Photography by Matt Wyatt

The Zealot and The Tax Collector

Seven issues out of ten, I place myself in the category of evangelical republican voters. I will more than likely vote republican in this year’s election, but at this moment I am undecided. Actually, I’m not just undecided; I’m perplexed.

Many evangelicals have placed their vote (and maybe their hope) in Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, the two lead contenders and loudest voices in the running. By now, I would have thought that Trump would have shot himself in the foot with some of the horribly insensitive and degrading things he says. Instead, it is these controversial words that are met with roaring ovation and die-hard allegiance.

Trump claims to be an evangelical and many evangelicals claim to be for him. Don’t get me wrong, some of the issues he brings up genuinely need a better solution, but it is his rhetoric and the rhetoric of some of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that disturbs me.

It’s not just politics either. A quick glance at social media reveals platforms littered with sarcasm, hyperbole and passive aggressiveness. We have become an angry culture. We’re hurting. We hurt in our relationships, we hurt in our broken families, we hurt in selfish choices. Sin has caused us to hurt and our hurt is expressed in anger.

Yet, as much of a reality as it is, we cannot allow anger to be the basis by which we vote this year. The Bible affirms we will get angry at times, but it warns us about the decisions we make in this mindset-“In your anger, do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26

Now, I’m not saying it would be a sin to vote for one candidate over another. What I am saying is that we need to understand the driving force behind the things we do; who we vote for, what we put on social media, the words we say, etc.

You see, if Christian evangelicals vote out of anger this year -instead of prayer-  then we are no better than zealots.

You remember the zealots, right?

The zealots were a group of Jews during the time of Jesus who rebelled against the Roman rule they were under. They rebelled through acts of violence. One of the things they were known to do is come up behind Roman soldiers and kill them with a curved blade. They hated their government and they let their anger get the best of them.

“But,” you say to me, “nobody is killing anyone.”

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.”

One of Jesus’ disciples, Simon (not Peter) was a zealot. He was likely a follower of Jesus because like many other zealots, he was hoping Jesus was a political revolutionary who was going to overthrow the government.

When Jesus revealed that he was in fact the Messiah of love and compassion, many of the zealots turned a blind eye to his message and continued to rebel against Rome in anger. Yet, Simon seems to stick around. Not only does he stick around, but he manages to work alongside a government representative- Matthew the Tax Collector.

Simon is one of the more obscure disciples of Jesus, so I am filling in some of the blanks, but I have little doubt that his heart was changed by the love of Jesus. That’s what we need today. Not a political messiah (little m) to voice our anger, but a Messiah (big M) of love and compassion to heal it. He is the only one who can bridge the gap between the zealot and the tax collector.


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