Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Not of This World

I love politics.

There, I said it, and feel better now that I've gotten that off my chest. Times like these fascinate me, what with a SCOTUS nominee forthcoming (by all recent accounts, John G. Roberts, Jr. is the guy but I'm not going to go with that until I hear from President Bush himself - too many rumors today.) I find it fascinating to see people across the spectrum offer up arguments, analysis and (too often) inanity on the various events that define our times. Give me a topic, and I'll either have an opinion, or I'll inform myself to the point where I can have one I feel comfortable defending.

But. As much as I love a good debate on political and social issues, I refuse to align myself with one political party over another. And I try earnestly to listen to the smart folks on any side of a given issue. For all my fascination with politics - and my deep love of this country - I can't, in the end take it too seriously.

So why...would a political junky not align with a political party? Why would I avoid getting into deep political concerns? Well, part of the reason is pointed out in this recent David Brooks piece, where he points out something interesting about judge Michael McConnell: "he [McConnell] begins with the frank admission that religion is a problem in a democracy. Religious people feel a loyalty to God and to the state, and sometimes those loyalties conflict."

I absolutely, wholeheartedly agree. I am a patriot and love this country. I think it the greatest in the history of the earth in many respects. I honor and respect our leaders, even when their conduct is not becoming. God placed these men and women over me and I need to respect that - and try to - even when I disagree with them. I would never act subversively, or attack this country - and in fact if called to would do my part to defend it.

But this is not where my ultimate allegiance lies. I am a citizen of God's kingdom, an alien and stranger in this world. God has placed even the rulers of the U.S. under Jesus Christ. My ultimate loyalty and citizenship are of a kingdom far greater than even this great nation, ruled by one above even our president.

(This is not to say at all that I am looking to impose a theocracy in this land, as some might think. After all, the Bible is quite clear that we need to submit to the authorities God has placed over us, and commands nothing like a theocracy. Instead, we are to accept whatever form of government we find ruling over us. We are also to obey them for their benefit, and to pray for them. The caveat is that we cannot abide injustice, and must stand up for Godly principles and concern for others. However, our tools against those wrongs need to be of persuasion and compassion, not of violence or anger.)

This ultimate allegiance keeps me mindful of being careful about other allegiances I make. I choose my loyalties carefully, as the one I claim as highest puts demands on me that should not be tied to lesser things. I choose to be loyal to the U.S., and will gladly do so - but my loyalty there must, as with all loyalties, be secondary to my loyalty to God. And this loyalty does not extend to any political party. Instead, I strive to remain true to God first, country and family second - and so far I've been blessed to live in a country where these priorities do not conflict greatly. I thank God for placing me in a nation where I have liberty to serve and worship Him freely, and where I can peacefully advocate for morality, peace, justice, love and mercy.

I don't have anything against those who align with one political party or another based on religious motives, and I can certainly understand the view of those who see politics as a place where they can be influential on behalf of their faith. But God is sovereign over all, and it is to Him that I owe all that I have. I'm glad He blessed me with the opportunity to live in this land, and I am proud to be an American - imperfect though this nation often is. Someday, though, I'll be going home. This is not my world - it's but a waystop between birth and eternity.

God bless!

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