It is always interesting to see politicians asked about their religious faith. Sometimes they will use it as a tool so that they gain popularity with a certain crowd, while others will keep it a little more close to the vest.
Watching an interview on CNN, my only thought was that the person in question, Gary Johnson (who I honestly don’t know much about, outside of him being a Libertarian), was embarrassed to admit he believes in God. How else would you describe the following statement?
“I have to admit to praying once in a while and, yes, I do believe in God.” –Gary Johnson (Source)
He has to “admit” to praying? As if there is some sort of charge against him for wanting to speak with his Creator? He said that he use to go to church, no longer does, and if there was anything he took away from Christianity “[it’s] do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
There has been a longstanding lie going around that this “golden rule” is the central message of the gospel. Not the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins but, rather, the social gospel. Isolate a text from the beatitudes and act as if this is the central message of the entire Bible. It is quite ridiculous. Now I am not going to hold Mr. Johnson to the same standard I would a Bible teacher, and I am not saying that he believes this is the central message, but it is the message that he got after attending church while growing up. Let us do our best to understand the true meaning of these commandments to “love thy neighbor” and “do unto others”. Here are Jesus’ words:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And He said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” –Matthew 22:36-40
While loving your neighbor and doing unto others are obviously important commandments (otherwise Jesus wouldn’t have said them), the only way we can actually put them into practice is by loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27). As Jesus said “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” There is a reason loving God with everything in you precedes loving your neighbor. Because the love that we have for God is going to cause us to have a love for our neighbor that is not there with the non-believer. As Jesus said:
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” –Luke 6:31-32
Even sinners have a love for their own. The love which God calls us to, in this context, is one that doesn’t make sense to the world. It isn’t a principal to be practiced by those who do not place their faith in Christ, it is a reality for those who have come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. There is a love that God bestows upon His people that is different than the unregenerate sinner. We are given a new heart, we are a new creation, we know the one true God. We should love differently. This is the true context of doing unto others. Doing this with a love different than the world.
Another statement by Gary Johnson that caught my attention was this one:
“I’m one of those that just — the [g]od that I speak to is not — doesn’t have a particular religion,”
–Gary Johnson (Source)
Notice that it is “the god” that Mr. Johnson speaks to, not the God of the Bible. While some may say that God doesn’t have a particular religion, He does have a redeemed people that are known as the Church. The body of Christ. The blood-bought believers from every nation, kindred and tongue who worship, love and adore Jesus Christ. Yes, you can make up whatever god you choose to believe in and it will typically look a lot like the man you look at in the mirror every morning. Or . . . we could continue to read in Luke chapter 6 and make sure it is Jesus who is our Lord!
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” –Luke 6:46-49