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Brandon Andress is the author of AND THEN THE END WILL COME! (April 2013) and Unearthed: How Discovering the Kingdom of God Will Transform the Church and Change the World (2010). He lives in Columbus, Indiana and writes for his popular blogs Brandon Andress and A Joyful Procession. Brandon earned his MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University and his BA in Psychology from Hanover College. He loves the outdoors, hiking, camping, and traveling. For more information visit: www.andthentheendwillcome.com

the politics of Jesus…

 

we have been in official presidential campaign mode for the last two years, and with little over a month to go before we elect a new president, I often wonder what Jesus would think about politics in the 21st century.

 

 one might think that an appropriate place to begin to find out what Jesus would think about politics in the 21st century would be to look at those who follow Jesus and who live in the 21st century.  but, if one was to look at those who claim to be followers of Jesus in the 21st century one may come to the confusing conclusion that Jesus was a liberal, a conservative, a Republican, or a Democrat.  this isn’t a joke, I searched on the Internet and it seems that Jesus was all of those things.  it is especially curious when those concepts didn’t exist in the day of Jesus, at least as we understand them today.  but…everyone is so serious about putting Jesus in his or her own category…as if by putting Jesus in a category it might make one feel better about how he or she has decided to define his or her own life.  as long as we get Jesus to validate what we already believe about the world and how we behave…we will never have to sacrifice and conform to what Jesus is really calling us to be and to do.

 

is it too provocative to say that Jesus would not have called himself a Republican or a Democrat, a conservative or a liberal?  some may be yelling, “Jesus would have wanted to stop abortions!”  others may be yelling,  “Jesus would want the poor to be taken care of!”  but again… we are so quick at trying to take parts of Jesus that validate who we are and the agendas we are trying to push that we don’t take the time to consider what Jesus is actually calling us to.

 

as far as I can tell…Jesus never tried to fulfill his mission politically.  he didn’t believe that morals or ethics should be legislated.  he didn’t try to overthrow the government and impose his way on the people.  he didn’t picket or rally his followers against the government.  he didn’t freak out when the government didn’t look or act “Christian” enough.  and I am sure he wasn’t upset if the Ten Commandments weren’t posted outside of Caesar’s palace…or if Caesar didn’t have social programs to feed the poor.

 

could it be that Jesus wasn’t trying to reform broken political systems, or even use a political system to save the world?  maybe Jesus was preaching about an alternative to the politics and governments of his day.  maybe the good news that he preached was good news because it didn’t depend on the current or future world order, but upon a Kingdom that could neither be seen nor destroyed because it reigns in the hearts of those who follow Jesus as Lord.  and maybe, just maybe, the people who heard this good news took it as good news because they could find joy, peace, love, and contentment no matter what the politics or governments of the day looked like or how they behaved.

 

so what would Jesus think about politics in the 21st century?  my guess is that he would be busy hanging out and offering hope to the prostitutes and tax collectors.  he would be breaking bread in someone’s home and blessing everyone who joins him.  he would be walking the streets telling stories about the Kingdom of God and inviting everyone to join him in this Kingdom of forgiveness and new life.  he might even say to his followers, “Let the Obama’s and McCain’s worry about the country, but as for you, join me in proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God!”  

   

 brandon

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23 Comments on “the politics of Jesus…”

  1. Michael September 21, 2008 at 3:34 am #

    Simply eloquent. Thanks for putting it in perspective. May we give flesh to these whispers of the alternative to being blinded by the quest for power.

  2. April C. September 21, 2008 at 11:26 pm #

    very well said. I still feel compelled to vote for who I think will represent the morals I believe in but I won’t let this political race steal my joy and my focus of what Jesus would have us to do!

  3. brandonandress September 21, 2008 at 11:33 pm #

    April C…

    thanks for the comment. you are right on. i wouldn’t suggest that a follower of Jesus not vote…or participate in the political process.

    peace…

    brandon

  4. Jon Thomas September 22, 2008 at 9:03 am #

    Well put…If the mission of Jesus was to to be political he would have answered yes to the devil’s proposal in the garden of Gethsemane. Either candidate in the U.S. race if given an easy way would take advantage of it; second hand information, dirty stuff dug up from their rival 20 yrs in the past or whatever. If it gains them a buffer in the polls they run with it. Jesus instead chose to be the bearer of our sins. He died so restoration chould be possible; the restoration of his relationship with mankind. He was and is restoring his kingdom and making 1 Peter 2:9 a reality. These U.S. candidates are talking change, but the change Jesus made possible is only possible through him. Voting this year is tough. I do not want to sound unpatriotic, but the more I learn about Christ the greater the battle roars in my heart to not watch the news and follow the race.

