Jesus and Politics

Today is local elections day, which is also known as, “No One Knows How to Park” day in my neck of the woods, because of where our office is located.  We share a parking lot with Club Square; for those unfamiliar, it’s a massive, four block parking lot where the city holds the farmer’s market and other events throughout the year.  It’s also the parking lot used by several local business, restaurants, bars, and a church.  This church just happens to be a local polling spot.
And so, with every election, our parking lot becomes filled with eager voters who have total disregard for pedestrians, the right of way, handicapped parking rules and what those white lines painted on the asphalt represent.  Yes, it is as much fun as it sounds.
Seeing the parking lot today reminded me of our national election last year.  Remember the debacle that was “counting votes in Florida”?  Our polling locations staying open until 11pm, with numbers not being reported until well after midnight?  The lines and lines and lines of voters?  Ah, Florida election process…the reason we have always voted absentee, and will continue to do so.
I remember that last year’s national election just happened to fall on the same day as the regular delivery for the Budweiser truck at a bar adjacent to our building.  The poor delivery guy spent the better part of four hours wedged between angry voters and poor parkers.  Silver lining: at least it was a beer truck, and if there was ever a day deserving of a cold brew at 11am, well, national election day was it.
Politics are such a touchy subject, right?  It’s something that we tend to keep to ourselves in the Coke House.  Not because I wouldn’t want people to know who I voted for (Ron Paul 2008 2012 Ron Rand Paul 2016!) but because I’m consistently overwhelmed with the amount of negativity and manipulation involved in the campaign process.
My biggest political campaigning peeve?  Manipulating Jesus for your platform (and this goes for both sides of the spectrum).  Because, to be honest, I don’t think the Jesus I know would share some of the opinions that some of you feel he should have his name attached to.
I don’t believe that my Jesus would use platforms of hate, or scaring the bejeesus out of people, to get his message across.  I don’t think my Jesus would guilt you into feeling we owe people something that we can’t even afford to give.  And I most certainly can’t imagine my Jesus slinging mud, calling names and pointing out faults to get his point across.  He’d also probably want us to stop being so damn selfish.
The Jesus I know would want us to govern ourselves in our political lives in the same manner we do our spiritual lives, or at least the way he’s called us to live.  Decisions based on love and truth, on honesty and well being, on what would help us to create a nation and world that would make him proud.  He most definitely would want us to give of ourselves to help others; giving time, talents and money, in a sacrificial way.  You know, that whole “being a good steward” thing. 
Politicos: Stop using Jesus to try and get others to share your ideas; start putting him at the center of your life, and start sharing his ideas.  Base your decisions and ideas on his, and you may find that others are willing to follow suit for all the right reasons.
Let’s start by loving everyone.  Yes, everyone.  That includes people who voted for Michelle Bachmann, folks who believe in banning gun control, and those who supported the Affordable Care Act.  Because it’s not our place to judge those decisions, remember? 
Jesus isn’t Red or Blue,


Doing Well vs. Doing Good

When I saw this quote posted on Facebook, I initially gave it just a cursory glance and moved on (there were recipes with chocolate and things about Fall fashion in my newsfeed and those things were important)  But something made me go back and read it again, and that same something made me start to actually consider the words.
If society has taught us anything, it’s that doing well is of the utmost importance.  Go to school, get a scholarship, go to college, get a degree, start a career, climb the ladder, buy a nice car to park in the garage at your nice house that has plenty of room to fill with lots of nice stuff.  He who dies with the most toys, right?  The idea of “toys” applies to lots of stuff; not just actual toys.  The most money, the most popularity, the biggest stock portfolio, the most trips around the globe, the best dinners at the finest restaurants. 
At the end of the day, this stuff is exactly that: stuff.  And you can’t take that stuff with you.

Listen to George, folks.
A former pastor gave a sermon once in things with “kingdom significance.”  The sermon was essentially about the stuff in our lives, and its importance (or lack thereof).  She asked us to go home, and place a Post-It note on everything in our house that had kingdom significance.  Think about each room, and the stuff in it, and whether or not at the end of the day that stuff is important.  If you’re like me, you wouldn’t have many (if any) Post-It notes attached to your stuff.
That isn’t to say we shouldn’t do well; we absolutely should, and God has given each and every one of you gifts, talents and abilities that will help us to do well in life…but they will also help us to do good.
I like to think that in our home, we do keep it pretty simple.  I have learned that stuff isn’t all that important (and trust me, this was a lesson that took a while…you can ask my husband about the $95 blue jeans – OY!)  As I simplified, life became easier.  There was less stuff in the way.  Less stuff, more room for good.  More room for God.
Opportunities to do good present themselves each and every day.  No, it won’t always be rescuing a baby from a burning building, or landing a plane on the Hudson River, but the moments are there if you’re paying attention.
My husband is constantly on the look out for ways to help others.  One of his favorite things to do is pay the toll for the cars behind him in line at the bridge.  It’s just $2, but it’s also an act of kindness that maybe the person behind him needed right at that very instant.  One of the very small ways I do good is letting folks cut me in line at Publix.  Sometimes I have to insist to get them to accept the offer, but I know deep down there’s no way they wanted to wait behind me with my 72lbs of produce, 20 cups of yogurt and crate of pet food, when they just have a simple basket of items. 
I like to imagine that one act of goodness will encourage a “pay it forward” that just keeps going.  Showing kindness, goodness and love to someone else has a lasting effect, and could be planting the seed for future great acts.  Faith in action.
About six years ago, Evan and I went out to lunch at a little pizza joint near my office.  We enjoyed our slices, and just sat there, talking to each other.  When it came time to get the check, our waitress informed us someone had already paid our bill.  I was in such shock that someone would be that generous (lunch wasn’t expensive, but the act itself was generous) and that was a reminder to me that again, there are lots of little ways to do good if I just open my eyes.
There’s and old song called, “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love.”  Just that simple phrase serves as my reminder of how important doing good really is.  I want someone to ask us why we did ____________, and I want to be able to respond with, “Because we love you, the same way Jesus does.”   
Like I said, it’s not a bad thing to do well in life.  But for me, the ultimate measure of how well I’m doing is actually how good I’m doing.
Planting seeds,
We are one in the Spirit,
We are one in the Lord,
We will work with each other
We will work side by side

And they will know we are Christians by our love.