Current Events Monday: Protons and Prop A

James Hassell   -  

Have you heard the passionate and sometimes heated debate over Prop A? If not, then you may want to check out this news article before reading further.

Click link to see article: Texas early voting begins Monday: Austin’s polarizing ‘Prop A’ is on the ballot | KXAN Austin

It certainly looks as though people are fired up about this issue and get a chance to head to the polls starting today. This blog purposefully does not take sides on these kinds of things as our church gladly is “one body composed of many parts.” Our redeemer is Christ and not politics, so we welcome those of varying backgrounds and opinions. We would however rather use an issue like Prop A to engage with some of the deeper level issues in our lives. In other words, what does something like Prop A look like from the 50,000 foot level rather than from the red-faced crop dusting level? Is God interrupting us to point us to more significant issues than simply what button to press in a voting booth?

When you get up high enough, it may become clearer that we cannot vote ourselves into a heaven-on-earth type of existence. In fact, we often receive a large number of facts about different sides of debates on polarizing issues, but there is no real congealing of those facts to any significantly meaningful whole. That is, most of our facts and news nowadays seem to be knowledge without any wisdom—an “either/or.” On Prop A, for instance, we’re told that you can be only either for or against police. But maybe there’s something more to it than that. We’re also told from certain groups that right and wrong is very fuzzy and relative when it comes to Austin issues today. Our question however is: “Relative to what?” Make no mistake, everyone has some absolute or standard of reference that they utilize in decision making. There are no purely detached, objective thinkers out there no matter how hard they try to escape the surly bonds of their humanity.

Which leads us to Christ’s significant teaching in Matthew 6:33 when he encouraged us to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” How does that teaching relate to something like Prop A? Jesus gives us here a firm foundation around which we can the boards of our knowledge, facts, and debate into a solid structure. When one seeks first the Kingdom, then that person is putting the priorities of God, as exemplified and personified by Christ, at the center of value for his/her life. In fact, the Greek word for “first” is proton, referring to one of the foundational building blocks of life—meaning that our starting point for life is neither what a politician says nor what facts we cherry pick for our side of things. God and his rule over and through us come first.

Consider a great example from Matthew 22 which records a considerably awkward and tense conversation between Jesus and some Pharisees about taxes—an issue as divisive then as it is still today. The Pharisees ratcheted up the debate by insinuating that paying taxes was idolatrous. Instead of lambasting the Pharisees with a sharp soliloquy, Jesus avoided taking human sides and opted for seeking first the Kingdom of God. He would not reduce the question of taxes to a simple “either/or” but instead fulfilled the law by advocating not only for paying what is due to Caesar in this temporal earthly kingdom but also making it clear that God owns all the money anyway. His Kingdom takes precedence over all else, no matter whose picture is imprinted on the coinage.

How may we seek first God’s Kingdom in these argumentative and divisive times?