There’s a bit of debate about Jesus’ politics these days.
“Jesus would send all these right-wing pseudo-Christians straight to hell,” writes Jack Clark.
“I can prove Jesus was a Republican,” writes Darrin Yaeger.
Jesus changed everything, notes author John Ortberg in his new book Who Is This Man? “He is history’s most familiar figure. His impact on the world is immense and not a coincidence. And yet, Jesus did not brashly defend His movement in the spirit of a rising political leader.”
So, why have His followers become so politicized?
“Some of my church brothers and sisters were appalled when I showed up at home group sporting my Obama tee-shirt and parked my ‘Obama-mobile’ front-and-center in the parking lot (pretty much assuring that I’ll never be an elder …),” writes columnist Jeff Myers on behalf of a friend identified only as Bruce. “It’s almost as though they question the legitimacy of my faith because I don’t support the Republican viewpoint.”
“To be sure, Jesus might commend Democrats for their concern for the poor, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised, the outcasts — the very people He reached out to again and again during His life on this earth,” writes an unsigned editorialist for the Modesto Bee newspaper in California. “To be sure, Jesus might commend Republicans for their focus on personal accountability and responsibility – the very things He espoused over and over again during His ministry. To listen to many of the politicians and partisans on both the left and the right these days, He’s one of their own. They show up at His churches, they talk of His principles and they ask His blessing on their policies and programs.”
So who’s right?
Maybe a better case can be made from Christ’s own politics. After teaching in the countryside for three years, He returned to Jerusalem where He received a Triumphal Entry – with the entire city lining the streets, placing coats in front of his donkey, waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” They were convinced He was there to throw out the occupying Romans, restore the Kingdom of David and reign over them in Jewish majesty.
Instead, He explained that your and my brief time here on Earth is just a test. His real concern was that we accept His gift of grace and spend all eternity with Him in the presence of our loving, Almighty Father, who puts up with our perplexing human contradictions and continuous squabbles because He loves us.
The people of Jerusalem were infuriated by such a message. Within the week, they were shouting “Crucify Him, crucify Him” and the baffled Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, did just that – washing his hand of the whole matter and telling his fearful wife that he couldn’t figure out what these people wanted.
And so it is today. “It is clear that we American Christian Democrats are in a jam,” writes an unsigned blogger on the website Jesus Is a Liberal.
The same could be said of the American Christian Republicans.
“Jesus’ life is not an abstract subject to be debated by experts,” writes Ortberg. “It is an invitation. Do you know what Jesus said about anything? Try living accordingly. Take a stab at removing contempt from your life, and see how life runs. See how well you are able to do it. Try living as if there is a heavenly Father who cares for and listens to you. Try living ‘without worry’ one day at a time.”