Tag Archives: government

The Politics of Jesus: His Real Message

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I’m writing this on Election Week. All over the country people will be flocking to the polls to vote for the person they think will best run their country, state, and county. It is a grand privilege and right of every American to exercise the freedom to vote. I hope you did.

Thinking about elections, however, makes me think about Jesus.

What did He preach? Many people think that Jesus went around merely preaching that people should do good and doing good himself. When people think about Jesus they regard him as a nice man who taught many good philosophies on how to live life to the fullest. They think of all the miracles he did and are amazed at the power.

Many people think Jesus went around preaching that people should come to him. I mean, isn’t that what most churches are preaching these days? People should turn to Jesus. It’s almost like we think he was campaigning for three years. Vote for Jesus!

Look at the central event of his life – his crucifixion. Why was he crucified? Would people kill someone for doing good and being nice? Would people put someone on trial for obvious miracles? Would people kill a man preaching about philosophies of peace and unity and “love your enemy”?

No. Jesus wasn’t crucified for any of these things.

Perhaps Jesus was preaching a message of salvation to everyone that was different from the religions of the world? Maybe he was killed because of the religious implications of the messages he taught. No, this is not the case, either.

Jesus had one central sermon in his ministry, and it was the same message as his cousin, John.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Mark 1:15)

Jesus was crucified because he was preaching a kingdom that was different than any other kingdom of the day. Indeed, it is different than any kingdom that exists today.

The Jewish leaders didn’t like it because it presented a different role for them. In this kingdom they didn’t have the power to manipulate and control the lower people. In this kingdom the people truly had freedom. In this kingdom, religion wasn’t as important as they had made it out to be. Their presuppositions on how a person had to live in order to serve God were shattered.

The Roman leaders didn’t like this kingdom either. Sure, this was a peaceful movement, but the Caesar was the king of the known world. How dare they claim another king and claim allegiance to another kingdom. That was treason!

Over and over Jesus preached this message of the kingdom. Then, when he was crucified, Pilate had his title posted over his head on the cross: “King of the Jews”.

For centuries people have taught about this kingdom, but many get it wrong. Many people are waiting for the kingdom to be established when Jesus comes back and reigns on the earth for a thousand years. This is very similar to what the Jews were looking for in their messiah. However, Jesus tried to correct them over and over.

At one time someone asked Jesus where the kingdom will be, and Jesus taught that it wasn’t a physical kingdom. Rather, it was among and within the people who were the citizens. This was a kingdom with no borders.

Another time Jesus urged the people to watch for the kingdom because it would come before those who were there listening to Jesus would die. So, either the kingdom is here, or there are some really old people still living somewhere on the planet.

In Colossians 1, Paul reminds them that they have already been brought into the kingdom.

So, if you’ve been washed by the blood of the lamb, then you are no longer a citizen of the country you live in. Your primary residence is in the kingdom of heaven. But that residency starts now. You are called to live as that citizen with God as your King.

You are promised the kingdom as your inheritance. You are princes and princesses with Jesus of the kingdom. Jesus is your brother, and God is your Father.

As you plan and prepare for your time as a citizen of whatever country you live in, remember that it is a tertiary residency. Your primary allegiance is to the Father, your King. How you live here and now should reflect that.

May you live as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, and may your life reflect that citizenship. Blessings to you, the citizens of God’s kingdom.

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The Political Party of Jesus

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When Jesus called his apostles, he called a hodgepodge of people to come together to follow him. Have you ever thought about the variety of these men?

Jesus didn’t choose them haphazardly. He stayed up all night praying before he chose twelve out of the multitudes that were following him. These were the men he would mentor more closely – the men who would turn the world upside down.

Look at the makeup of this band of brothers. Several were fishermen. In fact, the three who were closest to Jesus – Peter James and John – were fishermen and not brilliant scholars. Judas was a traitor to Jesus. Thomas was the one remembered by his doubt.

The two in this grouping that fascinate me most considering the close company they kept for three years were Matthew and Simon.

Matthew was a tax collector. According to the Jews this would label him a traitor to their nation. He was working for the Roman government which was oppressive to the Jewish people. Most Jews hated tax collectors and grouped them with prostitutes and other “sinners”.

