the politics of Jesus (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 in the first post.

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?  let’s be honest…there are elements of each major political party that looks nothing like Jesus…yet we attack the other side as if our side is the Christian side. for example…from a Kingdom perspective…God wants to preserve life. so…it doesn’t matter if it is by stopping abortions OR by ending the killing of people in combat or war. if we view things from a Republican perspective…we ought 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 completely miss 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 or human wisdom. we have a mighty Holy Spirit that works on our behalf…but we many times resort to our own ways. we, as Christians, want and 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 the HEARTS of our friends AND enemies 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 because 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…because it is so beautiful and transformative. God has shown us in the 21st century 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.

i admit…that a Kingdom view and approach to life is unconventional and not very pragmatic.  but that was the way of Jesus when he walked this earth…it was unconventional and did not make sense to the wisdom of the world and the competing philosophies of his day.   ideas like loving your enemies, turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, giving your jacket and your shirt has NEVER made sense from a human perspective…but coming from a God that is restoring all things back to Himself…it makes perfect sense…BUT WE DON’T BELIEVE IT IN THE CHURCH.  we put our hope and faith in people and systems that continue to fail…while our appetite for the next leader or system is never satisfied.  the Kingdom of God and the gospel message is not dependent on these worldly systems (can God use them…of course) but 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 to their Kingdom identity and bring His Kingdom on earth as it currently is in heaven.

brandon

8 thoughts on “the politics of Jesus (part 2)…

  1. this kind of has to do with what you said but sort of not. just whats in my head right now.
    i’ve been struggling a lot with whether or not the government should be legislating morality. being here, in a place that basically has a socialist society/government, i really wish sometimes that they would legislate morality. like, prostitution is legal here and there are sooo many girls on the streets every weekend and you go down to the city and see 10, 11, 12 year old kids standing on corners drinking and smoking, and you walk by adult shops on every corner and “massage parlors” everywhere and see tons of ads for call girls and it makes you go, what in the world is going on here? why isn’t anyone doing anything about this? we’ve seen girls get their heads bashed in and people just stand around and watch. cops don’t stop kids from smoking and drinking. girls are treated like dogs. it’s just the whole idea of, “what’s good for you is good for you.” and being surrounded by this, it really makes me wonder how different things would be if the government would put a stop to it. but if you don’t have people with the right hearts and worldviews being in those positions will it ever change? won’t things continually digress? not to say that we should be like, electing pastors to be president cause they’re christians but just… i don’t know man. it’s such a struggle for me.

    cause i don’t want to be the one standing up saying, we deserve our right to worship freely! adam and eve not adam and steve! burn burn burn burn burn. cause that’s so dumb.

    but it’s just like, my heart is torn because i’ve been in places that are so, so flipping dead and it scares me to think how much more lost we’d be if we didn’t have the small thread of christianity that still runs through our country. it’s like, we can’t just give up on the government and be like, welp God will still reign and the kingdom will still be advanced even if america is a craphole. i think we need to be an active part of the way our country is run cause it’s like, a freakin privilege to be able to run for office and do whatever. i get really annoyed with a lot of the people here because they’re like, “yeah i don’t like either candidate so i’m not voting” and it’s like, ASDJKLF you’re never going to like either candidate ever! but it’s still your responsibility to be part of what is going on in your country!!!

    gnangnag. it’s tough.

    and i’m not saying we absolutely neeeed christian values and morals and stuff in our government and that we should take over the world with our bible as a law book cause i know God can work outside that. just throwing out what’s in my head right now.

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  2. Politics suck. I’ve been distantly keeping an eye on both campaigns for a long time. And, to be honest, I fall in to the category of not caring for either candidate. They both have flaws. But, we all do, and I’m no better than either one of them and they’re no better than I. Sure, they’re more qualified to run the country than I am. But as for who I think would be the best leader, I’m just not sure.

    I was talking to a friend I hadn’t seen in a while on Thursday at breakfast and we were talking politics (because that’s what friends do after you run out of other stuff to talk about) and I told him I was going to cast a write-in vote for Jesus. He chuckled, but I was serious. So… if I think Jesus should run the government, I guess what I really need to do is try hard to see which candidate I think would be more like Jesus than the other. That’s tough. I don’t know either one personally and I get all my political advice from negative adds…

    So, I guess I’ll have to take my own advice that I gave to my mom when I was in college. She said she wasn’t going to vote for either candidate because neither was pro-life (from an anti-abortion point of view). I argued that picking the ‘better’ candidate was better than not picking at all. I’m not sure I won the argument, but regardless, I guess I need to take the advice since I gave it…

    I think being a one-issue supporter is dangerous. If you vote for a candidate just because they are pro-life, you most likely are missing the much bigger (kingdom) picture. I’m trying very hard during this election to cast my vote for who would please God the most, not the one who would please God on one issue that might hit close to home for me.

    Maybe this reply was a bit more political than the original post. I’m sorry for that. But, with all that said, I still want to vote for Jesus. But I now have the task of trying to figure out which one will bring Jesus to not just Americans, but the whole world. …And that’s another thing I’ll save for another day…. why is it always all about us (Americans)? Isn’t the whole world in this thing together? It’s a big sandbox and I just wish we could all play nice.

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  3. kim…i agree with you wholeheartedly! but let me add this…while i believe that God has given us governments and while it would be incredible if they would all rule mercifully and justly like Jesus…the reality is (as you mentioned above)…they don’t…nor did the Roman government at the time of Jesus. but still…Jesus wasn’t so concerned about political overthrow or governmental reform as much as preaching the Kingdom of God and taking it to the people who needed it. and who were those people? they are the kind of people you mentioned in your comment above…the poor…the oppressed…the victimized…the neglected children. we have to pray for mercy and justice…but we also have to advance the Kingdom and proclaim the good news in the midst of the people who are crying out…as Jesus did. sometimes help never comes from the governments…but it always comes from Christ. thanks for your great comment…and we miss you!

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  4. The basic problem with your thesis is that it is a “false analogy”….i.e., the “politics of Jesus” vs. “modern 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 worth 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.

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  5. 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

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