jesus, politics, justice, mission & life

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Let’s be Matthews and Simons

We are living in a pretty partisan time.  Over the past few months, we’ve seen left-wingers and right-wingers ripping each other’s heads off over health care reform, taxation and Afghanistan and it’s fair to expect the same controversy with the departure of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and the appointing of a new judge.

But as crazy and aggressive as the political environment is now, I don’t think it is as heated as it was when Jesus walked the Earth.  The first century world that Jesus lived in was crazed with politics.  Instead of Republicans v. Democrats, it was the Jews v. Romans.  The Jews were upset that the Romans seemed to have power over them and their was this constant tension and disagreement.  When Jesus roamed the Earth, he was asked (often in hopes of tricking Jesus) which “political” side was the right side.   Why else would Jews have asked Jesus if they should play by the rules of the Roman government?

On top of that, Jesus had guys following Him around who sat on both sides of the aisle – so to speak.  His disciple Simon was a zealot.  Zealots could be equated to modern day liberal.  They wanted to overthrow the Roman government and saw it as oppressive.  They despised tax collectors.  And who was the tax collector?  His fellow disciple…Matthew.  Tax collectors were the conservatives.  But it’s more than that…this is like a socialist and an ultra-conservative like Newt Gingrich.  They had no problem submitting to the government because they often benefitted from it.  Tax collectors were often wealthy and were employees of the government.  But Jesus calls both of them and they follow him for three years.

I can only imagine the conversations that Matthew and Simon had throughout their years of travel and meals together.  It’s logical to assume they talked about every hot button topic and new laws passed down pretty frequently.  The crazy thing is that Jesus never commented on those topics.  To our knowledge, he never sat them down and went through what was right or what was wrong.  Neither Matthew nor Simon had to get their political beliefs right before they played an active part in Jesus’ ministry.  That’s really something when you consider how politically opposite of each other these two guys were.  It doesn’t seem likely that Matthew and Simon simply tolerated each other.  They were brothers in Christ and devout followers of Jesus.

I’m praying for the heart of Matthew over the conservative folks and the heart of Simon over the liberal folks.  Wouldn’t it be something if instead of partisan arguing, even over issues like health care, Roe v. Wade, our relationship with President Karzai, etc., our eyes were kept on Jesus.  We shouldn’t be discounting others from the Kingdom or questions someone’s faith or loyalty to Jesus when they sit on the opposite side of a social or political idea than we do.  If Jesus didn’t care, neither can we.

As Simon and Matthew spent more time with Jesus, I’m betting their political ideologies were shifted from liberal and conservative to Kingdom of God.

I think we should stop focusing on issues.  They have their place.  They are okay to talk about and discuss.  But when we stop searching out what the Kingdom of God holds on these issues, things get rough.  I believe that when we set our eyes on Jesus and what his Kingdom holds, political and social differences will fade away.

Thoughts?

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He rose on the third day…and hung out with me

I’ve been able to interact with the Lord throughout the day.  I didn’t ask for it.  I didn’t even try.

The sweet thing about today was that I didn’t have to try.

For Easter, I went with my family to a place that I put behind me years ago.  There was nothing wrong with the place, it was just a place I didn’t care to be anymore.  I have a new home now and because of that, this place had also been replaced.  But as I was sitting there with my family  today, I really felt God being to start something up in me.  I began to look at people around me, people I didn’t know, some I hadn’t seen before, and get the Lord’s heart for them.  I got prophetic insights and the Father’s love over random people.  I began to feel the authority of a son rise up – something that doesn’t happen often in Tulsa.  He began to tell me that he knows the things people are struggling with, he knows their pains and sorrows as well as their joys and strengths.

I don’t think anyone is surprised to hear about God loving people anymore.  Most people get that.  But it’s just God showing up in a place I hadn’t seen him show up before, or at least in a long time, that got me.  I had stopped looking for God here.  For some reason.

The rest of the day was similar.  God kept showing up in little, subtle ways throughout the day.  From my car ride to Norman to having full, lengthy conversations with Him and even healing Jill’s head, He was all over the place.

Good thing Jesus rose.

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Desmond Tutu’s on the “Reconciliation” of the U.S. Congress

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who worked against apartheid in South Africa and a Nobel Prize Winner, comments on reconciliation and…reconciliation.

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