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August, 2004

 
Is the very heart of our Christian way of life an understanding that Jesus, from the unseen world of spirit, is a commanding presence? Or is Jesus a presence commanding Christians what to think, when to think it and who to support?
 
A commanding presence is one of influence. Jesus is our commanding presence whose mortal pattern we as Christians consciously seek to model. That is not a pattern of blind obedience to ecclesiastical authority. His most ardent criticisms were directed toward the priestly class. Nor was the pattern one of blind obedience to secular authority. When challenged about it, he spoke wisely, Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars.
 
Jesus does not live in our spiritual lives as a kind, gentle and loving but forceful and demanding equivalent of a divine Julius Caesar. The Lord does not authorize religious leaders to speak to us for Him. Nor does he reveal to any religious leader more than to us individually His will as to our decisions concerning our religion or politics. We as a spiritual people must not ignore our own internal promptings if they are based in Christ in our own lives.
 
We do not have some Christian duty to blindly consent when someone in prominence announces that the Almighty has chosen or inspired him to lead American Christians to specific actions that impact communities, a people and a nation.
 
As Jim Wallis at Sojourners pointed out, Mr. Bush somehow turned the light of Christ - which evangelicals desire fervently to enlighten the world - into the light of America and America's definition of freedom. Are we to then with a jerking of our knees fall in line behind such a messianic declaration?
 
I recently watched the Frontline program about George Bush and his spiritual experience, focus and outlook. I was impressed and found myself thinking, "Whats wrong with having leaders more openly unashamed of their spiritual beliefs? "
 
Actually, theres nothing wrong with honestly and openly trying to be consistent with one's internal values. But when Mr. Bush then proclaims that America has an obligation to impose freedom around the world as The Almighty's Gift, we ought to be able to safely conclude that if he really means what he says, we as well must decide for ourselves if that attitude is in close harmony with our own.
 
However, if we conclude that such a crusade is not our national obligation, we need to be honest about that as well and act on our own spiritual insight. Personal piety does not automatically equate to possession of the highest wisdom. Someone of greater piety than your own does not mean that that someone has more wisdom than you.
 
As a people of faith, we follow a Lord who taught us about The God of Compassion; a Lord who in many ways repudiated the War God of the Old Testament. Yet today we are being challenged to accept such a view of God. We are being challenged to test and believe that George Bush has been inspired by the judgmental and punitive portrayal of God in the Old Testament as opposed to the God of Compassion portrayed by Jesus.
 
Cast aside are the gentle and loving samples of Christ-like thinking as portrayed in the Good Samaritan, The Prodigal Son, and the Sermon On The Mount. Are we expected to ignore Christ's behavior toward the woman caught in adultery, Christ's patience with Nicodemus and Christ's reminder that the Father is aware of even a fallen sparrow?
 
Are we then to judgmentally condemn one another, show intolerance to different opinions - particularly spiritual opinions - and ignore political and economic collateral damage during this administration's "righteous" crusade and its many fronts.
 
In this coming election we are not being forced to choose between the Candidate of Good and the Candidate of Evil. Both candidates are professed Christians. Nor are we to consciously separate our definitions of Good along the lines of our political, economic and social beliefs and find or ignore its consistency with the teachings of Jesus.
 
If we are to ask, "How would Jesus Vote?", we are to do so with a comprehensive consideration of the values He has given us. 
 
We must reconcile our political, economic and social beliefs with how we personally understand Jesus' teachings. How do we incorporate Lazarus and the Rich Man, The Eye of the Needle metaphor, The Widows Mites and other similar Christ concepts in order to make an informed spiritual decision regarding how we as a people deal with our poor, our unemployed and our inadequately-insured sick?
 
Otherwise, we are as the Levite, turning a blind eye to one whom the Good Samaritan did not.
 
If Jesus was sufficiently opposed to the worship of money as to attack authorized money changers in the temple, how are we to reconcile our government catering to the wealthiest in this country at the expense of the poorest? How do the teachings of Jesus compare to policies that favor corporate interests that negatively impact employment, poverty and the environment?
 
The commandment to replenish the earth does not mean a commandment to exploit it to death and a permanent draining and destruction of natural resources.
 
A contrast exists here and we need to address it..
 
Adminstration philosophic and economic theories conflict with Jesus' own words and actions. Believing Christians must exercise their own internal wisdom in this regard. Lazy Christians will vote according to some prominent personality who, for example, declares that it is God's will is that the poor will always be with us so we can take their plight with a large grain of political salt.
 
Active Christians will honestly ask themselves, "If Jesus went out of his way to heal the poor, how is it we continue to stumble along in this country distracted by who marrys who, creationism versus evolution, and why a military crusade to force peace on the world are all more important than our own sick and poor?
 
Is not such behavior a selfish and self-centered hypocrisy?
 
National security is one of our most critical concerns but it is not the only concern. I do prefer a president inspired by God who is unafraid to acknowledge his spiritual beliefs. I do not want a president who espouses and effectively acts on his own personal interpretation of what God wants for me as a citizen of my country. Jesus never intended that kind of leadership approach and while I can respect Mr. Bush for his religious beliefs, I cannot support him as the spiritually overbearing commander of American troops. Nor can I support him as an economic idealogue. Both support a cruel counterfeit of Christian practice.
Arthur Ruger 2004

Arthur & Lietta Ruger 2002-2008. The American Choice is a  political internet journal based in Bay Center, Washington. The views expressed not authored by Arthur or Lietta Ruger are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of The American Choice or SwanDeer Productions. Permission of author required for reprinting original material, and only requests for reprinting a specific item are considered.

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