Jesus Loves Politics – And Politicians, Too

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In a recent post on Happy SonshipCarlos A. Rodríguez writes, “Jesus said no to being the leader of a few so He could become the Saviour of all.”

And I say, “Good for Jesus.”

Now, before you hate me, please understand this about me. I believe in Jesus. And when I say “I believe in Jesus,” I don’t mean in a soft, squishy Jesus who was “just a nice man who said don’t judge” kind of way. I believe He was God the Son, second person of the trinity, saviour of all mankind and that “whosoever shall call upon the Lord shall be saved.” And I did. And I trust Him with both my life and my eternity.

I HATE “Holier Than Thou” Christian Attitudes

With all due respect to Jesus (and to Carlos Rodriguez) please hear where I’m coming from. The FULL statement Carlos made is,

Jesus said ‘no’ to being the leader of a few so He could become the Saviour of all. Yet, the Body of Christ is still trying to get the Messiah to rule in our secular systems.

The problem is that the point Carlos was making is just so….. misguided, at best; and if I may say so, it even feels just a wee bit self-righteous. (Sorry, Carlos. I have to expect it was not your intention, and not your heart. So I can appreciate that perhaps you just don’t see how you’re coming across on this one.)

You are coming across as self-righteous – as if Jesus would never condone involvement in politics, and therefore, neither should we. That he is, at the same time, the “perfect mix between republican and democrat” and yet so much above advocating that any of us be involved in any way. No, sir. Not even in part. Except, of course, to hold our noses at the voting booth, in the end game, at which point we can complain about how evil they all are as we race in at the last minute and pull the handle for the least bad candidate, “doing our part to ‘redeem’ the mess, somehow, but without being sullied by any undue involvement in the process.”

I don’t like Christians eating Christians. Maybe you’d feel that’s what I’m doing here. I’m not attacking you as a brother in Christ; I’m merely making a response to the point in the article. (Attacking the point, perhaps. I’ll give you that. But I’m not attacking you. Just this point you’re trying to make. Because it falls down, brother. Right on its face and doesn’t get up again.)

It’s a feeling that is left in me as I read some of your other stuff that rubs me – rubs so many of us, actually – the wrong way. But before I do, let me start with where I have to agree with you, my Christian brother, Carlos.

I Think Carlos Rodriquez Is At Least Partly Right

You know, I can appreciate at least some of what I think he might be trying to say – at least if I use my imagination and fill in the pieces for him. He has a grasp on something here, at least in part. I have often written that if we believe getting the right guy at the top will solve all the nation’s problems, we are sadly mistaken. I also understand that you can’t make people righteous from the outside, with laws; true righteousness is a matter of a surrendered heart to the King of Kings.

But Carlos speaks of Jesus, and His mission, and how people so badly misunderstood what He was trying to do:

He had just healed the sick among them. He had fed 5,000 of their most needy. And the people were excited about His prophetic edge. His words were revolutionary. His invitation, captivating. His miracles, helpful. So they had the right heart but they chose the wrong method.

Their proposal was kingship. For Jesus to rule, to dominate, to lead the nation. And if He would have said “yes”, the crowds would have rallied behind Him. For He had the momentum… and the people had their Messiah.

But Jesus ran away.

Jesus did run away. I agree that he did and that it was the right thing for Jesus to do. Where I run into some difficulty with this (and excuse me, but where it starts to feel a little self-righteous) is a little further down: it almost feels like it bleeds into a feeling that since that is what Jesus did, it is automatically what WE should do…

He left them. All of them. And went up the mountain by himself. Just him and his Father. Leaving behind the thousands of voices that begged him to take over. To use power. To replace evil. To fix the world, through politics and human endeavours.

Then let’s just let evil grow rampant so that God can be glorified in the mess, right?

Carlos, do you believe in the court system? Do you believe in incarcerating criminals? Do you believe in a legal system that effectively determines who the criminals are and that there should be justice in the world? If someone is trying to hurt you or your loved ones, do you call the police? I assume you would say yes.

