Some hardcore fans might remember the relatively modern source from which title was derived. As a lifelong fan of the Yautja before I even knew that word to be the native name of the Predator race, I was disappointed in how the writers tried to appeal to fans of both my favored side as well as the Xenomorph. The Predator known as “Scar” manages to defeat the Xenomorph Queen with the help of Alexa (Sanaa Lathan), though not without suffering a mortal wound. The film ends with a chestbuster emerging from Scar’s body on a Predator ship, suggesting a sort of stalemate, setting the stage for a future battle.
This Tuesday, November 8, 2016, there will be no such appeasement. There will be no arguments concerning if one side won or not; we will elect a new president of the United States of America. Now, I pride myself in avoiding hyperbole, yet in my short thirty-three years on this planet, I do not believe that the combined volatility of Clinton v Bush, Clinton v Dole, Bush v Gore, Bush v Kerry, Obama v McCain, and Obama v Romney elections could match that which Clinton v Trump has generated. Just look on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, where people have entrenched themselves in their echo chambers while bombarding dissenting opinions with vitriol. As Christians however, we must remember to not get caught up in the void of indecency as Romans 12:2 (ESV) instructs, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Surely, division is not God’s will! At the same time, I do not want believers to walk away thinking that the Bible says that we should resist conformity to an extreme that completely disengages from politics in an effort to avoid conflict. On the contrary, our Savior demonstrates the exact opposite in Matthew 22: 15-22 (ESV):
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Here, Jesus could have simply replied that he is above such fruitlessness, refused to answer, or even flee. After all, the Pharisees, who are all about the dominion of God, were trying to trick Jesus into saying that one should honor Caesar rather than God; the Herodians, who are all about the rule of Rome, were looking to see that Jesus align with God, which would be treason against the emperor. Instead, he performs an object lesson, providing direct answer so profound it that dumbfounds two of the most learned sects that one could possibly encounter in the Jewish kingdom. He does not demonstrate apathy or fear of conflict; he addresses it directly by engaging the world in which he lives in while also maintaining a focus on the Kingdom, refusing to maintain an “either or” position.
Some may say that this is a verse that corroborates the “separation of church and state” oversimplification of the 1st Amendment, but I believe that Jesus suggests something more complex than that idiom by avoiding the austerity of “it is this thing, not the other.” After all, Daniel 4:32 says that “the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” So, if the Lord appoints our rulers, is the church—the body of Christ—really separated from government, especially if we are praying for our leaders as we have been instructed rather than admonishing them? Additionally, no matter who sits in the Oval Office, Jesus sits on his throne on the right hand of God, so I urge my brothers and sisters in Christ to not do things like write in Jesus’s name on the ballot—not only is the presidency a tremendous downgrade from where he is, but the book of Revelation also demonstrates that when he does return, it will be majestic, but not nearly as prosaic as an inauguration, but chaotic! As long as the Body of Christ exists, the “division between the church and state is an illusion, and Jesus recognizes this.
A coupling scripture with Romans 12:2 is John 17:14-19, where many Christians derive the phrase that “we are in this world, but not of it.” Again, I challenge this line of thinking that scripture does not urge us to disassociate with the world, but to engage it for the benefit of the lost, as we are to be the light (Matthew 5:14) to illuminate not only our own paths, but theirs too. After all, the Greatest Commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39, ESV). If this commandment stopped at loving God, then it would be permissible for we as Christians to look upon our neighbors with the kind of contempt that some of us already do, claiming that some people deserve the situation that they are in because of their choices and behaviors. Yet if we are to treat others as we would treat ourselves (the question of if one loves themselves is addressed in Ephesians 5:29 for if we feed, cloth, and bathe our bodies, then surely we do love ourselves; this is not dismissive of harmful habits such as cutting, purging, or addition, where one is beset by a deep spiritual issues that Christ can heal), then we should be merciful as our father has been merciful to us in light of our transgressions, because ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 ESV). This includes those reading this, myself, and our presidential candidates of choice. If the Bible says that not one person is righteous (Romans 3:10 ESV) it is well past time for us to cease in our vilification of one candidate in our efforts to redeem the other. Redemption, or more specifically, salvation, is our power.
Again, remember that in his confrontation with the Pharisees and Herodians, Jesus refutes political primacy. We must do the same by placing God’s Kingdom before our country. I have seen some people on my Facebook feed mention passing out miniature Constitutions to passersby. Would not a Bible be more meaningful? Our government, our laws exist because due to our own depravity and failure to “keep [Christs] word” (John 14:23, ESV). The fact of the matter is, we must remember these teachings in the Word because If Donald Trump Wins, we are still Christians, and Christ is Lord of all; if Hillary Clinton wins, we are still Christians, and Jesus Christ is Lord of all!