Simon was noted as being a zealot. A zealot was one who was a nationalist that wanted to overthrow the roman government. He wanted to restore Israel back to the nation he felt it needed to be without the oppression of another ruling nation. Barabbas was a zealot and was part of an uprising that led to death. Simon was in the same party as Barabbas.

So what was Jesus’ point in all this? I think Jesus was trying to show the people that the kingdom of God wasn’t about political parties. In fact, Jesus’ message was political but not in the ways we think of it.

When we think of politics, we think of Republican and Democrat and maybe Libertarian or Independent. We see the polarization of our nation around these party lines. We think of how our country should be run and who should run it. Matthew and Simon had opposing views of how the Jews should be governed. They were as polar opposite as you could get. Yet Jesus called them to work together for a kingdom that was not of this world.

The kingdom of Jesus is the reign of God in our lives. It is our choice to be governed by God only. The kingdom of God is not Democrat or Republican. It is not about all the things that divide our country. The kingdom is about love of God and love of one another. These are the two laws of the kingdom. When you meet the king you will be asked to account for how you fulfilled the two laws, not what your political party was.

So, if Jesus wasn’t about political parties, then can our churches be the same? We are called to treat others as Jesus did. He didn’t shun someone for being a particular political party. He didn’t ask them which government they stood for before He called them to follow Him. We are called to love others the same way. This is the kingdom of God. You are welcome here even if you are republican, democrat, libertarian, or independent. You are still called to follow Him.


Football and the Election

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I admit it. I’m guilty. I’ve been caught up in this trap before, so please know that I have already spoken this word to myself before I chose to write this article.

How do you feel about the government? How do you feel about the current administration either in the local, state or federal government? Think about your response to this for a bit.

I’m on Facebook constantly, and right now about 75% of the posts that scroll across my page are either about football or about the upcoming election. The lion’s share of my over one thousand friends are passionate Christians concerned about the future of America. They don’t agree with what is being done, and they want to help people see the changes they think are needed to be made for this nation to become more healthy.

Having an opinion about something is good. In fact, it is right to have an opinion about what you think is right. Without that ability how would we be able to know to do right? I think our ability to discern what is right and good is a God-given ability.

There are many people who are giving their opinion, but these opinions are getting more and more disrespectful. People are stooping to name-calling. They are condemning people who aren’t in opposition to the same people they are in opposition to. This is going a bit far.

As Christians we are called to a higher standard. It is so easy for us to get caught up in the flow of ideas perpetuated by worldly thinking. Yet, consider what Peter has to say in 1 Peter 2:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover‑up for evil; live as servants of God.
Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:13-17 NIV84)

When Jesus was on the earth he did not agree with the governing or religious authorities. That is why he was killed. He wasn’t crucified because he healed the sick or raised the dead or was a “good guy”. He was crucified because he spoke of a kingdom that was in direct opposition to the governing religious authority of the day. Yet, he did not tell the people to rebel against that kingdom. He encouraged the people to pay their taxes. He encouraged them to go even beyond the letter of the law of the land.

When he was on trial, Jesus was very respectful to the people who were unjustly accusing him. He had ample opportunity to put the authorities “in their place”, yet he chose respect.

Our culture today has lost the art of respecting one another. When you go to Wal-mart it is a breath of fresh air, not the norm, when someone treats you kindly and with respect. Yet we are called to live in this respect every day.

I don’t agree with everything the government is doing. I cannot support abortion. I don’t like how the economy is affecting my ability to provide for my family. But I know that whoever is there has been granted that authority by God, Himself. Therefore, while I don’t agree with the policies, I must trust that God has a purpose for me and my country in this.

Does that mean that God is planning to make our country great by putting a particular person in leadership? No. It may mean that we need to be humbled as a nation. It may be that I need to learn to trust God more, and I can only learn that in times where I am required to trust in Him.

You have a great responsibility to vote. Please vote. But also respect those who are in those places of authority whether you voted them in there or not.

This is the higher calling. This is the brighter example in this dark world.