The difference here is that we, as those who see a need and a place for Christians to be involved in politics is largely a matter of size, scope and timing. If someone is trying to infiltrate your school system to have crazy crap introduced into the curriculum to fill your children’s heads with situational ethics and gender-fluidity studies, do you not see the wisdom in trying to stop that?

Do you somehow forget in all of this that Jesus is UNIQUE?

I agree that Jesus was very aware of His mission, and engaging in a political/military coup was not part of that agenda for him. But surely, of all the people who have ever lived and walked the earth, there must be more room in the equation to see that Jesus was unique. And I’m tired of these very myopic takes on how Jesus did it compared to how we do it which seem to not consider this part of the picture in a fair and realistic sense.

The problem is that if we look at what Jesus did and didn’t do as the entire measuring line of what WE are called to do – you know, like that great oracle, the “WWJD” bracelet would dictate – it could lead to disastrous consequences. I wonder how many of these successful bloggers are living in a home purchased on a mortgage when Jesus never borrowed money and never had a home in which to lay his head..

If we don’t look at the uniqueness of who Jesus WAS – God UNIQUELY INCARNATE IN HUMAN FLESH – then, when we look at how he interacted with His culture in His day, we can get caught in a dangerous game of “WWJD” that could, when taken to its logical conclusion, eventually weed Christians right out of the gene pool. (After all, Jesus never married, and He never raised his own kids. Connect the dots…. I’ll give you a minute…..)

And the reality is that none of us do use that – none of us just say “what would Jesus do” – as the sum total for the measuring line of what we are to do and how we are to live. But playing the WWJD card is a fast way to catch people off balance if you’re pitching your point with a good sound bite. Like this one (from another of Carlos’ posts, Jesus never ran for office):

I pray with all my heart that we stop the silly pursuit of political power, of trying to change people’s hearts with bills and law and elections, of trying to force the concept of Christian nations instead of taking the love of Christ to ALL the peoples in ALL the nations.

Sorry, Carlos. But I’m not sure if you’re just missing how the dots connect around you, or if you really think that is all that people are trying to do – MERELY change things from the outside. You speak as if this has to be some “either-or” in the picture: either you’re trying to change people’s hearts with the gospel, or you’re trying to engineer change by restraint and law from the top, as if you can’t or shouldn’t do both. I sure don’t see that, not at all. You might mean well, but it still feels a little self-righteous to me.

It’s not an “either-or” effort here, man.

Stop doing that – stop positioning yourself as the judge of the hearts of all those who are involved in politics as falling short of some standard that Jesus would follow. You don’t know what God has called them to do. Some devout Christian people are out there trying to be an agent of change in the society to restrain lawlessness and to allow room for freedom of the people of the country to raise their kids as they feel God is telling them to do.

I know you don’t think you’re judging people’s hearts. I mean, that’s what you say at the end of your article:

Now, I’m not denying that some of these candidates have a relationship with Jesus. I’m not denying that some grew up with Christian values and are legitimately trying to do what’s best for their country (according to their understanding of those Christian values).

We’re not aiming for “instead.” We’re aiming for “both.” We’re not “trying to change people’s hearts with bills and law and elections.” We’re trying to prevent the radicals among us from continuing to be the squeaky wheels that get the politicians to give them grease in order to get their own and stay in power, when that power comes at the cost of the freedom to do what we feel we need to do for our families. We’re trying to prevent the rise to power of those who would use that same legal system in the other direction to shut us up simply because we disagree with them.

And I will say (as I’m thinking you might) that persecution is good for the church, in the sense that, as the church comes under persecution, God’s glory has a chance to manifest more clearly as light in darkness. But I don’t believe God prefers that the earth be in darkness to the light of His kingdom, do you?

I think it’s this kind of thing you say that bugs me somehow – where it feels a little self-righteous:

I’m just saying that no one (either Republican or Democrat or Libertarian) can claim to have Jesus supporting them above the rest.

Really? Maybe me, too. But that’s only partly right, and partly wrong – and again: I don’t know if you don’t connect the dots, or if you’re just a little self-righteous here.

You see, I will agree that no one can claim to have Jesus supporting them above the rest if you’re talking about how much he loves us as sinners, hopefully saved by grace.

