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What Should We Do with Caesar Obama?

800px-Barack_Obama_addresses_LULAC_7-8-08It was shaping up to be a normal Labor Day barbecue—until I made the tragic mistake of opening my mouth. People were busy cooking, cleaning, and setting up and I overheard a discussion about one political issue or another, ” . . . I can’t wait to get Obama out of office; he’s so evil.”

Now, I’m not a huge Obama supporter, so I don’t know why I felt I need to speak up. I casually said, “Oh come on, he’s not evil.”

In retrospect, it wasn’t a good idea.

What happened next wasn’t a discussion; it was an eruption. The passion and vehemence with which they argued that he was an incredibly evil man set me back.

Christian character assassination

I hear it in our church foyers, coffee shops, and proudly displayed across our social media channels. Disrespectful and mean-spirited demonization of political leaders by Christians. And it isn’t just coming from the right. . . liberals are just as likely as conservatives to make diabolic caricatures of those they disagree with.

We’re not talking about reasonable dialog around political issues. We’re talking about the misplaced passion turned into venomous character assassination. Hatred masked as political debate.

It doesn’t help that we’re so quick to perpetuate false stories and hoaxes via Facebook, Twitter, and email that help to bolster our strongly held fervor.

It’s a travesty that the people who should be carrying the banner of hope and and value of others are so ready to spread distrust and hatred.

Offering hope instead of gloom

I don’t care how passionate you are about politics, or how bad you think things are. We’re called to better behavior by people who endured much worse.

Roman leadership was a who’s who of the fiendish and power mad. From Augustus Caesar (who reigned at the time of Christ’s birth) through Nero (who put Paul to death), Rome was in a rapid moral free fall.

Around the events in the 12th chapter of Acts, Caligula Caesar was in power. Caligula was a violent and sex-crazed madman who turned the Roman senate into a brothel, is rumored to have had incestuous relationships with his sisters, and tried to have his beloved horse, Incitatus, installed as a member of the senate. He was killed after a brief three-year term.

After a reprieve of one fairly normal reign in Rome, one would come to power who made Caligula’s regime look reasonable . . .

That devil Nero

Nero murdered his way to the throne eventually forcing even Seneca, the philosopher who educated him, to commit suicide. In his quest for power he killed his stepbrother and even his mother.

In A.D. 64, a fire broke out in Rome damaging nearly 75 percent of the city. Rumors began circulating that Nero had torched the city intentionally in order to rebuild a more opulent Rome. To quell the negativity, Nero took advantage of the suspicions most Romans felt toward Christians and blamed this fledgling religious group.

As the historian Tacitus tells us in his Annals (XV.44):

And so, to get rid of this rumor, Nero set up as the culprits and punished with the utmost refinement of cruelty a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius.

Besides being put to death they were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clothed in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed. Nero had thrown open his grounds for the display, and was putting on a show in the circus, where he mingled with the people in the dress of charioteer or drove about in his chariot.

All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, even towards men whose guilt merited the most exemplary punishment; for it was felt that they were being destroyed not for the public good but to gratify the cruelty of an individual.

It was Nero that was in power during the latter part of Acts (chapters 19 and onward), most of Paul’s epistles, and Peter first letter.

How do Christians respond to authority?

It is in light of this kind of dramatic and dangerous first-century leadership that Jesus encourages us to be peacekeepers, turn the other cheek, go the second mile, and offer our coat when someone want to sue us for our shirt. (Matt. 5)

It’s during Nero’s reign that Paul tells us:

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Tim. 2:1–2)

It is during trying and troubling times that Peter tells Christians:

For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:15–17)

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose.” (1 Peter 3:9)

It’s time to take our call seriously

If those that we look up to as writers of sacred Scripture have so explicitly communicated the sort of posture we’re to exhibit to all (even those in authority), who are we to ignore it. After all, they demonstrated the same patience and kind perseverance in the face of brutal persecution and real depravity.

Somehow we think it’s okay to point fingers, call names, and devalue others because we don’t like their policies.

When I talk to many Christian friends about Scripture and sin, they tell me that, unless they’re given good reason not to, they take Scripture literally. Yet, in spite of a very explicit and constant call to demonstrate honor and charity to others, they seem to feel a freedom to not bother when it comes to political leaders from parties they don’t endorse.

It’s got to stop. The spirit we carry into public discourse is as important as the message. In fact, the message can either be empowered by our graciousness or diminished by our condescension and patronizing behavior. And I know which one Jesus expects from us.

Can you relate to the experience that opened this post? Tell me about it in the comments.

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14 Responses to “What Should We Do with Caesar Obama?”

  1. Amen! What’s also discouraging is hearing it come out of the mouths of children who have heard it from their parents. We’ve tried to teach our kids the kind of biblical respect you’re talking about, and they often don’t know how to respond when they hear it. It’s hard enough for us as adults to engage in this kind of conversation, let alone our kids.

