Why Christians Should Consider Sanders
"WHY WOULD A CHRISTIAN VOTE FOR BERNIE?!"
I hear where you are coming from. You are disappointed that Ben Carson dropped out of the presidential race and you feel the other candidates are not “Spirit-led”, or do not represent Christian values. God uses you to sharpen my sword! Yes, Bernie Sanders doesn't seem religious at all, but he is a servant of justice. I experienced Carson as straining at the gnat (homosexuality) and swallowing the fly (mercy and social justice). I know little of Bernie’s religious views except that he seems to value honest spiritual journey and has respect for non-abusive world religions. I don't need a candidate to claim to being “Spirit- led." I have to watch their fruit, what of that I can see, and respond to what I believe the Spirit is prompting me to see and do.
As you know, we have plenty of candidates posing to represent a moral stance, but they seem to lack a strong sense of social justice or believe (as God obviously does) that if people care about each other, we can do great things…
There seems to be no candidate convincingly representing Christians by name in this election. Thus, my assessment of character is what I lean toward for guidance. The poetry in John's letters guides me:
“He who loves has God...”(1 John 4:16).
"Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God...if we love one another, God dwells deeply in us.." (1 John 4:7-12)
Bernie has compassion. He cares for orphans. He wants us all to have accessible healthcare, not just the rich. He thinks the wealthiest nation in the world should be characterized by its citizens sharing with each other, not the rich hoarding the fortune.
He has consistently worked for social justice since he was young. (I'm sure you have seen the images of him being carted off for demonstrating for social justice in the 60's.) This is love for neighbor. He has served our county for years, and does not take donations from super-pacs. Bernie Sanders is for the people, not the corporations.
"BUT HE'S A JEW !"
Paul's instructions given to us in Romans say:
“God sets right all who welcome his action and enter into it,” (Romans 3:30-31)
I interpreted this as pertaining to those who seek and do justice, mercy, and love... including "those who follow our religious system AND those who have never heard of it".
"...When outsiders who have never heard of God's law follow it more or less by instinct....there is something deep within them that echoes God's yes and no.....their response to God's yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision ...,” (Romans 2:14-16)
Only God knows and can judge our hearts. That's why we are told not to judge. I would never say a loving person does not know God... I would think of them as serving and pleasing God. God is known to do surprising things, like using un-credentialed poets (the prophets) to challenge the religious establishment and to orchestrate great reversals using unlikely candidates (like Moses).
“The least shall be greatest,” (Luke 9:48).
Even though the original passage focuses on a specific religious practice, the principle does not escape me:
"It’s not the cut of a knife that makes a Jew. You become a Jew by who you are. It's the mark of God on your heart...that makes a Jew. And recognition comes from God, not legalistic critics..,”(Romans 2: 28,29).
I suppose some of those who have abandoned traditional churches have done so because the churches do not celebrate the love of God. Maybe they do not find their practices helpful in a genuine spiritual walk. I understand that they will have difficulty seeing the qualities they look for in a mature Christian in any of the supposedly "Christian" candidates.
We are challenged to interpret the candidates lives and statements as reflective of their heart, which only God can know and judge, and we are to make a choice as to who reflects God's character of love and mercy and justice. It's an interesting challenge God has given us to navigate.
So far, for me, Bernie’s campaign for care of neighbors, sharing of resources, and concern for justice and mercy trump all the rest. I believe I should vote for God’s economics over the rest of the world’s “sophisticated” approach to economics.
“God’s foolishness is man’s wisdom,”( 1 Cor 1:25) .
He has shown us more than once how he uses "outsiders" to chastise us and to advocate for us...Nebuchadnezzar, who defeated and deported the Jews into exile, and the Persian emperors who sent the Jews back to their homeland...and supported the temple rebuilding efforts.... He is known to use Jews in unlikely places to save his people.
I know that Christians are best defined by “You will know them by their love”. And I, like the rest, know there will be great surprises when all is made clear! I'm sure we will all laugh together.
"For now, there are these three: Faith, Hope, and Love, and the greatest of these is LOVE," (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Hogan Pesaniello, MD