Jesus Politics

Jesus Politics

Clearly a comparison between the political groups of Jesus’ day and ours is not perfect. I’m not trying to say Jesus was on the side of any group, or that any current political party is the party he would have been a part of. Quite the contrary, Jesus’ message ran counter to all the political groups he found himself surrounded by. Every one of them had their priorities wrong, and he made a lot of enemies by calling them out.

It is amazing how political the message of Jesus was. There was an element of eternal salvation to be sure, but this wasn’t picked up on until after the death and resurrection. The people who heard Jesus speaking, including his disciples, thought his message was primarily directed to the politics of his day. What was at the heart of this message? Justice, peace, and love.

Make no mistake about it, Jesus was crucified because he had gotten in too deep in the high stakes politics of his day. He made powerful enemies within the Sadducee and Pharisee parties because he was a serious challenge to the authority structure they had worked so hard to achieve. On the other hand, the Zealots thought he was going to lead the revolution, and, in a moment of eagerness, Judas (who belonged to this party) decides to give Jesus a little push to get the ball rolling. In betraying him to his political enemies, Judas thought Jesus would be forced to call the Zealots together, with the power of heaven, to bring Jerusalem into a golden age of power and military might. That’s not exactly how it turned out, but in the end he challenged the political assumptions of those around him, and prepared the way for living in a new reality that sought the purposes and values of heaven here on earth.

So why is it that the church’s focus today is primarily directed toward spiritual matters and seemingly unconcerned with politics and justice? Why do Christians seem to have dichotomized political and religious ideologies? How is it that one can speak of loving thy neighbor one moment and rounding up illegal aliens the next? How can one give a message about generosity and not include giving to the poor? We’ve allowed ourselves to separate the difficulties of Jesus’ message from the difficult realities we’re surrounded by; and in many instances, we’ve allowed our political leanings to trump the religious response his message calls us to. I think it’s time to think differently.

About Joseph

I live in Heber City, Utah with my wife and family. View all posts by Joseph

4 Comments to Jesus Politics

  1. You said, “How is it that one can speak of loving thy neighbor one moment and rounding up illegal aliens the next? How can one give a message about generosity and not include giving to the poor?”

    This is where political tension rests. From a more liberal perspective, our nation is seen as founded upon the alien and Scripture supports the care and hospitality shown toward aliens, so we should be more embracing of the plight of the alien and sojourner, since they are humans deserving of dignity. Then from a conservative stance, we are a nation of laws and order, and we want to welcome the alien, but through the channels of public safety and security; even God is a God of order and propriety.

    And for the poor… Look how much Jesus spoke of the poor… It’s biblical to give aid and compassion, so from a liberal position, government seems to be the ideal clearing-house for dispensing such alms. But, from a conservative position, especially in light of the foundational liberties intrinsic to our nation, a smaller government ensures greater individual liberties. Yet, the poor and disenfranchised still need to be cared for, but this is deemed an individual responsibility within our political spectrum.

    Which side’s right? Perhaps both/and… Both views make degrees of sense. How do we maintain the foundational elements of our sovereign liberty-driven nation, and at the same time remain welcoming and compassionate. It sounds like both political perspectives have socio-religious integrity, but the methodology of meeting biblical imperatives differ. Maybe a middle-ground approach is needed.

    • I agree, it’s difficult. I’m not trying to argue that Jesus had a political view that can align with any of ours, but that he spoke out strongly against laws and social structures that were unjust and inhumane.

      As for my perspective, we live by the law in this nation: my point would be that they can be changed. Also, perhaps more to the point, when does our faith trump national law? The first century Christians disobeyed the law to worship the Emperor, our faith demanded it. So if we have a national law that prevents us from acting like the Good Samaritan should we obey it? Or going deeper, perhaps our faith would compel us to address the laws and trade agreements between us and Mexico that have helped to create poverty, drug violence, and despair for our southern neighbor.

      My basic thought is that I think our faith compels more social responsibility than what some of our brothers and sisters in the libertarian and conservative camps would say.

  2. I am with you 100%… When a law is bad, it’s up to the people to change it. As for immigration, I am much more liberal than many conservatives on this issue. I agree with Benjamin Franklin when he says, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” The main reason to control the borders is to ensure our safety, from terrorists, drug runners, and other criminals. We need a Border Patrol, check points, and so forth. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t be more effective and focused on helping those who wish to become Americans get here. It is rather ridiculous the way we make people jump through hoops. We are a nation of immigrants, so we must welcome them as quickly and efficiently as we can, while still addressing security matters. The vast majority aren’t bad guys.

    As for addressing the poor…. I don’t have all the answers and there are more factors to blame than claiming big business as the problem as some do (surely they play a part). And, it’s not always a matter of law that has led to social stratification. But, Christians do have a responsibility to the poor and social compassion. I don’t think most conservatives feel differently, but rather they may see different methodology as a better exercise in meeting the needs of the poor, while trying to remain consistent with our foundational core as a country. I still hold to the possibility of retaining a democratic-republic, while at the same time reducing the gap between the poor and rich. I suppose trial and error in shaping our laws will be the necessary path for the solution, whatever that may be.

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