  5. Chris Williams September 22, 2008 at 10:22 am #

    Great take on the “politics” of Jesus. It is very notable that one of the areas in which satan chose to tempt Christ before he started his ministry after 40 days in the desert with no food was the to give him political control. Jesus clearly left this control to the Father at that place.

    SO many of Christ’s followers thought that Jesus was going to overthrow the Empire and establish Israel as a nation. Judas was wrong enouhg about this that he betrayed Christ to force him into political crosshairs.

    So how do Kingdom people do politics?

    I’m going to post a response.

  6. Charmin September 22, 2008 at 4:06 pm #

    Good blog. With the human race it seems wherever there is power and money then corruption soon follows. It’s hard not to become cynical regarding politics, however, our right to vote is something that our countrymen have fought and died to give us, as well as other freedoms we enjoy in this country. I believe we have to open our eyes and not allow ourselves to be manipulated by any political party who may feel they have the Christian vote because of specific certain issues. We should try to be informed and make the best decision we can based on the available information about the candidates and consider ALL the issues.
    I agree our joy will be much greater if we remember who truly holds our hope, and that is God and our Savior Jesus Christ. I don’t think Jesus would have gotten too worked up over the politics of the day. Governments and empires have come and gone and have taken with them only the illusion of power. But God Almighty holds the true power, yesterday, today and forever.

  7. ~Sarah September 23, 2008 at 9:22 am #

    While I totally agree with your post…what is your point when it comes to application for God’s people??? maybe I just misssed something…I did read this rather fast as my day is beginning umm…shall we say the opposite of asap? :-P Thank you for this perspective! It is refreshing. :-)

    ~Sarah

  8. brandonandress September 23, 2008 at 4:22 pm #

    sarah…

    thanks for your comment. since i have had many people ask what the application for God’s people (in regard to politics)…i may write a follow-up piece that discusses that. but until then..here are some questions to think about…and maybe some thoughts…

    1. why is it that political Christians are much more likely to defend/preserve a particular political party than to defend/preserve the way of Jesus? for instance…there are elements of each major political party that looks nothing like Jesus…yet we attack the other side as if it is not Christian. from a Kingdom perspective…God wants to preserve life. so…it doesn’t matter if it is by stopping abortions OR killing people in combat or war. if we view things from a Republican perspective…we need to support the war (even though Jesus would have us turn the other cheek, not resist evil, forgive 70×7, and love our neighbors AND our enemies). BUT…if we view things from a Democratic perspective…many times it means supporting a woman’s right to choose (abortion). Death is not part of God’s original plan for His good creation…but a result of sin. we should protect and preserve ALL life. if we choose parties and view life through those lenses…we limit the beautiful Kingdom perspective that exceeds all human standards, perspectives, stances, and persuasions.

    2. as far as application…if we are the Body of Christ in the world today…then why do we not act like it? not to be too cliche…but what would Jesus do and how would Jesus act? why do we always believe that the conventional way to respond to situations is by taking the conventional route? when Paul says that our battle is not against flesh and bone…but against the powers and principalities of evil…how do we fight that battle? with prayer and fasting….not through human convention. we have a mighty Holy Spirit that works on our behalf…but we many times resort to our own ways. we try to legislate morality on the masses…rather than by loving, praying, and serving those who need to be loved, prayed for, and served. evangelical Christians resort to using powerful influence to get Christianity in our government. Jesus never powered OVER people from the top as much as he got down on his knees to wash peoples feet. as Christians…we can only change HEARTS by loving and serving…not by lording over people through laws and power…that may change behavior BUT it doesn’t change people’s hearts. and that is what we are to do as Christians…be instrumental in changing people’s hearts.

    3. God is more interested in bringing His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven through His Kingdom people (that always look and act like Jesus)…than enriching a nation or prospering a nation. Jesus states that this Kingdom cannot be seen or destroyed b/c it lives in the hearts and minds of those who come to him. His Kingdom grows like a mustard seed…wildly and out control. it is like yeast in dough…expanding. it is like a treasure that is found in a field…and we sell everything to get it…b/c it is so beautiful. God has shown that even in the midst of the worst politically and governmentally…communist China…that His Kingdom grows and expands. in the last 30 years in China…the number of Christians have grown from 3 million to over 100 million!!! God can use any governmental and/or political situation to advance His Kingdom. we should care more about advancing His Kingdom than advancing any system in this world.

    peace…love…grace…

    brandon

  9. Joe Gilder October 9, 2008 at 8:57 pm #

    Wow. I’m glad I found your blog. What you’re saying is very true, but few are saying it. Thanks for your honesty.

