue how a group of people 2000 years ago did or didn’t feel about the politics of the day when there’s no evidence to support the claim… The fact of the matter is that while the Church is to be Kingdom minded, until Jesus comes back we live in and raise our kids and grandkids in this world…and as such very much have a dog in this fight… The first century Christians didn’t have a choice… There were no emperor elections, but if there had been, it would be ridiculous to assume they wouldn’t have taken an interest in supporting the person who might have given them some religious freedom. Nero burned Christians as street lamps…the early church wouldn’t have had a dog in that fight? Please…

    I can understand fatigue with the election cycle… And I’m not a fan of any of the candidates… But there are issues that are important to the Church…and we should take interest in the election…because unlike the early Church….we have a say.

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  9. I don’t think anyone on this page or throughout our country has the right to throw the first stone. We are all sinners and that is why we are here, God has chosen us to make a choice as close to his rules as we can however, he knows everyone of us has sinned every day of every week of every year and we will continue to sin, it is in the human nature but, we must ask for forgiveness and then work hard to learn from our sins and stop doing what is wrong. I am not considering this choice based on how close either candidate is to God. I am a very devout Catholic and have been involved with pro life groups and I am definitely against the marriage of homosexuals and the adoption of children by homosexuals. I am looking and voting according to what a candidate can and will do for America in the future. Will they work hard to pass legislation that will curb abortions, will they possibly pass legislation that will put a stop to the persecution of Christians by homosexuals whether it be in a bakery or a church or a flower shop, will they end this constant killing of jobs through more and more taxes and regulations, will they work to bring more jobs to our country by making it a more even playing field with other countries, will that person bring the respect and security back to our country by dealing in a stern way with countries that want to harm us, will this candidate take my guns and leave me with no way to protect my family? Those are only a few issues to review when making a choice for President. When you look at them and study the answers, which of the two major party candidates seem to be willing to do all those things? Then ask yourself, which candidate, Republican or Democrat (third party candidates have no chance) has done things in their past that puts our country in peril, which candidate has forfeited the lives of Americans in a Terrorist country and lied about it, which candidate has ridiculed and demeaned American citizens because of their views. Because a third party candidate is a wasted vote, you will know you must choose between the Republican or the Democrat and after studying the facts, you will know which candidate should receive your vote.

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  10. Thank you, Chris, for your wisdom, your integrity and your courage in speaking the truth in this time of wicked, unthinking hatred. Thank you for showing the world that not all Christians have elevated unconditional allegiance to a political party over obedience to the commands of Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

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