"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Jesus and Christian Involvement in 2020 Politics

Pilate and Jesus
Recently some sincere followers of Jesus have gone on social media and bemoaned the fact that Christians are seemingly more political than gospel oriented in 2020, as if the gospel of Jesus Christ and politics have nothing in common or should be completely separate. 

However, the idea that Christians should not be involved in politics or not vocal about politics is at best naïve and at worst anti-Christian.

Politics are at the core of the Good News message that Jesus Christ gave us.

Jesus was a controversial political figure in His day, and His followers should expect no less controversy in our day.

In fact, Jesus died as the result of a political execution. He died in the manner He did because the Roman government established death by means of crucifixion for everyone who rejected imperial Roman politics. 

Christians would do well to remember that the cross of Jesus was a Roman political cross, and that Jesus died on the cross because He was vocal in His politics.

Jesus led the common people of Israel to stop trusting in the Roman government and to start trusting in the Supreme God. As long as the Roman government ruled the people, the kingdom of God would never rule the world. 

Jesus repeatedly told his hearers  about “the coming of the kingdom of God.” This message of "kingdom" represented the theme of His ministry. That's important to remember because of the significance of the word "kingdom."

In the days of Jesus, "kingdom” was a political word. There was the kingdom of Herod in Israel, and the kingdom of Rome throughout the world, including in the nation of Israel where Herod served as Rome's vassal king of the Jews. Jesus told the people that the kingdom of God for the earth was far better than Roman or Herodian politics. 

Jesus prayed to the Father, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," in what we call The Lord's Prayer. The kingdom of God, according to Jesus, would be a far better political system than the kingdoms with which his hearers had been familiar. 

Jesus taught the people that politics mattered. 

Jesus called what matters the kingdom of God on earth. He could have called it the “family” of God. He could have used other words, like "gathering" or "community" or simply "the people of God." Instead, Jesus used the political word "kingdom." Using the kingdom of God as a description of what the world should become was a political statement by Jesus, a strike at the heart of Roman politics. 

In other words, Jesus was a political agitator in His day. 

Jesus taught that the kingdom of God would be a world of economic justice where everybody had the material basics for life's existence. The kingdom of God would bring the world into peace and nonviolence. Together, the political ideals of economic justice and world peace represented the twin icons of the kingdom of God on earth.

Jesus is our greatest example for why a Christian should be involved in politics and vocal about it. 

Jesus’ passion for God's kingdom among men created conflict with the Roman authorities. Jesus began his public ministry shortly after Roman authorities arrested John the Baptist (Mark 1:14).Throughout the gospel narratives of Jesus’ life, political conflict, disagreement with Roman authorities, and being labeled a political agitator dominate the Jesus story. 

Jesus entered Jerusalem the last week of His life on a donkey as "King" to symbolize that God's kingdom would bring peace and the abolition of war. During that last week of His life, Jesus cleansed the Temple and called it “a den of robbers” because the Temple had become the center of collaboration with Roman political rule and taxation (Matt 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46).

Jesus died at the hands of Roman and Jewish political authorities because Jesus had passion for a transformed world and He said "No!" to the political powers that would end up killing Him. 

Of course, that's not the end of the story.

Jesus rose from the dead, conquering sin and death, and one day the kingdom of God on earth will be fully realized.

Until that time, Christians should follow the example of Jesus and never be afraid to speak out against an oppressive government that breeds injustice, violence, and oppression.

So next time you're tempted to say "Christians should stay out of politics," my rebuttal is a gentle disagreement contained in the words, "If your goal is to be like Christ, you must be involved in politics to ensure a world of freedom, justice, and peace."

23 comments:

Victorious said...

Preach it Wade!!

I couldn't agree more! Thank you for correctly portraying Jesus as the Gospels do and our responsibility to follow His example!

Tana said...

Politics are a tool for us to use to love our neighbors well. We need to be involved with the goals of loving God and loving our neighbor...not for self-interest.

Christiane said...

