Eleven of the twelve disciples were martyred. They were sawn in two, stoned, boiled in oil or hung on crosses upside down. You may remember Jesus also died on a cross. And even with all this, when I look at the New Testament I find little mention of politics.
None who were martyred lamented the downfall of their political system or the tyranny of those who governed. Whether killed by the Romans or the religious leaders of the day, they went to their deaths never once moaning over how their society had fallen or their “rights” had been taken away.
I bring this up because almost every Christian I know in both parties… and yes, they exist in both parties, seems consumed with politics. I”m convinced Jesus never ventured toward politics because they are not eternal. Governments will come and go and some will be incredible and some will be destructive. I’m not saying it”s wrong to be involved, to vote for a political party, or to care. However, I do think it”s wrong to define ourselves by the party we choose to affiliate with or the political beliefs we hold. By their nature politics will consume our time, energy and passion and even the best, most brilliant political system is merely temporary.
AND NOW FOR THE CONTROVERSIAL PART
Roman rule was in many ways tyrannical. People were jailed and killed for little reason. Women were treated like cattle, slavery was abundant and there were no “human rights” laws anywhere. Putting someone on a cross was not a new idea. Men and woman had been hanging on crosses throughout Jesus”s life and well before. And in the midst of it all Jesus never once railed against the government.
The religeous leaders of the day wanted Jesus to rise up and overthrow the tyranny. They wanted “justice” for the oppressed in a way that they understood justice. They wanted him to rule and to bring morality and to reinstitute prayer in school and to stop placing people on the cross and to help keep their definition of marriage and to stop abortion and to… well, you get it.
And I get it too. I have often wondered why Jesus never said anything about slavery being wrong. I”ve often wondered why he didn”t just come out and say “Women are equal”, and then we could have been done with it. We still have Christian men who see woman as less… Jesus could have fixed this with a single line. I have often wondered why Jesus didn”t speak more clearly about these and many other things.
But the thing is, Jesus did talk about all of these things. Sure, he didn”t get into specifics but I think that”s because people nitpick specifics. Jesus answered all of the above questions and… well, every other question that could have ever come his way. When people tried to pin him down on specifics of the law and righteousness he turned the table and basically said, IT”S ALL
ABOUT LOVE AND RELATIONSHIP.
In the context of love and relationship slavery is abandoned and everyone is equal and uplifted. Sure, if we just love people there will still be lots of things going on that are wrong and even evil. But love can go anywhere, it will even be invited into the house of its enemy. When we hold our standards of “right” and “truth” and “morality” and “righteousness” high, we create enemies, when we love, we see brothers and sisters and parents and kids.
Jesus understood governments come and go and they are neither good nor evil. Jesus understood that change comes through loving people not preaching at them. I am not saying you are wrong to care about abortion but I do believe Jesus would have had dinner with the abortion doctor or the tax collector or anyone willing to sit with him… which was pretty much everyone. And in that dinner he would not have railed against the man or woman but would have loved them.
Christians in the US have become political. I think this is sad. Many can’t differentiate between their belief in God and their political leanings. I may believe much of what my political friends believe, but I choose not to define myself by the content of my belief but to define myself by the transforming love of Christ.
What if rather than telling people they are wrong and they are the enemy and they are immoral, we love them like they are our brothers and sisters… because they are our brothers and sisters? What if, even when they don”t change or believe like us, it doesn”t change how we interact with or love and accept them in the slightest?
It is not our job to change people. It is our joy to love them. If we define ourselves by what we believe we have created an “US vs Them” world, and rather than love we have become law… and that”s just sad.