“… The biblical view is not just apolitical but antipolitical in the sense that it refuses to confer any value on political power, or in the sense that it regards political power as idolatrous, inevitably entailing idolatry. Christianity offers no justification for political power; on the contrary, it radically questions it.”
Jacques Ellul, The Subversion of Christianity
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“Not my president.”
For the moment this has become the rallying cry of millions of disgruntled Americans, but it’s nothing new to the Pilgrim. That’s because the Pilgrim has no president under any circumstances. Never has had, never will. The Pilgrim serves a King. And as a subject of the kingdom of that King he owes no allegiance whatsoever to any earthly president or temporal authority.
The Master of all Pilgrims, when asked to comment on this sensitive subject, replied with this sorely misunderstood maxim: Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar, and unto God that which belongs to God.
This statement has been commonly misinterpreted as implying that the Pilgrim is a person of divided loyalties: that he owes so much to the State and the civil authority, and so much to God. Case closed. But this is not what the Master intended. On the contrary, in making this enigmatic pronouncement He was actually posing an open-ended question. He was tossing the conundrum back into the laps of those who hoped to trap Him in His own words. In effect, He was placing the responsibility squarely on their shoulders and asking: “How much do you think is owed to Caesar? How much do you think is owed to God? How far, if at all, do the two overlap? To what extent do they cancel one another out? What will you do when it’s impossible to reconcile or harmonize their conflicting demands?”
We, too, must answer the question: What happens when the claims of the president run counter to the claims of the King?
What do you do when the King is the embodiment of gentleness and meekness but the president is Arrogance Incarnate?
How do you respond:
- When the King says, “Love your neighbor as yourself;” but the president says, “These aren’t people, they’re animals”?
- When the King says, “Put away your sword. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword;” but the president says, “I will get rid of gun-free zones in schools”?
- When the King says, “He who loses his life for My sake will gain it;” but the president says, “I’m the toughest guy. We’re gonna start winning so much that you’re going to be sick and tired of winning”?
- When the King says, “The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself;” but the president says, “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists”?
- When the King says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy;” but the president says, “As far as I’m concerned, you can go a lot stronger than water-boarding if you’d like.”
- When the King says, “Love your enemies, do good to them that persecute you;” but the president says, “I would bomb the sh– out of ‘em”?
- When the King says, “Blessed are the peacemakers;” but the president says, “I’m really good at war, I love war in a certain way”?
- When the King says, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations;” but the president says, “Make America Great Again”?
- When it is said of the King, “He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall;” but the president says, “Nobody builds walls better than I do”?
What do you do in a situation like this? The Pilgrim knows. You don’t say, as evangelist Franklin Graham and others of a similar mindset have said, “that prayer – and God’s answer to it – helped Donald Trump and Mike Pence pull off ‘the biggest political upset of our lifetime.'” On the contrary, like Peter, James, and John, you stand firm and declare, “We must obey God rather than man.”