We’re in the middle of this every 4 year cycle of election season. Presidential candidates have gone a few rounds in debates, social media is ablaze with advocacy for particular candidates and more than enough disparaging of the opposition. For the next 12 months we’ll work hard to polarize our relationships, draw lines in the sand and prove our point. Yes, we’re Christians and we’re on the right or are we right? I never can get it right. I know we’ve got our fair and balanced unbiased news sources with Fox News, The Blaze, YoungCons, etc. Yes, we’re on the path to fight for our right to bear arms, to uphold the death penalty, to keep the rich from paying too many taxes, to clean up our cities through thoughtful gentrification, the deportation of undocumented families and to ensure social and legal rights are give to those like us.
These are just some of the many issues which Christians (right, left and middle) are advocating or debating from one side or another. Are these the issues we’re to be fighting? What questions should we be asking?
Would Jesus stand with us or against on these issues? Would he stand at all? These issues are all the things Jesus stood for aren’t they? Remember when he told Peter to grab his sword and defend him so he wouldn’t be hauled off to be crucified? Or do you remember when Jesus taught that taxes shouldn’t be paid to Cesar because the emperor was an imposing moron and didn’t deserve the money? Remember when Jesus taught to disparage leaders and mock differing views? Remember when Jesus avoided the marginalized and refused them dignity? Remember when he caught the woman in adultery and he helped stone her to death? Remember when he taught that Gentiles should be kept out of the faith? Remember when he taught that the Pharisees desire to see religious rule was the right and holy path? Remember when he taught retribution?
Wait, you don’t remember that either?
Ok, you’ve noticed I’ve not addressed conservative trump card. Abortion. Surely Jesus would adamantly fight against abortion. So, because of this issue alone Jesus would vote Republican, wouldn’t he? Done. Argument over. But is it? I don’t think Jesus would address abortion the same way we do. I do think he’d be against abortion, but I don’t know that he’d be pro legislation. I’m not certain. I look at how Jesus dealt with other issues in his time. Adultery was an act punishable by death in his day and Jesus disagreed with adultery. He taught against it in his preaching. In his action he showed love, gentleness, grace and out of that was able to speak to the woman caught in adultery and challenge those with stones in hand to consider their own issues before attacking someone else. I know it’s not the same, adultery is an act of volition by an adult where abortion is the termination of an innocent baby’s life. I’m not going to minimize that, they’re very different.
We’re so caught up in the fight we forget how Jesus went about his life and how he confronted issues of his day. Can we learn from him? Can we advocate the care of orphans and widows, homeless and hungry? Can we raise to the forefront the voices serving with love and care the individuals and families having gone through abortion, the children put up for adoption? There are so many wonderful people and organizations caring well for these individuals and families. How can we help them be heard? How can we advocate their cause with the effort in which we argue our politics?
I know, I know, Jesus has to be a Republican because so many American Christians are. Surely we can’t be wrong. I mean, Jesus supports our views, right? Jesus wants to protect us from being uncomfortable or actually persecuted (no Facebook/Instagram memes are not actual persecution nor is the exclusion of prayer in schools).
I’m not sure when, where or how we got all of this mixed up, but it’s no wonder a guy like Gandhi could say, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” This blog here attempts to disparage Gandhi for the quote and does so with such a fallacious argument that it’s difficult to believe. He argues that Jesus attacked the religious elite so he would have attacked Gandhi as well. Jesus went toe to toe with his own religion. He didn’t do a whole lot of attacking of other religions. So, maybe we could do some of the same. Let’s slow down battling the world around us and see if we can’t get ourselves into shape. Let’s tighten up our misguided views of Jesus, forgo this cultural Christianity and actually figure out who Jesus is, how he lived and what he stands for.
As I look back over my life I see far too many moments or seasons where Gandhi’s statement applies to me. He might have liked Christ, but he sure wouldn’t have liked me. (I can hear the argument already, “Why do you care what Gandhi would think of you? Doesn’t it matter more what Jesus thinks?) Look, I was a close minded jerk, ostracizing differing views and advocating my closed position. Jesus wouldn’t have been a fan either. If anything, this bumper sticker applied to me (and at times still applies). I grew up in a youth group, I went to Christian colleges and I graduated from seminary, and loyally voted party line Republican in every election in which I’ve been eligible, but it’s taken years to figure out that there’s a big difference between the Jesus of the bible and our cultural Christianity. I advocated what I knew and could be an ass about it, but I’m learning that I didn’t know Jesus all that well.
So, now, during this wild election season I’m trying to figure out who Jesus is, how he might vote and what issues would be important to him. And, honestly, it’s confusing because the Jesus of the bible doesn’t line up all that much with the political views of the vocal conservative right. What am I supposed to do with that? How do we incorporate Jesus into our approach to politics?
So, what if Jesus isn’t a Republican? What if he’s not Democrat either. What if he can’t be assigned to a political party at all? What do we do with that? And more importantly, HOW do we go about our lives and interactions with others with that in mind?