Okay, that is not quite the way I heard the first commandment in school. But it could be another way of saying “Thou shalt not have strange Gods before you.” I came across this version in a reflection on The 10 Commandments of Engaging in Politics. Yet another way of putting it … “Do not bow to Elephants or Donkeys.”
But when I thought about it St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians came to mind.
… there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to* Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:10-17)
Isn’t this what seems to be happening again?
If Christianity means loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself, then people of all political persuasions fall short of Christ’s central doctrine of sacrificial love.
The Democratic Party emphasizes some of those teachings and embodies them, and the Republican Party embodies others. Because political leaders are forced into partisan molds, particularly during partisan campaigns, neither reflects the spectrum of the Gospel.
Jesus’ core teaching was “Thou shalt love the Lord your God… and love your neighbor as yourself.”
So the lawyer asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?” Jesus proposes the Good Samaritan to make it clear … anyone in need.
Who is your neighbor? The President. The Vice President. People elected to office. What about the Democrat next door and the Republican across the street. Only the person who looks like you… speaks your language. The person in a homeless encampment. The family fleeing violence. You get the idea… anyone on the full spectrum of life.
Pope Francis constantly reminds us of our tendency to be a “throw-away society”, especially of life in all its forms and stages.
We are losing sight of what it means to “full gospel” Christians. The Gospel can not be reduced to a single issue or a single stage of life.
Jesus also made it very clear that we will be judged by what we do or don’t do for the least of his brothers and sisters… the least among us… all of them, however they present themselves to us.
Unfortunately, Christians blinded by culture wars, debates, and their own opinions about hot-button issues, tend to pick and chose who they consider as their neighbor. They often sacrifice the Gospel of Jesus instead of humbly seeking to follow the example of Christ.
We should never allow our faith to become overshadowed by politicians, political systems, or the short-sighted motivations they represent.The way of Jesus is better than any political policy. This is why Pope Francis calls for a “new politics”.
“Translations” of the 10 commandments for today
The 10 Commandments of Engaging in Politics
- Thou shalt not go to bed with political parties
- Thou shalt not be a jerk
- Thou shalt listen and build bridges
- Thou shalt be about the Kingdom of God
- Thou shalt live out your convictions
- Thou shalt have perspective and depth
- Thou shalt not lie, get played, or be manipulated
- Thou shalt pray, vote, and raise your voice
- Thou shalt love God and love people
- Thou shalt believe Jesus remains King
How well do you do?
- 1. Do not worship political theories or parties. -(You shall have no other gods before me.)
- 2. Do not worship political figures or images. (You shall not make for yourself an idol.)
- 3. God is not divinely endorsing your political opinion. (You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God.)
- 4. Do not use God to prop up your politics. (Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.)
Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk