Winter Corral 2020
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
I spend most of my time on the silent side of politics and I only rarely delve into the discourse surrounding American democracy and our 2-party system. While it probably allows for me to lag behind in “friends” and “Likes” on social media, I am not one to tell others how to vote or even what to think…unless asked or a voluntary display of stupidity deems it necessary. I have a firm and deep belief in everyone’s First Amendment right and I follow it up with an equal belief in the Second.
Just writing that paragraph has me on the wrong side of my comfort zone, but “in for a penny, in for a pound” right?
Recently, I have seen and read and heard a plethora of discussion regarding our president and impeachment and the vitriol accompanying both issues. Both MARK GALLI and TIMOTHY DALRYMPLE of Christianity Today have written eloquently and thoughtfully about these issues and done so through the lens and context of Christianity. While both reference a dialogue, I have no way of knowing if one is really wanted or if someone in my position would even qualify to participate in a dialogue with such intellectual and faith giants. In this scenario, I am the equivalent of a little shepherd that is neither prepared nor qualified to be in such a massive fight. I am just a guy that runs a small charity in a small state that helps what the Bible would call “the least of these.” While Caesar routinely infringes upon how we offer help, healing and hope to kids, we have successfully facilitated the voluntary transfer of wealth from our donors to the children that we serve without taking any of Caesar’s money or resources. In my work, I don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about politics, but I do spend quite a bit of time teaching young people about morality and about Christ’s love for them that flows through our donors and through us towards them. For many of these kids, they don’t care who is president as they don’t see how it affects them.
Recently though, there has been a marked increase in the vitriol and caustic behavior towards our fellow man because of who they might support politically…and kids are watching.
Timothy Dalrymple, seemingly rhetorically eluded to a question, “With profound love and respect, we ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to consider whether they have given to Caesar what belongs only to God: their unconditional loyalty.”
These words have weighed heavily upon me since reading them. As a Christian – a very flawed and imperfect one who sins more often than he should – I value and rely upon forgiveness and redemption. More importantly in this context though, I have thought about Caesar and what now “belongs” to Caesar in The United States. More poignantly, what Caesar and the multitude of politicians that cumulatively form our multifaceted Caesar, believe belongs to them.
As the Bible says in Mark 12:17 – Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.
If we take for a moment – regardless of politics – the view that our faith is personal and that Caesar represents the government in our lives, what have we rendered unto Caesar?
As a Christian, I have seen rendered unto Caesar:
The education of our children
The definition of gender
The ability to pray in school
When life begins
An ever-increasing percentage of our earnings
Which speech is “free”
The definition of “shall not be infringed”
The definition of a child or man or woman
The care of widows and orphans
What bathroom labels should be
How much one is allowed to work
My use of energy
What can be designated as Hate and Love
Where my earnings, that were freely given to Caesar, are spent
– Foreign Aid, bailouts, social programs, political payoffs
And I watch as Caesar now wants us to render even more unto him:
The push to eliminate the tax exemption for churches
The definition of discipline in our homes
How we define science
What we are allowed to teach our children
What we watch or view for news
Whether we are capable of raising our own children
…I’m sure that this list could be expanded exponentially if
Christians took the time to create a list of all that Caesar has demanded be rendered unto him in each of their lives.
I, and many of those that I talk to, are tired of giving to Caesar when Caesar has done, in our opinion, a terrible job of ethically, responsibly and morally managing what was and is given to him.
When I vote, I am not driven to vote based on my social standing or the opinions of others. I just want someone that will go to Washington (or Santa Fe) and punch Caesar in the mouth for me at least one time. Punch him for all the times he wanted more rendered unto him that my faith allows me to be in support of. I have reached then point where I disagree with the size, power and scope of Caesar more than on the existence of Caesar.
In order for society and civilization to exist, there will always be a need for Caesar and there will always be a discussion about what should be rendered unto Caesar. Unfortunately, Caesar isn’t content with that and now wants Christians to render unto Caesar what many believe is God’s and, in my opinion, should be God’s alone. My undying loyalty and faith will never be given to Caesar as it only belongs to God. I will also never give my children to Caesar to raise as I also believe that my faith informs my politics. I will never believe that there is room to reverse that and allow my politics to inform my faith. My faith is in God and Caesar may change multiple times in my lifetime. After all, I’ve loved God since I was six years old and haven’t even really liked, much less
respected, Caesar since the late 80s.