“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When the Pharisees tried to trap our Lord Christ in a worldly dilemma – proving their utter foolishness throughout the annals of history – this was the Christ’s response. He drew a line in the sand, designating that there are things which are solely the domain of the world, and there are things which are solely the domain of God, and that this designation should not be violated. [Take as an interesting side note that “the things that are Caesar’s” are money. God has no concern interest in your money. He doesn’t need it to work His majestic wonders.]
This is Christ’s call to us until He returns in glory – to keep our perspective right and true. God is God, and government is government, and nary shall the two paths cross. When God becomes political, when politics are deified, neither will continue as their true nature intends. To politicize God is to (try to) put Him in a box. While this does not in the least bit limit God in terms of what He can do (nothing is impossible for God), it limits our scope of who God is and what He wants to do for us and through us. God did not send His Only Begotten Son to be an advocate for the pro-life cause, or to rally against higher taxes. The Christ was sent for to bring us salvation from the just due of our depraved, sinful lives. That is why Christ came, that is why He died on the cross, and that is why He rose again; that, and for no other reason than that.
To deify politics, more than being the move of a simple-minded fool, is monumentally dangerous. By placing our faith in the political system of the land, one ties everything they are and everything they hope to be to a system created and run by man. What we know from the several thousand years of human history should tell us quite clearly that man cannot be trusted with anything of value for more than a few seconds. Nathanael Hawthorne wrote that “Families are always rising and falling America”, and the same is true for the daily operations of any man-made institution. There is no consistency, only fluctuation. There are good times and bad, and when these institutions are deified, their bad days are yours. In their victories do you also share, but their victories are and shall ever be temporal and fleeting.
Yet this is the tendency of man, to place his political leaders on a super-human pedestal. Though I understand the line drawn in the human mind from authority to trust, man has been burned so many times in the past doing precisely this that it is an illogical miracle that it keeps happening. In a very real way, conversely, it makes sense. When government hijacks the language of the spiritual realms, they bring upon themselves an air of godliness. When so-and-so politician promises that his new program will feed and clothe the poor, will keep us free from harm by ‘the enemy’, will make us prosperous and thereby make us happy – when they speak to our deepest needs and desires, needs and desires once placed before God alone, they earn our soul’s trust. When they have won the battle of the soul, the war is all but over. Any proceeding failure can be explained and justified away.
They speak to our deepest needs… to a point. Once that point has been reached – once they have won their office – they begin to speak to our more worldly desires. Feeding the poor and defending the oppressed makes for a wonderful platform, but once the impracticality of feeding all of the hungry, clothing all the naked, housing all the homeless becomes self evident, the politician will perform the massive slide-of-hand that politicians are so adept at performing. No longer is the onus on the larger societal woes from the campaign. Now the focus is on you – what can the government do for YOU? This is the point at which the deification of government transitions from foolish to dangerous. Now they are looking for ways in which they may become the sole provider for all of your needs. No longer will you need to worry about you health, safety, or financial wellbeing. The government will take care of you if only you will let it. God tells Moses in the Book of Exodus, “The Lord your god will fight for you. You need only to be still.” Through David, God tells the eons, “Be still, and know that I am God.” As God calls on our inaction, that He may act, so to does an over-reaching, deified government call on their constituency to be still, that they may ‘take care of us.’
If it seems now that I am equating one call to inaction with another, then please understand that nothing is farther from the truth. God is God. He is the Creator, the Savior, the Judge, and our Heavenly Father. He is the absolute embodiment of justice, truth, and love – all perfected in Him. In Him, we can place all of our hope and faith, and from Him we receive more than we can ever hope for, and certainly more than we could ever hope to earn or deserve. He is God. When a government makes the promises of God – promises of justice, truth, freedom, equality, safety, or whatever other ‘promises’ deemed appropriate for the situation, government is making a play for your faith and your hope to be placed in the halls of power. Trust in the government, and watch as you are time and again left in want from a worldly shepard.
And still, God is. Before there was government, there was God. Before there was an Earth to be sought after by the greedy hearts of man, there was God. Before there was violence, corruption, hate, or pride, there was God. He reigns above it all, and cannot be dragged down into the fray, into the mire, into the trenches of worldly pursuits though centuries upon centuries of men have so ardently tried to do just so. He is God, and He is above it all. When man uses scripture for his own selfish aims, God laughs and turns his gaze. God is much happier with the destitute and righteous than with the abundantly wealthy but wicked. He is not impressed with your credentials or accolades. When this life is over, so too is your life’s resume. What impresses God, what pleases Him and brings a smile to His face (the only smile or face which truly matters) are the hearts, minds, and actions of those who use their lives to deflect glory away from themselves and towards their Heavenly Father.
“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to hope in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” – Ps. 118.8-9