Archive for October, 2012

October 1, 2012

Faith & Politics (October)

I remember being told by my pastor growing up, “You cannot fully understand Christianity in a comparative religion course.  You must study it alongside of competing political theories.”  This blew my mind and continues to challenge the way I understand my Lord.  From the appearance of man and woman in Genesis to the culmination of all things in Revelation, God seeks to establish humanity into a political order.  We often forget this because the world distracts us with idealistic promises of democracy or hope in one political candidate or true change from another political party.  But the Kingdom of God is our politics.

The Christian faith is fundamentally political because Jesus is fundamentally political.  The titles attributed to Jesus, like Christ and Lord, were technically political titles in the Jewish and Roman cultures of the first century.  The very name Jesus, meaning ‘salvation,’ gestures to the quintessential promise political figures then and now offer the citizenry.  Christ is our salvation, and he will reign as king.

Christ’s Kingdom is not from this world, yet it certainly is invading this world.  And when one political power enters the space of an incumbent political power, there will be waves!  It was true then; it is true now.  Great Christians like Martin Luther King Jr. and Oscar Romero who did not bifurcate their lives between earthly and heavenly politics made waves like Jesus and gave their lives for it.  They understood that the politics we practice on earth are the very politics of the Kingdom.

So often we Christians, in hopes of making a difference in current political discourse, are coopted into a political party or theory.  Instead of being a voice crying out in a lost world, we abdicate our voice to the political structures of that very world.  Where is the voice of the Church today?  Why have so many of us given such unquestioned loyalty to one candidate or another?  Where on Facebook are Christians praising and criticizing politics based on the standards of God’s Kingdom instead of defending one party and attacking the other based on allegiances other than Jesus?

There are Christians rising above a devotion to one political party.  There are even some who are calling others to return to the Political Jesus, proclaiming on social networks that #JesusIsMyCandidate.  The movement is an encouraging one, though too tame, too democratic.  In reality Jesus is no candidate, as if we would elect Jesus as our President in 2012, as if Jesus would want to be President of our nation (cf. John 6:15).  We do not elect Jesus; rather he elects us.  At his name, he elects all of humanity to bow the knee and confess Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  The question is, will we submit to that sort of kingdom?

We the Church must remember what it means to be the Church, a new social and political reality, embodying the best of what humanity can be in this world, pointing the way through a wilderness of broken political systems and broken political promises.  We can stand as a witness to the world, calling them to a new and supernatural politic, even guiding earthly kingdoms in this politic as long as they are willing to do it on Christ’s terms.  Cross before Crown.  Sacrifice before Splendor.  Giving up one’s life before the Glory of true political power.  Until then, we the Church stand as a voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord!”

Will you be that voice?

Pastor Rich