  10. Ben October 10, 2008 at 5:07 pm #

    Thanks for your words. I found your blog through Joe, and I agree… it is a breath of fresh air among otherwise overheated air.

  11. seeking October 15, 2008 at 10:10 am #

    Brandon, your post and your reply to sarah had me in tears. Thank you.

  12. Paul October 15, 2008 at 10:45 am #

    I think the reason that many Christians align themselves with a particular party is pragmatism.

    While I certainly agree that neither party upholds the truths of the gospel particularly well, I am registered Republican because I have come to the conclusion that it is more important for me to be able to participate in the Republican primaries than the Democrat ones (besides the Democrats are fundamental liars since we don’t live in a democracy and we do live in a republic).

    Also while the desire would be to address all of the issues plaguing our world simultaneously, some issues are more grave than others. In our country, in our time, the single most important issue is abortion. Once we can overcome that discussing other issues will be much easier.

  13. brandonandress October 15, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    paul..

    i believe that you are right when you say that Christians align with a particular party because of pragmatism. i would say that is exactly the problem. becoming a disciple of Jesus and following his way is NOT pragmatic. in fact…it is unconventional and should not make sense to the wisdom of the world. you see…it doesn’t matter if either party “upholds the gospel” because God does not need them to. what God needs is for people who have died to their old ways and the ways of the world…and who have been made into a new creation by the working of the Holy Spirit…and for this people embrace their Kingdom identity and bring His Kingdom of earth as it currently is in heaven. i understand that the way some Christians translate that sometimes is by saying, “that is what we are doing by supporting the Republicans because they oppose abortion.” then how does a Christian Repulican reconcile killing our enemies in war? like i wrote to sarah in an ealier reply:

    “why is it that political Christians are much more likely to defend/preserve a particular political party than to defend/preserve the way of Jesus? for instance…there are elements of each major political party that looks nothing like Jesus…yet we attack the other side as if it is not Christian. from a Kingdom perspective…God wants to preserve life. so…it doesn’t matter if it is by stopping abortions OR killing people in combat or war. if we view things from a Republican perspective…we need to support the war (even though Jesus would have us turn the other cheek, not resist evil, forgive 70×7, and love our neighbors AND our enemies). BUT…if we view things from a Democratic perspective…many times it means supporting a woman’s right to choose (abortion). Death is not part of God’s original plan for His good creation…but a result of sin. we should protect and preserve ALL life. if we choose parties and view life through those lenses…we limit the beautiful Kingdom perspective that exceeds all human standards, perspectives, stances, and persuasions.”

    when i say that i support life…so i oppose abortion…people want to call me a “conservative” or “Republican.” and when i say that i support life…by opposing the killing of our enemies in war…people call me “liberal” or a “Democrat.” and these are Christians who try to label! we have to quit identifying ourselves and our morality with groups, political parties, etc. we are a KINGDOM…and our Lord is Jesus Christ! nothing more…nothing less. it is not conventional…or pragmatic. it is a new reality that confounds the wisdom of the world and of this age. it is the only way to hope, peace, and life.

    thanks for your comments!!! what a great and encouraging way to press all of us on this journey with Christ.

    brandon

  14. Sherri Edman October 15, 2008 at 7:12 pm #

    Interesting. Of late I have been telling anyone who will listen that the question “Who would Jesus vote for?” is silly and wrong-headed.

    Because the King does not vote.

    I like how N.T. Wright puts it– that the whole point of Paul’s proclamations in the New Testament was to say that Jesus is Lord of the world and Caesar isn’t.

  15. amanda October 15, 2008 at 10:35 pm #

    wonderful. i’m going to link this from my blog

  16. Danny Gabbard, Sr. November 6, 2008 at 7:37 am #

    The basic problem with your thesis is that it is a “false analogy”….i.e., the “politics of Jesus” vs. “mondern politics.” Jesus lived in a dictatorship…i.e., Rome. We live in a Democracy. We have unbelievable freedoms that most in history never knew….and many today…still do not know. We have the wonderful privilege of being able to “have our say” and even work towards the fulfilment of our views. This does not go without biblical precedent. Simply take note of how many times in the book of Acts the Apostle Paul took advantage of the “political process” via his Roman citizenship to get himself out of a tight situation and/or to gain a hearing for the preaching of the gospel. I view things much differently. I see much of what has happened in the crumbling of our culture as the result of a weak church that has created a false dicotomy between “the kingdom of this world” and “spiritual things.” I believe a country that has granted such unprecedented historical freedoms to the church, which allow it to pursue the building of the Kingdom without restraint….is a a government worthy fighting for. If we deteriorate into a dictatorship via an individual or the government, may it not be because Christians did not at least fight while they had the opportunity…as opposed to just giving up. For more on my thougts….please visit my blog.