"The World is my country;
all mankind are my brethren;
and to do good is my religion"

(Thomas Paine)

RB Kuter said...

Those advocating for a decadent, Godless, immoral society would of course want to keep the followers of Jesus Christ silent.

While positioning themselves as being the moral police, they strive to silence opposition through baseless accusations of the Jesus followers being racists, homophobic, close-minded, ignorant, uneducated, and in defiance of scientific reality. This has been effective in establishing what is deemed as being "politically correct" as defined by them.

It would not be appropriate for a pastor to campaign for one political candidate as opposed to another. In today's world, however, when a pastor encourages the congregation to be civilly responsible and vote and campaign for the candidate they believe would best represent those "Christian principles" in their anticipated administration of their political duties, it basically defines particular candidates.

More and more we see that those sincere, devoted followers of Jesus who are bold in their identifying themselves as such are ostracized and persecuted. Jesus warned us in this regard. The blood of those martyrs in the early church was certainly not shed because they were in harmony with the "politically correct" power player of their day.

Wade Burleson said...

Tana,

"We need to be involved with the goals of loving God and loving our neighbor...not for self-interest."

Agreed.

Christiane said...

words of a Lutheran Christian martyr:

"” We now know that we have been taken up and borne in the humanity of Jesus, and therefore that new nature we now enjoy means that we too must bear the sins and sorrows of others. The Incarnate Lord makes His followers the brothers and sisters of all humanity. The “philanthropy” of God (Titus 3:4) revealed in the Incarnation is the ground of Christian love toward all on earth that bear the name of human. The form of Christ Incarnate makes the Church into the Body of Christ. All the sorrows of humanity falls upon that form, and only through that form can they be borne. The earthly form of Christ is the form that died on the cross. The image of God is the image of Christ crucified. It is to this image that the life of the disciples must be conformed: in other words, they must be conformed to His death (Phil. 3:10; Rom. 6:4). The Christian life is a life of crucifixion.”

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Wade Burleson said...

Christiane,

As you know, Bonhoeffer joined the Abwher political movement, attempted to assassinate Hitler with a well-placed bomb, was arrested, imprisoned, and then executed by the German government just prior to the end of World War II.

Bonhoeffer was a great theologian with a social conscience.

Christiane said...

Hello WADE,
thank you for responding

I do know Bonhoeffer's story, through the writings of his biographer Bethge, and it is thought that 'in some 'ultimate' better world than this',
Bonhoeffer would not have resorted to violence to attempt to rid the land of a dictator who preyed on the innocent;
but because he lived in times that were challenging and because innocent people were suffering at the hands of a dictator,
Bonhoeffer chose what is called a 'penultimate' solution: and yes, he acted to bring about the greater good and willingly paid the price for his actions in martyrdom.

His ethics were in sync with his social conscience to the point where he saw the dictator as someone to be stopped before more harm could be done, and so he acted to that end. In his case, even the action to stop evil was not seen by the Church as 'sinful', though it would not have been chosen in some better world than Nazi Germany, no. He did what he could in the wretched times and circumstances of his own day to bring a halt to evil. It was, in the end, self-sacrificial, yes. And no one 'forced' him to act as he did. His action was a choice of conscience, yes.

I don't think in his case, it was a 'political' action because of the nature of the evil involved; I think he saw the truth of his country's plight under a malevolent dictator and sought to end the violence against Hitler's victims.

As to Our Lord Christ, I see Him as The Kyrios, the Lord of Creation, to whom every knee should bend on heaven and on earth,
not that people would be 'forced' to honor Him because of some political entity, but because they chose to do so freely out of love for Him.

The Good News?
The Kingdom of God is at hand.

And we cannot lose sight that it is a Kingdom that is NOT the same as an earthly political entity, so we cannot conflate the two 'countries', no:

"I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no questions, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there's ANOTHER COUNTRY, I've heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace."
(from a beloved Anglican hymn)

Dr. Amit Thomas said...

