Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Get Out of the Boat: RA, Religion and Politics

“Then Peter called to him, ‘Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.’ ‘Yes, come,’ Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.” – Matthew 14:28-29 (NLT)

“You know, everything would be better if I could just be king of the world,” my husband said with a little grin and a twinkle in his eye.

Ah yes, we all think we know everything there is to know when it comes to politics, right? If only OUR candidate would win the election, then the world would be a better place.

In this particular year, however, there are some of us here in the United States who are scratching our heads, saying to ourselves, “What if none of the candidates represent how I feel or what I think is best for the country?” or “What if we could take some of the best ideas from all of the candidates and use the debates as a learning experience to shape public policy, rather than turning it into a mudslinging contest?”

Frustrating, frustrating, frustrating.

It is the sentiment of people on both sides, I am sure, and even more so for those of us in the middle.

What makes this an interesting election year for me personally is that I am looking at it all with new lenses, through the eyes of a Christian writer and RA blogger. It’s no longer just about me. It’s about you.

You may not realize it, but every time I write a post on Spring Sight, I think about you. 

I think about your struggles with rheumatoid disease and/or other chronic illnesses. I think about the physical pain you have to endure, the uphill battles you fight to find medications that work, and the everyday struggles you face to be understood by others, when you suffer from an invisible illness. I think about how disabling this disease can be for many, and how you struggle with employment issues and all your medical bills. I think about all the doctors you’ve been through to find a good one. I think about the fear you face when the one you found suddenly isn’t a choice anymore.

It’s a quandary, isn’t it? In any political season, there are winners and there are losers. What we want and need may come from two different places, or none at all. What then?

As a Christian, I often find myself asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” 

The Bible is full of God’s commandments and promises, along with stories of followers who learned some lessons through trial and error, discovering in the end (usually the hard way) that God’s way really is best and that He really can be trusted.

If you’re not a biblical scholar, however, it can be difficult to discern the right thing to do in everyday situations if you don’t know where to look. My personal philosophy is to begin with the Ten Commandments and then to jump immediately to the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), which describe in great detail the life and message of Jesus Christ.

In His claim of being the Messiah, the one and only Son of God, Jesus puts Himself out there as the one true representation of God Himself. He specifically says He came not to abolish, but rather to fulfill, the Law of Moses. In other words, if you want to see the Ten Commandments in action, just look at Jesus. 

Jesus boils the Law into two main concepts: Love God and Love Others.

God expects us to honor Him – to place Him at the top of our priority list and to seek His righteousness and holiness in our personal lives – and to demonstrate that we are His followers by sharing His love with other people.

In today’s political climate, it can be tricky to choose sides based upon these foundational principles of Christianity. One side of the political spectrum says religious morality trumps all, and the other side seems to say “live and let live” with compassion and tolerance at the top of the priority list.

Guess what, though? Look at Jesus’ life, and if we were to really choose to be like Him, we wouldn’t be able to pick. He represents holiness and compassion. The same One who makes it clear that we should care for “the least of these” and “do not judge, lest you be judged” is also the One who said “go and sin no more.”

As both a Christian and an RA sufferer, there are numerous issues that are important to me, as I am sure there are for you. And like many Americans, I struggle with the right answer. I am counting on God to keep His promise to grant me wisdom* during this election process, as I look to Jesus as my guide and example of a true leader.

Regardless of the issue or the eventual outcome, however, it would serve us well to remember one key fact: God is love. He will not abandon you.**

This fact is illustrated in Matthew 14, where Jesus’ disciples find themselves in a fierce storm out in the middle of a lake. Tossed around by the huge waves pounding their fishing boat, they are understandably scared and unsure of what to do. Then along comes Jesus, walking on the water. Thinking at first they are seeing a ghost, they are terrified! But then Jesus reassures them, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!”

Reassured by the presence of Jesus, Peter then takes the ultimate leap of faith, stepping out of the boat into the waves, in response to Jesus’ calling for him to come join him.

When Peter chose to keep his eyes on Jesus, his fear disappeared and he was able to step out in obedience.

It was only when Peter took his eyes off the Lord and onto his circumstances that he began to be fearful again and then began to sink.

Even then, however, Jesus did not let Peter drown. Jesus saw Peter’s fear. He saw his lack of faith. He even called him out on it. But the Bible says Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, pulling him to safety. And He didn’t just save Peter. He saved the other disciples too, by quieting the storm.

Today, Jesus is calling us to step out of the boat. No matter what our fears of the future, or the realities of what we are facing right now, we have a choice to make. As we head to the polls during the primaries and again in November, will we keep our eyes on Jesus, or will we look instead at our circumstances and begin to sink? Will we trust God to take care of our needs, so that we can focus on serving the greater good of all? Will we vote with an attitude of “what’s in it for me” or will we instead be sincere in our desire to honor God and love others?

There is no easy answer in this year’s election. I will be reminding myself often to pause and pray. But regardless of what happens, we can be confident that no matter what the outcome, God will still be on the throne. His presence is powerful. His love never fails. And He will never, ever abandon you.

*James 1:5
**1 John 4:8, John 14:18

Get Out of the Boat: RA, Religion and Politics originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart,  and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. This week, I am also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace.

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  1. Very insightful and God honoring words, Linda. I can say it is one of the more enjoyable posts/articles on this crazy that follows the Politics this time of the year. I do think that one thing is so very important, that we His face... trust His leading... and let Him be God. We are called to prayer and He is always fully in control. Thank goodness! ;)

    1. Amen, Dawn! That is one thing I know for sure - He is God and I am not! We can do our best to study Scripture and pray for guidance, but ultimately we are but one voice among many. It is so nice to know that whatever happens, He is still at work for good. As hard as we try, we do not always know what is best, but He does! And so we must keep our eyes on Him and just trust...

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! God bless. - Linda