  17. brandonandress November 7, 2008 at 12:10 pm #

    danny…thanks for your comment! i would like to share some additional thoughts around politics (some of which i have stated above and some of which i have shared in other messages…but this is the first time i have pooled them all together in one form)…so here goes.

    specific to my political writings, let me share some of my sentiments. i definitely am not in the business of trying to change anyones mind, including yours. you are Spirit-led and very educated…and i really respect both. i do believe that God has given us governments (some good, some bad, some a little of both) and God can use either for His Kingdom purposes. i believe, as Jesus instructs, to give to “Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s.” i believe that we ought to pray for our leaders, as Timothy says. i believe that it is good and appropriate for followers of Jesus to participate in civil service (as long as it looks like Jesus in everything they do)…and that we ought to participate in the civil process (again…as long as we look, act, and behave like Jesus). i completely agree with your statement around Paul using his Roman citizenship for the testimony and advancement of the Kingdom message, and i am reminded of the Apology of Justin Martyr when he made his case that Christians ought to be viewed by the Roman government as good citizens that hold the highest morals.

    where i begin seeing a problem with contemporary Christianity and its relationship with government…is when it begins looking, acting, and behaving in ways that don’t look like Jesus. if we are the Body of Christ in the world, ought we not look and act like it…even when it is difficult or even when it is not politically correct, or even if it means that we lose the battle? ought we not stand up for life in any and all situations (abortion and war)? are we not the first fruits of new creation? bringers of peace and reconciliation? bearers of a new convenant? those who do not fight against flesh and bone…but against the powers and principalities of evil (through prayer and fasting)? i am more interested in a person learning to follow the way of Jesus and taking on his yoke…than trying to convince someone to be a conservative or a liberal. i want conservatives and liberals to die to the old ways, nail their sins to the cross, and follow the way of Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit. we have to be open to the idea that both political conservatives and political liberals can be followers of Jesus…does that mean that i necessarily agree with either…no…just that i trust Jesus to transform all of us sinners into his likeness. and it may take some of use longer than others….and i am ok with that.

    i am not sure that i necessarily agree with your assertion of the “false analogy.” now, i will say that you are a lot more educated than i, so i completely respect your position, and agree that Jesus lived in the most (i believe) oppressive dictatorship in history, and we certainly don’t. but just because there were cultural, governmental, or political differences between the Roman Empire and the United States, do you think that Jesus would be anything less than consistent in who he was, what he was trying to do, and how he would do it? if in the United States, would Jesus be obsessed with candidates, elections, and policy? honestly…i don’t know, but i would think that the smear campaigns, large sums of campaign cash, and half truths would make him sad. that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that he would be happy about in the United States, but he would really be sad by our consumerist obsession, our individual greed, our passe’ attitude toward life, our retaliation in war, our shallowness and love for the flesh, etc. but i am still not sure that Jesus would be interested in reforming our governmental system or putting his faith and trust in candidates…as much as giving people an alternative to the kingdoms of this world.

    here is the thing…i do love the United States. i believe that it has done great things and will continue to do great things…because it is the people and the people are great, hard-working, and sincere in this country. but we know from scripture that Satan is the god of this age and of the Kingdoms of the world (ephesians 2:2, luke 4:5-6, john 12:31, colossians 1:13, 1 john 5:19, 2 corinthians 4:4). we know that every Kingdom that has ever existed has been prone to war and corruption, and sadly, it happens even when Christians have good intentions and get in power. we are all still human and the systems that we are a part of will always turn from God. this is not a defeatist attitude…it is a realistic attitude. we know that Satan is working overtime to pull all the Kingdoms of the world together under his authority. God, through Jesus, initiated His Kingdom (Reign) in the hearts and minds of His children and that Kingdom can not be seen or destroyed.