May you be that bright example to those around you. May you consider how you present yourself to those around you. If people know you are a Christ-follower, then they will only understand what it meant to be thus by how you act. Please act according to Christ’s example.

If you’d like to discuss this, then I invite you to do so on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs,org. Blessings to you as you prepare to vote in the upcoming elections.


Kingdom Living at Tax and Election Time

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Well, tax day has come and gone once again. Many of you got returns back for the taxes you have been paying all year. Others of you are now trying to figure out how you’re going to pay your taxes. In either case there are a couple of thoughts I’d like to share regarding how we think about our government and taxes and the like.

Praying for the Tax Man

People have always been disgruntled with the idea of having to pay taxes. Even back in the days of Jesus the tax man was considered an unrighteous sinner who was a traitor to the people. It was a pretty bold move when Jesus picked Matthew, a tax collector, as one of his disciples. The story of Zacchaeus flies in the face of popular culture as Jesus chooses to spend time with a tax collector who apparently had been swindling his people.

So paying taxes and dealing with the tax man were topics that were constantly on the mind of the people in the days of Jesus much as they are on our minds today.

One day, Jesus was asked whether or not the people should pay their taxes. Jesus was teaching about a new kingdom not of this world, and the people were looking for a loophole (or a way to trap Jesus in his words). They asked him if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus told them that whatever belongs to Caesar needs to be given to Caesar, but what belongs to God needs to be given to God. Unfortunately for them, Jesus was saying that they did indeed need to pay their taxes (and we do too).

Even though Jesus knew of another kingdom that he was establishing by his presence on the earth, he still had a different perspective about the earthly kingdoms than the people had.

Here in America, we elect the officials that govern us. From the mayor and city council all the way to the president, the people who are in office are chosen by the voters. Hence we feel a certain a right about how good or bad they are doing. We have strong opinions about our elected officials.

When we are disgruntled with them it is not uncommon for us to make that a prominent topic of conversation amongst us. Here at tax time and election time there is much discussion over how right or wrong (mostly wrong) we think the government is handling our monies and our lives.

Jesus never dishonored the governing authorities of the day. Even when he was being mistreated directly by them with his trial he spoke no words against them.

Romans 13 reminds us that the elected officials and even those who are hired aren’t put there by us in fact, but by God himself for our good. Sometimes it is hard to believe that fact, but we must then do as it says in 1 Timothy 2 – we must pray for them.

Are you praying for those who are in authority over you? Are you praying for those who may be elected this year? As we fill our minds with prayers for others we often find our own perspective changes.

This World is Not My Home

Jesus wasn’t killed because he was a good man who healed the sick and raised the dead. He was killed because of the religious and political implications of his message. He bucked the typical religious ideals of the day and also created an ideal of a new kingdom that his followers were to be citizens of.

This royally aggravated those who were addicted to their power and manipulation.

We are called to that same kingdom today. We are called to live in this world but not of this world. we need to pay our taxes and respect our authorities, but if our focus is only there then we miss out on the beauty and fruitfulness of being citizens of the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is the reign of God in our lives. Some people are still waiting for that kingdom to come at the end of days, but Jesus clearly said that the kingdom was going to begin in his generation and that it would be a kingdom of people, not a kingdom of places. There would be no castle and throne or land to measure out its borders. This kingdom would consist of God being on the throne in our lives. And we, as citizens, would then live accordingly.

As kingdom citizens we are called to act completely different from the world around us. Just this last week I overheard a person using some pretty colorful profanity in a conversation he was having. Then, when I got a chance to meet him he made sure to let me know he was a member of a particular Christian denomination. This is not how the kingdom operates.

Sure, we can have opinions of how things are going. We are called to be involved and help make this world a better place, but we are to have a different way of doing things. We are to detest evil wherever it rears it ugly head – even if it may be in our lives.

The kingdom of God is a way of life in which God reigns in our hearts and the law of the land is love – love God and love others. If we truly live this kingdom life we can change the world beginning with our own lives.

It’s tax season and election season, and in response to all that is going on around us we have an obligation to pay our taxes, respect those in authority over us, and pray for them. We also have an obligation as citizens of a kingdom not of this world to live differently as we love and interact with others in this world around us.

