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!”