Jesus Christ was involved with politics! Such a statement will draw many reactions from different kinds of people. Some, who major on the “spiritual” side of things, may vehemently oppose such a thought! Others, both on the right and on the left, will say “hoorah” and make Jesus Christ one of their campaign workers to further their career and/or agenda. Others, like me, may feel that neither of these sides give a satisfactory answer. Well, I’m sticking by my original sentence. Jesus Christ was, and is, involved with politics.
Let me make an important statement. I do not believe Jesus lived a compartmentalized life. He did not wear a “spiritual” shirt one day, a “political” shirt another day, an “earthly” shirt the day after that, and a “heavenly” shirt to end the week. Christ was a whole person. Yet, as a whole person he had different aspects to his nature and character and we are simply “zeroing” in on one of those right now: his political involvement.
Before you “X” out of this blog because of your frustration at the thought of Jesus being political, let me throw out a few defintions to the word. Political- the art of science of political government; political science. The conducting of or engaging in political affairs, often professionally. The methods or tactics involved in managing a state or government.
I want to zero in on that last defintion. The methods involved in managing a state of government. May I say ask a question to the two groups I addressed earlier. “What state or government did/does Christ manage?” It is neither america nor the United States government. Remember, satan once offered Jesus the united states presidency, but He declined. I hear a lot of amens from the other side, but you must answer the question too. Is Christ the manager of an imaginary kingdom located somewhere between your heart and your stomach? Or is He the King of a Kingdom that is located within you, but is also located in the earth. What state does Christ manage? The heavenly state. What government does He manage? The divine one. Where does it come from? God’s realm- the heavenlies. Where is it coming to? The earth. Within us and all around us.
Does this kingdom mix in with the kingdoms of the world? No. Is this kingdom meant to have no effect upon the kingdoms of this world because it’s only spiritual and within? Well, look at Jesus. He openly addressed the powers of his day when the time was right. And the result of this was capitol punishment. Look at Paul, Peter, and John. They were all imprisoned and executed (they tried to kill John, so they say, but it didn’t work) by the state for two things: 1) denying that Caesar was the Lord, and 2) Affirming that Christ is Lord. They were not imprisoned or killed for their spiritual views or opinions. They were imprisoned and killed for their political opinions (and like we said earlier, these two things are not separate, but united).
Two sad realities have painted the canvas of history: Christ’s kingdom has been confused for, and mixed with, the kingdoms of this earth (whether that be the papacy, the holy roman empire, england and the church of england, or america “the christian nation”). On the other side, Christ’s kingdom has been reduced to merely a personal, inner reality that saves me quite nicely, but never demands my political allegiance, suffering, or sacrifice. The first side is the religious side. The other is the gnostic one. The Kingdom of God is neither.
The Kingdom of God is to be experienced first within, and then it is to have a real and transforming expression in the earth. It is personal, but also communal. It is within, but it is also without. But we have to believe that such a kingdom is real. That we can live into it now. That it’s possible for God to gather a community of people who willingly submit to Jesus as their king and live in union with his loving, and just government.
If we do this we will not be malcontents simply railing againt the way things are. We will be too busy living out the kingdom that is within and among us. On the other hand, we should not expect a life free of conflict seeing a kingdom life will come into conflict with the kingdoms of this world, and one day will topple them all.
There is so much more that could be said, like the fact that Jesus used a political word to describle the community that would gather around him- Ecclesia, but we’ll stop for now. As we approach an election in america this leaves us quite free. Don’t give in to those who say that it is your divine duty to vote (and usually they mean it is your divine duty to vote republican). If you don’t feel a candidate expresses anything righteous or positive, or is a “lesser of two evils”, don’t vote. Don’t offend your conscience. Neither listen to the voice that says “you CANNOT vote”. You may if you feel the liberty to do so.
But above all, may we live into the kingdom of God and Christ, and may that kingdom, after so a long a time, have a real and lasting impact in the earth today.