Jesus and Politics
As you read this title, did your body tense? Did the hair start to stand up on the back of your neck? Did your heart start beating a little quicker? Please, take a deep breath. This is written to unite, not divide. I’m trying to work my way through this and I’d like some help.
I’ve avoided political discussion for quite a while because it is increasingly divisive and angry. It occurred to me that no one was being swayed to meet in the middle or to convert to the “other side”, but it was pushing folks deeper into a firm stance in opposing corners. I can’t see anything good in that.
The things I see and hear from supposed Jesus followers make my heart hurt. Remember WWJD? No way can I imagine Jesus participating or approving of any of it. Any of it.
By my reckoning, Jesus has never been a member of a political party. We can beat our chests and say things like, “Jesus would never be okay with _______.” But, either side can say that and be right. I’m lessening my grip on seeing politics in the light of absolutes.
If I look at how Jesus handled government, I can see that He gave it respect, but didn’t give it as much importance as He did hearts and Heaven. He asked us to love each other. He didn’t add any qualifiers like “…if they do what you think is right.”
Yes, we need to be discerning, no doubt, but discerning through a lens of love rather than judgment and righteous indignation. It’s all about our motives. Do we discern with a heart that seeks to reflect Jesus or to prove that we’re right? Let’s be honest. We rarely even consider Jesus.
Love others. Love yourself. Love Jesus.
Maybe you’ve read Matthew 5:43-48. Here’s the NIV translation: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Now give that same passage a whirl from The Message: “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
Ouch! I’ve got to admit that second reading of the same scriptures convicted me. I need to grow up and act like a subject of The King.
As a follower of Jesus, I probably shouldn’t promote hatred, even if I disapprove or disagree with something. If I’m trying to become more like Jesus, I’ll work on my heart and let Jesus work on others as He sees fit. Maybe if I pray for His will, I won’t be so quick to push my own. His way is probably better than mine.
In the past couple of years, I’ve had to make choice whether to loosen my grip and say something kind or to dig in and prove that I’m right, forever losing the opportunity to show the outrageous love Jesus truly has for us. When I stop and sincerely try to see others as Jesus sees them, it changes me. There’s no one He doesn’t love. No one. Yep, even that person that disagrees with us.
Let’s be kind to everyone we see today, giving them a little love and words of encouragement. We’re all doing the best we can, I figure. Let’s pray for our country, our churches and our homes. Love ‘em all and let God do the sorting. He’s better at it that we are.