In it’s early years Christianity (or The Way, as it was first known) was still wrestling with what it believed and with what Scripture was. It didn’t think of itself as a religion really, either – it was poorly organized, theologically unstable and unpopular in a world that worshipped numerous other gods. Rome killed people who were seen as any kind of threat to the state or not willing to worship the ultimate god, Caesar. So when Christians said ‘Jesus is Lord’ it was a direct affront to the Roman phrase ‘Caesar is Lord’. It’s why being a Christian in the early years was so dangerous.

But the core characteristic of Christianity has always been love. God defined it, Jesus lived it, taught his followers the necessity of emulating it. The church that grew out of him was known for it’s selfless generosity and love.

Because they lived within the borders of the Roman Empire, the earliest Christians found ways to care for others simply because they believed that all people were loved by God and they were doing his important work. They would remain in plague infested cities to care for the sick (even at the cost of their own health) long after all other people had separated and fled. Care consisted of simple washing, feeding, consoling but in a culture that had little concern for sick, disabled or abandoned people their gentle care meant everything. As historian Rodney Sparks explained, “It was the soup [the Christians] so patiently spooned to the helpless that healed them.”

Is Caesar your Lord?

Their radical love for others dumbfounded the authorities and they even tried to copy the Christian pattern. The emperor Julian (360 AD) thought so highly of how Christians went about living that he tried to have the empire do the same but the initiative failed because it lacked an important ingredient – love.

Then, in the fourth century Emperor Theodosius declared the Edict of Thessalonica (380 AD) which made Christianity the official religion of the empire. The marriage of Christianity and empire made the faith mainstream but as it revelled in that comfort and power it also became sickly (like today?). Jesus’ narrow requirement of his followers to love and to ‘take up your Cross daily and follow me’ became little more than a quote.

Idol of comfort.

Last month the Trump administration, buoyed by continued support from his party and electoral base, and enforced by the Department of Justice, reinvigorated a policy of separating illegal refugee children from their parents. Regardless of your view of the Trump administration or your view of what constitutes a refugee*, the practice of having immigration officials literally tearing children from their parents and placing them in government holding cages and foster care is … oh, how about evil? And did I mention the system had already ‘lost’ 1,475 refugee children last year? Yeah, lost. Some runaways, some moved, some trafficked, all misused.

This is done with the tacit, silent approval of evangelical christians who continue to show mind-numbing support for the administration. There are some who continue to insist that the White House is dominantly Christian, both Catholic and Protestant. VP Mike Pence is openly evangelical. Power hungry political lemmings and morally-blind voters are allowing this to happen so they can cling to the idol of power.

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. – Proverbs 14:31

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. – Isaiah 1:17

Back in the ’80s, before he was known as a crusader for the poor and Red Letter Christian ( ),  Tony Campolo was a well respected ordained minister, author, sociology professor and speaker. He famously (infamously?) did a speaking tour in the early 2000s that typically opened with:

“I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”

So painfully true. The church often vacates loving care for others and replaces it with small-minded rules that allows it to pretend to be good. In the process we’ve allowed (paid) Caesar to take on the role of care-giver … except governments can’t love.

I discovered that irony as I journeyed with my now deceased wife through her cancer treatment. It was a tough disease, granted, and we had little hope, but I came to see that doctor’s offices and hospitals and the bureaucracy that operates them aren’t made to care for sick people, they’re made to process them and apply science to them. Yes, we have an amazing, funded health care system, but it’s more or less required to treat you so don’t ever pretend that it cares about you.

In the same way, politics is important in that it affects people through economy, safety, etc. but don’t lie to yourself by assuming it can fix the deep problems or help the truly needy in our society. And don’t expect Caesar is there to protect your personal beliefs.

Do Christians love?

As the provincial election looms close on our horizons, I’ve seen Christians (un-lovingly) debating/fighting over which political party or candidate is more moral or more supportive of christian values. You’re wasting your time. They won’t mix, shouldn’t mix, can’t mix.

Hey Christians, consider this – love gives importance to others. So if you find your way to the polls on Election Day do it as a service to your community and the needs of the unfortunate. More importantly, simply care for those in need who you come upon in your daily life.

All the time remembering, Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not.


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If you have time on your hands, here are some of the verses from the Bible that we can consider on this topic:

There need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. – Deuteronomy 15:4-5

If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. – Deuteronomy 15:7-8

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. – Proverbs 14:31

Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them. – Psalm 12:5

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. – Isaiah 1:17

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches? – Isaiah 10:1-3

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. – Isaiah 58:6-11

Looking at his disciples, [Jesus] said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. – Luke 6:20-21

Then Jesus said to his host . . . When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. – Luke 14:14

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:17

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. – 1 Corinthians 10: 23-24


* My definition of a refugee is very similar to the dictionary’s. Anyone who is so economically or politically desperate that they are willing to give up all they know to leave their own country to travel thousands of miles to a foreign place.