It is indeed true that there is an pinch of f politics in the life of Jesus. No doubt there was political upheaval during Jesus days and even he would have been one of the cause. But politics n different places differ places more or less differs. In Asian context politic now is more of criminalization and corruption. These two elements are prerequisite for being in politics. So you either oblige and be part of it or keep away from it. Even now church has also fallen into it. And these elements are rampant found in churches corridor.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

I read your last line to Judy, “If your goal is to be like Christ, you must be involved in politics to ensure a world of freedom, justice, and peace.”

I said, that means we’re voting for Trump, right?

“Sure, what other choice do we have?”

RB Kuter said...

Wade wrote, "Bonhoeffer joined the Abwher political movement, attempted to assassinate Hitler with a well-placed bomb"

Are there occasions when government can exercise such inhumane, exorbitantly evil acts as to justify followers of Jesus responding with acts of armed aggression to stop them?

If so, would it be justified for followers of Jesus to take up arms to forcibly shut down abortion clinics and those involved in extracting the body parts of millions of babies every year using violent acts to do so?

If not, how would anyone justify going to war against the armies of any dictator or militant aggressor bent on oppressing the freedoms of others?

CM said...

RB Kuter,

I would suggest you read up on Augustine on Just War Theory and also Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica. The fact the most brilliant Christian theologians in the history of the church wrestled with this over the centuries means that the answer is not easy by any means.

RB Kuter said...

I know you are right, CM. I certainly don't intend in becoming a sniper outside a clinic, but I have honestly struggled with what God would have me do to oppose the heinous slaughter that is taking place and is even being supported by our civil authorities. Vote, of course, with conviction over this as being THE highest point of qualifying any politician as being worthy of a vote. I write about it in opposition, but doubt that has a lot of persuasive power. I speak out against it at every opportunity. Other than those things, I continue to seek ways to campaign against the practice.

What astounds and confounds me, CM, is how others, especially those professing to be Christ followers, can EVER support a politician being in office who they know advocates the continued practice of tearing the bodies apart of innocent children by the millions! That seems to be the ultimate in spiritual blindness and, although thankfully I am not God so cannot assess the spiritual status of others, causes me to question if the Holy Spirit of God resides in their souls. How could He and those people continue to have any peace?

CM said...

RB Kuter,

In the 1st Century Roman Empire, infanticide was relatively common whereby newborns would be abandoned to die of exposure. So it is in this backdrop that Paul wrote his epistles and the passages regarding the role of the believer and the government. What was remarkable in the early church was the love Christians had for these children let to die and their adoption.

Something to think about.


Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Have you heard “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”? What do you think of this link?

https://nypost.com/2019/09/26/wherever-joe-biden-went-son-hunter-cashed-in/

Christiane said...

Hello REX RAY

I know the facts of the case to be that Biden represented the interests of the US and NATO against Russian interference in Ukraine politics.

Here is some background info:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump%E2%80%93Ukraine_scandal

REX RAY, Putin is NOT a 'friend' of the USA. No matter how much Trump bends his knee to Putin, that does not change the aggressive nature of Russia under Putin's rule.
Is it possible that Trump owes Putin for past favors or that Trump is 'compromat'?
I ask because Putin most sincerely wants to see NATO dissolved, and Trump, early on wanted to give Putin the wish of his heart. Why would Putin want to see the end of NATO? So that the aggression into the West by Russia might proceed unchallenged.

I think Biden was on a mission to challenge Putin's influence in Ukraine and that Biden represented our nation's and NATO's goals of challenging Putin to back off of Ukraine which had fought so hard against Russian aggression in the past.

Biden's son? He is not running for president, thank God. :)
Biden's other son, Beau Biden, was a fine American soldier and public servant. His tragic illness and death was the reason Biden did not run in '16.

Trump? too much with the Russians . . . way too much
maybe you understand the reason better than I do. (?)

Hope you are well. Stay safe. These are strange days and we need to take precautions against this virus, no matter the 'it's a hoax' publicity. Almost 200,000 Americans have died so far from covid-19 and those were difficult, painful deaths. It didn't have to happen this way. So very sad but hopeful of change coming soon.
You and Judy stay safe.