May you be different. May the change begin in your life. May the world be different because of you.

If you’d like to know more about this kingdom of God and how to become a citizen, please feel free to call me at 245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you and God bless America.


Do You Approve of the Disapproval?

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We are all very opinionated people. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t feel strongly about at least a few things they are involved in.

Maybe you are passionate about your opinion of politics. Maybe you are passionate about the environment. Maybe you are passionate about whether or not it is ethical to use live bait for fishing (yes, there are some strong opinions out there about this).

Whatever our opinions, we tend to actively try to persuade others that our opinion is not only valid, but right. In fact, I’m writing this column in the “opinions” section of the Matagorda Advocate. Of course, my opinion is right, and you should heed my words. See what I mean?

Mass media has been actively trying to persuade us to take on different opinions about various topics through the years. If you believe in global warming, then it is not because there is good science supporting it. The biggest supporters of global warming are government agencies and mass media.

Our culture in which we live also persuades us. If we spend enough time around a group of people we tend to think the way the group thinks. It’s sad, actually, because we as people give up our right and ability to think for ourselves when we succumb to such influence.

Over the years, the influence of culture has changed the minds of the masses – even the masses in the church. For example, when I was born, the “d” word and the “c” word were absolutely forbidden. When I was a teenager, they were commonplace on the television and in movies, and they became more commonplace in the language of the Christians I was around. Then, as television adopted the “a” word, it has become culturally acceptable. Many people are still holding out, but an entire society has changed its mind about the severity of these three words because of the influence of popular culture.

One of the things that concerns me as I look at the state of the church around the nation is the change in the church’s perception of sin.

Within the last ten years I have seen a trend in teaching shift from dealing with the hard issues of sin and it’s consequences to become more about love and peace and non-threatening topics. Because of this shift there has been a loss in the church’s understanding of the severity of sin.

The other night I listed 48 sins for my teenagers to rate in terms of the severity of the action or thought. For about 20 minutes I had to explain what several of these sins even meant. Then, as I looked at the lists they had ranked, many of the teens listed several of the items as “not a sin”. When we start talking about these sins and pointing them out in public we get attacked as hateful from every side. So, we shrink back and hold it in.

What I’ve noticed is that the generations coming up do not understand what many sins are. They do not understand how the scripture places equal consequence on each sin – “the wages of [all] sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Each day I see teenagers that actively sin. But what concerns me even more in the masses of the church as a body is the acceptance given by the church to others who actively sin. I see people singing songs about being drunk. I see people posting about sex and drugs and homosexuality on their Facebook posts. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see them say “I am in 100% support of Insert sin here“.

Romans 1 says this: “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

Not participating in a certain sin is important, but in this passage we see that we are called to go beyond mere action. It says we aren’t acting right when we not only do the sins but also when we approve of others who are doing those sins. If you’re wondering what kind of sins are being talked about read Romans 1. There’s a pretty good list there.

We approve of things with our words. We approve of things with our money when we buy, or rent, or give money to them. We approve of things with our actions when we stay in places or do things that show support of something immoral.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we shouldn’t support the people that are sinning. What we can’t do is support the sin. This is difficult though, because our culture has equated the sin with the sinner, so if you disapprove of one you are perceived as rejecting the other. I do not approve of alcoholism, but there are many people that I love that struggle with this sin.

It’s time for a change. It’s time for a cleansing. It’s time for a refocusing of the morality of the church.

May you be the kind of person who initiates this change in your life. As we work together we can once again be a people who actively pursues God and all things righteous. As we fudge our morals the Adversary move closer in to our lives.

I’m praying for this in my life and yours as well. Please pray too that God will cleanse us and refocus us through His Holy Spirit as we recommit our character to being in submission to his good, pleasing and perfect will for our lives.

If you’ve never given your heart to Christ in the first place, then you still have sin in your life. That sin separates you from God in a severe way. You need the healing that can only come through the blood of Christ. If you’d like to know more about having a relationship restoration with God, then feel free to contact me at 245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net. I will not chastise or ostracize you. Jesus invites you. He’s re-inviting his church as well. God bless you all as you refocus on what’s needed.


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