  2. I agree with you Jayson. I’m a conservative (quite) but I often become somewhat sick and tired of self-righteous Christians slamming everything the administration does, or says. They try to justify their venom by saying they’re “Conservative Republicans”. They overlook the blatant mistakes conservative leaders have made (many), all in the name of being “good Christian conservatives”. I’m no fan of the healthcare program but conservatives overlook the fact that we spend far more on healthcare than European countries with far-worse (statistical, published facts) outcomes per. mortality and morbidity etc. They overlook facts simply because we are the “Christian Right” and “they” are the liberal left. I now watch no television news now, none. I grew tired of the hate and venom spewed 24\7 on television on all television news sources. It simply drags you down into the muck and mire of hate and venom. I get my news online and that is often taxing enough. Good article!

  3. Living in the heart of conservative country for so long and being Facebook friends with many Republicans, my feed is littered with ‘impeach Obama’ or one of the many democrats in office. Obama is essentially the anti Christ to many of them. I understand disagreeing, but when my Christian friends start with the name calling, my whole being cringes. When I was a youth pastor, I had a very outspoken middle schooler who always asked that we pray either Obama out of office or dead. Obviously this dude heard some crazy things from his parents and probably added his own emphasis. Sadly, this junk happens within Christianity too and it speaks volumes to our nature to pit the us vs them mentality.

  4. I can certainly relate, but if the people I hung around with by choice ever acted like that, they wouldn’t be any more. Christian or not, it’s counterproductive to pronounce politicians you disagree with “evil”, when that is not the province of humans to estimate. You have to stop at “I don’t like the guy”, or “I don’t like what he’s up to”. You can have an opinion.
    Back when I was a youngster, we all thought we were justified in considering Nixon evil. I’ve gained a lot of understanding and compassion for people since then.

  5. Enjoyed the post a lot. Definitely feel ya, as most of my Facebook feed is littered with anti Obama or anti Pelosi, or whoever else they are pissed off at. Funny the stuff they share is littered with name calling and these people that are sharing are Christians. When I was a youth pastor, a funny 8th grader named Matthew would always want to pray for Obama to be impeached or that he die. So this obviously wasn’t his own opinion, which just shows the danger of the us vs them mentality and how we can pass this on to our kids.

  6. I’m sorry if you guys get left behind in the end. Any right minded Christian is aware of the lack of support that Israel is getting from the U.S. and the lump reactions to Iran’s Nuclear threats. I’m sorry to say this but, this president has done so much harm to our country. Job market crippled, gas prices the highest ever, telling Americans they didn’t earn their business, bengazi, Bailouts, Drones, Healthcare, gun control, NSA spying, Russia, Israel. How much more can he do? His sword boasts deeply through the heart of America. He is bleeding our country til there is nothing left. A true Socialist. But, hey, if it makes you feel closer to heaven than, good for you.

    • “Gas prices the highest ever”? Huh, funny, I remember very well commuting back and forth to graduate school in 2005-2007 and there were times when prices were a good but over $4 per gallon. Let’s see, who was president then?

    • Do high gas prices, Obamacare, crippled job market, NSA spying or anything else, inhibit you from living like Jesus and bringing God honor and glory? That is what you were created to do, not have complete privacy and control over your life and have the American dream.
      Thanks for bringing the truth, Jayson!

    • I went to a birthday party and these little kids were tossing things at a black llama and calling it Obama the Llama. They said they wished they had fried chicken to toss at it. I asked why and they said that Obama was the devil socialist, Grandpa told them its true. I think I know who gramps is, nice to meet you Leper.

    • Living in a great country is meaningful, but we cannot focus on it. Daniel 6 records that King Darius signed a decree making it illegal to worship or pray to anyone but King Darius. Daniel did not lose focus, but immediately gave thanks to God. Don’t tell those who want to focus on Christ that we’re going to be ‘left behind’ in the end. Many Christians around the world are joyous and loving even in Socialist governments, high gas prices, murder, conspiracy, poverty, etc. Christ’s bride doesn’t need good government to stay alive; we have hope of a greater country where there is no tears, no sorrow, no death, no pain.

  7. It’s easy to call a public figure the Antichrist on Facebook or Twitter, but it takes real effort to live up to the example of Christ day by day.
    I remember how much I didn’t like having GWB as a President, but I never thought of him or Vice President Cheney as evil. For all I know, I could see myself sitting down and having dinner with either of them the same way Jesus ate with the reviled tax collectors. It’s just I disagreed with their policies (and I don’t even agree with some of President Obama’s foreign policies). Not even the blind hatred of the late Fred Phelps could make me hate him in turn. But then, no one ever said being a Christian was easy.

  8. I remember when I a teenager and Clinton was the President, my Grandmother would say such vile and horrible things about him just because he was a Democrat (the Monica Lewinsky situation didn’t help things, either) but it just seemed so over-the-top for me. It didn’t hit home to me until several years ago when when I read a post similar to yours Jayson and when Obama was voted into his first term that I saw so much hatred from Christians on emails and social media that this was certainly not the way we should have reacted to his election. I said my peace and repeated it when Obama was re-elected but many of my Christian “friends” did not like, respond or criticize what I said. It’s frustrating that I have some Christian “friends” on Facebook (many are from the college I use to go to) yet they would rather be silent on how we should have been treating our elected officials than admit that they should have reacted better about it.

  9. Reblogged this on The Kept Life and commented:
    My sentiments exactly… I love Jayson’s writing and he seems to always be spot on! EnJOY!

  10. Thank you! …. And Amen.

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