Christiane said...

REX RAY

the New York Post? :)

please !

CM said...

Rex Ray,

Of course for those hoping to find more stuff on Hunter Biden and Joe Biden (Like Giullani and Sen. Ron Johnson), it seems that one the guys they were tight with on getting information has been sanction by Trump's OWN Treasury Department for being a Russian agent attempting to influence elections:

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/10/treasury-designates-anti-biden-ukrainian-lawmaker-for-sanctions-for-election-interference-411750

Here is the notice the US Treasury website about Derkach (it is the 3rd name down):

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/recent-actions/20200910

I find it ironic that you and others push this stuff when Trump's own guys Mnuchin and Pompeo state that the guy who supposedly gave this dirt on Hunter is a Russian agent attempting to influence elections. But I suspect the news sources you follow didn't bother to mention this stuff. It should be obvious that Giullani, Johnson, and you are the mark in the con and the attempted election influence is NOT for Biden.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

What do you think about this video of Joe Biden telling two men on a stage in front of an audience that he told Ukraine they’re not getting the billion dollars unless the prosecutor that was investigating the company that hired his son was fired?

https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse/videos/797504800724150/

“Two years ago, today, Joe Biden shares how, as Vice President, he threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless a prosecutor was fired.”

Joe said, “Well, x-x-x-x, he was fired.”

Christiane said...

REX RAY,

it seems I have a comment that was not permitted here, so I will accept that judgement.

There is much to discuss that might be helpful, but when comments are not permitted to be shown,
then one wonders if the discussion is something that the owner of the blog would want to take place here.

As to Biden, he supported NATO, and he opposes Russian interference in Ukraine, and I do think his actions speak to that end.

I am convinced that Russia is an enemy of our country (not the people, but the Putin government/dictatorship and its oligarchs.

Wade Burleson said...

Christiane,

I've never intentionally kept a comment of yours out of the stream. I apologize if one is missing. It would have been purely accidental. If you have it saved, please resubmit and I'll get it up.

I had to go to moderation after 72 hours after a post is published because somehow - someway - spam robots get comments in from posts published years ago and I wish to control them better.

Thanks.

Christiane said...

Hello WADE,

thank you for your comment here

and know that I trust you to do what is best for all involved because I think you are a good soul and we are in difficult times indeed

you do what you need to do, and I support your right to do this, for the integrity of your self and for the integrity of the blog

I am 'grieving' as you know, and am 'emotional' in my responses and may cross lines that ought not to be crossed,
so I do submit to being held accountable if that occurs in the opinion of those who manage blogs, and you are a kind and gracious host in so many ways. . .

I count on having hope for better times to come in future. 'All shall be well in the Kingdom of Our Lord' and we have much to look forward to that is on the horizon or just beyond it. Be assured, your judgement in how you treat folks is trusted by myself as I consider you to be someone of sound character who would not consciously wrong anyone willingly. Thanks again for your very kind comment here. Much appreciated. :)

Jen said...

Trump does not equal Jesus.

Tana said...
Politics are a tool for us to use to love our neighbors well. We need to be involved with the goals of loving God and loving our neighbor...not for self-interest.

It is clear (and has been to many of us for years) that trump is a liar, con artist, philanderer and more. He is not the kind of person that most Christians would be friends with in real life. The fact that he has done all of the terrible things he has done and has not lost any of his supporters is unbelievable. It is akin to being a cult. If Obama had done just ONE of the many things trump has done, he would have been thrown out of office.

Yesterday, it was revealed that trump paid $0 in taxes for 10 years and $750 in taxes for 2 years. Many, many hard-working people pay for more than this. And before you tell me that he's a genius for figuring this out, let me remind you that he wrote off $70,000 in hair care. Can you imagine if one of us, a common citizen tried to write off hair care? It's ridiculous. I hope people come to their senses before it is too late.

The emperor truly has no clothes.

Jesus wept.