    Jesus breaks into our time/space history and begins establishing the Kingdom of God. that is why he talked about is so much. why did Jesus come to earth? he says in luke 4:43 that the reason he came was to “preach the Kingdom of God.” to announce that a new order has come…that there is freedom… liberation… hope… love…etc. he spent his time talking to people in parables helping them understand what the Kingdom of God looks like. it looks like a mustard seed..growing wildly and out of control. it looks like yeast in dough…growing and expanding. it looks like treasure in a field..beautiful and what we long to have. it looks like turning the other cheek, not resisting evil, going the extra mile, giving your shirt and jacket, loving your neighbor AND enemy, etc.). the Kingdom of God has broken into history to destroy the works of Satan and to reclaim what is rightfully God’s (the account of the Strong Man that Jesus talks about in Matthew). we, as his children, pillage and plunder by taking back what is God’s. we are bringers of heaven on earth (your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven), we are the firstfruits of new creation. we are the embodiment of the new covenant. we are ministers of reconciliation (restoration). we are the body of Christ in the world. AND if all of that is true…we look, act, behave like Jesus in any and all situations…and work to expand this new order of His Kingdom right now. we begin living in the present as we will in the future.

    things are going to get bad (and are getting bad) in this world…and people will be looking for an alternative to the politics and corruption in the Kingdom of the world. the Kingdom that we have to offer is one that gives life to the fullest, that gives us peace and let’s us be content in any and all situations, that lets us love our friends and enemies to the point of death, that offers forgiveness and healing, and that unites us in Spirit and Truth.

    so…at this time in history…are we good citizens…yes! ought we vote and obey our leaders in government (as long as it doesn’t compromise our Kingdom lives)…yes! should we give to the government what is the governments and to God what is God’s…absolutely. is it ok for followers of Jesus to participate in politics…of course…as long as it looks like Jesus. BUT our main responsibility is to the Kingdom of God. preparing ourselves for the great wedding between the bride and the bridegroom. preparing this place for his entry. where he can be welcomed as Lord…and we will be his Kingdom people, and where peace, justice, and mercy will reign.

    revelation 11:15 says that, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. He will rule for ever and ever” christ will once and for all make all things new again. no longer will death have a sting. He will wipe away every tear from every eye. the lion will lie with the lamb. God will be with man…and we will be His people.

    that is what we work for…that is what we hope for. my hope is not in the kingdoms of this world…but in the continually inbreaking Kingdom of God. we patiently and eagerly await the consummation of all things. until then…we fight with prayer and fasting…we love self-sacrificially…we are controlled by a mighty Holy Spirit…and we become the ONE body of Christ in the world together.

    peace…love…grace…

    brandon

    • Efrain October 18, 2012 at 10:50 am #

      Great Post, i needed that

  18. marie2020 February 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    Angie- apologies, I hadn’t read past your first post until after I’d posted my comment, I didn’t realize you and Brandon had an ongoing discourse. Apologies to you as well Brandon for commenting without having read all the comments, prior to my post.

    Now for my real comment. Thank you for such a wonderful blog. I have been struggling with the state of our nation and all it’s problems and the numerous ways it has been negatively affecting my family and many I know. And the ignorance of our countryman is infuriating, but that is of no consequence. I felt a sense of peace after reading your piece, it helped me realize that my focus needs to be on Jesus and the promises in The Bible. Thanks again.

  19. donmcpherson8 March 28, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    Thank you Brandon. I’m thankful you came in contact with me through your blog. “Putting first His Kingdom” is so easy to quote and difficult to live especailly if one’s perspective of Kingdom of God is different from our King. I believe the “people in power” during His physical sojourn on earth basically killed Jesus for political reasons because “they didn’t know what they were doing” and didn’t have a clue about what His Kingdom was or didn’t believe Him when He said it wasn’t of this world or maybe they didn’t care.
    I am amazed today when some of my relatives and friends who profess to be followers of King Jesus say things like: “I wish our President was dead” or even refuse to pray for Mr. Obama. I suspect that I oversimplify the whole issue in my blog when I ask questions about in what Kingdom does one have ciitiseship: God’s or Satan’s? Yet Jesus clearly said we have two choices–one or the other–and not a combination of both. We either serve King Jesus or that other king who is the enemy God and king of his kingdom of darkness. Jesus doesn’t seem to me to be apolitical as much as His “politics” have a spiritual basis of mercifully serving His subjects who accept Him as King and asking us to do the same.

    Don

    • brandonandress March 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      thank you so much Don. your comment absolutely hits the nail on the head. I only pray that more will come to see it that way as well. have a great resurrection weekend!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How Kingdom People Do Politics « Cwillz Spills - September 22, 2008

    […] friend recently posted on the politics of Jesus. It was so good that I want to respond.  Earlier this year I posted about how humbling ourselves […]

  2. the politics of Jesus (part 2)… « outside the walls… - October 16, 2008

    […] (part 2)… there has been a firestorm of activity from a previous post entitled the politics of Jesus.  through a lot of conversation and comments…here are some additional thoughts not included […]

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