The Gospels don’t record Jesus talking politics. The closest he came to it was in the temple when the chief priests and scribes tried to have him arrested by Roman soldiers. They asked him, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” He replied, “[B]ring me a penny.... And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:14-17).
The election season is an exciting time, filled with hopes and hypotheses about what an individual or a party can do to make life better for the country. The excitement isn’t entirely positive; we worry about what people from the “other” party may do should they get into office, and we hope that “our” candidate will keep his or her promises and fix things that we think are wrong with government. In this time of debate and media inundation of different points of view, it’s easy to lose sight of God. What are the things that belong to God when it comes to politics and government?
I find an answer to that question in this statement from Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 340). In other words, the entire process of government rightfully belongs to God.
Like Christ Jesus, Mrs. Eddy attributed all real power to God, and suggested that unless we begin our reckonings from the standpoint of God’s omnipotence and consistent presence, we can’t reach meaningful and realistic conclusions.
It looks very much as if government is run by groups and individuals with varying degrees of goodness – as if our own good depends on the vagaries of human personalities. Looking around at all the evidence to support that view, we may accept the notion that everything belongs to “Caesar.” Yet, the First Commandment urges us to think differently. In effect, it says, Don’t let anything you encounter be bigger to you than God.
When we practice First-Commandment thinking, we find that lesser claims to power tend to fall away before the more solid fact of divine Principle. As it turns out, divine Love actually is the biggest and most authoritative force in human life, and that is true for us all, regardless of politics. The first words of the Lord’s Prayer go to the heart of the spiritual sense of government: “Our Father.”
What is best and most real in all of us is our shared inseparable connection to God, good. We can experience not only the aspiration of those words, but we can be moved by their inspiration to let government begin with our own real and valuable spiritual sense. As with a pebble dropped into a pond, the ripples will head outward, blessing all they touch.