IT’S A NOVEL WITH A MESSAGE: OUR UNITY IS IN CHRIST; NOT THE BALLOT BOX.
This Sunday marks the Sunday before we are forty days out from our Presidential campaign. It’s been a long run and Issy and I are tired, but we will continue to run to the feet of Jesus, for that is where we get our daily direction, especially when we are exhausted.
I’ve wanted to complain a lot about the lack of cuddle-time, but I decided I would plan for us to go on Holiday as soon after the election as our winning candidate will let us go.
Harold has grown a brand-new attitude about elections since he found a 1656 Voter’s Guide[i] and rewrote it for our church. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I gave the same document to my candidate months ago. I don’t care; he and I are back together as good buds.
I have always loved the story of Blind Bartimaeus, so I read as Issy and I drank our coffee: “Then they came to Jericho. . .”[ii]
March A.D. 30, Blind Bartimaeus
What was Jesus doing? We had been keeping quiet, fairly quiet, anyway. We had done a good job staying out of sight of the Pharisees, but now, as we were leaving Old Jericho and entering into New Jericho, the crowd and the activity was growing. We were surely easy to see.
I know these crazy Pharisees, if they get the chance they’ll take Jesus right now and I won’t get my silver coins for turning Jesus over to them.
And the people? They’re driving me crazy. They yell and scream. I quiet them down and then they yell and scream again.
As we were walking, I saw this one guy, the son of Timaeus,[iii] sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowds going by, he asked what was going on.[iv]
I stopped and stood back, watching him closely, for I feared he’d cause trouble. He looked like he could be a real loudmouth. And I was right. As soon as he heard who was walking by, he went crazy calling out for Jesus.[v]
I was right on top of it though. I wanted us to get out of there as quickly as we could. I was hungry and if we slowed down there in Jericho our meal would be delayed all the more.
I came alongside him quickly and rebuked him as strongly as I could, telling him to be quiet.[vi] But then he just started to yell all the louder.[vii]
And wouldn’t you know it, Jesus heard the man. He stopped and called him, ordering the loudmouth to be brought to him.[viii]
“Dinner was just delayed,” I thought to myself. But I also knew I had to do my part, so I leaned down to him and said, “Cheer up and get up; Jesus is calling for you.[ix]
And then the most amazing thing happened. The guy threw off his cloak, jumped up and went to Jesus.[x] But, he didn’t just get up slowly, like I would expect some blind guy to do. He jumped up. And then he threw off his cloak. “What a stupid thing to do,” I thought. “After all, there were sure to be thieving scoundrels in this crowd.” He was going to lose what was probably his only cloak.
And just when I thought I had seen it all, he ran to Jesus. Think about it! He ran to Jesus! The guy is blind! And he is running! Actually, he was not just running, he was tripping all over people to get to Jesus. If I wasn’t so hungry, I would have thought it was a funny scene.
But I wanted to eat.
Sunday September 23rd, Arlington VA
I finished reading and was smiling big when Issy, tired of waiting for me to say something looked at me. “Why are you grinning?” she asked.
I was grinning at the beautiful picture in my mind of blind Bartimaeus running, but then my thoughts changed and a tear came from my eye. I wiped it away but Issy noticed and leaned into me. “Baby,” I said quietly, “I don’t see people running to Jesus like that anymore.”
“I never thought about it like that, Jude. But you’re right; they run to our respective candidates like that, but not to Jesus.”
Two Weeks Later
The next couple of weeks were insanely busy, but the part I reveled in, was Harold. He and I had come a long way over the past few months and when he showed me his outline for the voters’ guide, which he had been tweaking, I was very proud of him. He even headed the booklet with a quote from the 1656 pastor, William Gurnall, which I know had to rankle him. . . “I will not endeavor to tell you for whom you should vote.”
His outline was:
- Why We Vote
- We Steward for God
- We Speak for God
- We Stand for God
- Who Should Get Your Vote
- First, Look for the Fear of God in Those you Choose
- Second, Look for Wisdom and Proper Gifts
- Third, Enquire Whether They are Christians
- Fourth, Look for Courage and Resoluteness
- Fifth, Find Purposeful Focus on the Nation’s Public Affairs
- Sixth, Choose Those Who Have Healing Spirits
- Seventh, Look for a Desire to Serve
- Finally, Find Those Faithful to Ministers and the Ministry of the Gospel
- What Occurs After We Vote
- We Pray for God’s Chosen Leader
- We Pray Without Sin Being an Obstruction to our Prayer Life
- We Do Not Worry, For God is in Control
A few months earlier, Harold had seemed to me like Judas, betraying me for the politics he preferred. I would never tell Harold this, but when I saw this wonderful work he put together, I confess I thought of the New Testament passage which says, “When Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse. . .”[xi]
Harold was remorseful and our relationship was blossoming, full and strong. Our schedules finally allowed us to attend a small group meeting and the question of our relationship challenges came up. I think he handled it brilliantly.
Issy and I sat there and listened as Harold said, “If you think I’m less passionate about my politics, you’re crazy.” To which his wife G.W. shook her head and said, “Amen.”
Harold smiled and then looked at me and said, “And I don’t expect my friend to be less passionate either. But when our passion for our politics puts even the slightest wedge in our relationship, the passion is wrong, even though one of us might be right.” He paused ever so slightly and then added, “Of course I’m the one who’s right.”
We all laughed and then he said, “This election is important, and I think they get more and more important with each subsequent election. Just like Issy and Jude work hard for their candidate, I don’t see anything wrong in us working hard for our candidate, if we believe God is calling us to do so. Just do not make the same mistake I made. I let my politics be more important than unity in Christ.”
“Why did you do that, Harold?” someone asked.
There was a long silence, broken by a humbled man saying, “I refused to trust God to do what He wants to do, the raising up and putting down of a nation’s leaders.”[xii]
After another long pause he spoke with a cracking voice, “If God loves me, I can trust Him.”
“Do you have anything to add,” Harold asked me.
“Just one thing,” and I stood up, turning to everyone in the room. “You all heard Harold say he will still like me after November 7th, right?”
Issy shook her head and Harold and I hugged, but it wasn’t a typical man-hug. We stayed clenched for a while.
When everyone started to clap, we unclenched.
“Love you, man.” I told him.
“Love you too, Jude.”
[i] The actual full sermon, from 1656, rewritten into modern English is in the appendix of this book and is available at https://MarkMirza.com/Politics
[ii] Mark 10:46a
[iii] Mark 10:46m
[iv] Luke 18:35b-36
[v] Mark 10:47
[vi] Luke 18:39a
[vii] Matthew 20:31b
[viii] Luke 18:40
[ix] Mark 10:49b
[x] Mark 10:50
[xi] Matthew 27:3a
[xii] Psalm 75:7, Daniel 2:21