But if, for a moment, you want to insinuate that none of the ideas, the goals and the agendas of either side are more pleasing to Jesus than the other side; that the people who are proposing that that baby in the womb is a life worth saving do not have an idea more in line with the kingdom of God than the people who see that baby as disposable tissue; that the people who are advocating for normalizing every kind of sexual proclivity have an idea that is as pleasing to Jesus as the people who want to advocate for abstinence, monogamy and virtue, then I think you’re dead wrong.

I will agree that not either party has it perfectly right. But there are patterns, Carlos. There are broad, sweeping patterns.

Please take another look from my side, and see where this is going.

Do I witness to people? Absolutely. Do I get on my knees everyday and ask God to fill me with a hunger for his holiness, and that I can host His presence in a lost and dying world as an agent of change? Absolutely.

But I believe God loves the fact that we want to be agents of change; even if it means doing so in the system we have, as much as we can, given the circumstances. You just seem to say so many little things that make great sound bites, but they come across like we should somehow always be “above” an involvement with politics. Like this one:

If we confuse American Christianity with the good news of Jesus, we will end up with a message that is only good news to those in Christian America.

Politics is about taking sides. Politics is about eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Jesus is the tree of life… and ANYONE can feast from Him.

Please tell me, Carlos, that you can see how that comes across as a little condescending to anyone who feels they should be involved in the process, because they truly believe God is calling them to be an agent of change. Please don’t have the audacity to tell me to express my opinion, and then get out and vote for the best candidate; but then stop there and never actively go out and campaign for one; or speak to the issues that cause them to want to run; or try to influence the process, or BE a politician, because I believe GOD called me to run as an agent of change. If I do that, do you really feel I’ve “eaten from the tree of good and evil?” Do you really believe that if I’m more actively involved in politics than you are, that I’m automatically dirty or deceived? It sure sounds like it, brother.

You’re not calling people involved in politics “evil” in exactly the same way as Jack Van Impe is “not setting dates.”

You’re not better than those who are trying to be salt and light in the system in as many as the various ways they can. You’re coming across as seeing yourself as better than me and you don’t even know me or know my heart. Stop it.

Your Christianity is allowed to flourish in this country because your forefathers grew a strong root for this tree of liberty from which you eat. And the fruit is starting to hang, over-ripe, and with the tree close to dying. You still have the liberty to EVEN VOTE IN THE FIRST PLACE because your forefathers shed their blood for liberty so you can do so, and so far, this tree is not yet dead. But from your high and lofty perch of seeing an involvement in politics as dirty and conniving, you are like the communist professors at our major universities who sit and teach our children of the evils of capitalism, even as they draw huge salaries from those very schools that grew out of the soil of a free country.

Jesus was “the PERFECT mix between Republican and Democrat?” Huh? What does that REALLY even MEAN?

When you make statements like “Jesus was the perfect mix between Republican and Democrat,” you’re either appeasing, or ignoring some things, or you have your OWN opinions about the role of government, about how much political involvement is good or not, about how much the government should or should not involve itself in the affairs of its citizens, about where to draw the line between advocating for liberty and managing against license.

What does this Jesus, who is “the perfect mix between republican and democrat” look like? Maybe you see equal numbers of faults between some of the democratic and some of the republican points of view. But that doesn’t mean you don’t see political positions that are good and political positions that are bad. It means either party equally disappoints.

Welcome to the club. But the difference is that WE are trying to change that to give you better choices as you hold your nose at the voting booth. You merely complain that there are no good choices to make. But we are trying to make better choices available to you. Is that so much more wrong than what you are doing? Why is involvement in politics ALWAYS wrong?

And I’m sorry. But if you’re advocating for some position such as “we shouldn’t try to force government to legislate morality,” then which morality are you advocating? Personal liberty? The soft, squishy, “we should let people do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else?” Should the government legislate against the mother having a right to kill the child in the womb? Against special interest groups infiltrating the school systems to indoctrinate our children with transgender, gender-fluid perspectives, about Islam and not Christianity? Do you support the people in politics who are advocating for these important issues? And if so, can you call them evil and dirty, and beneath what we should be doing as believers?

Everyone draws a line. If you’re advocating for “let everyone do what they want as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else,” that filters into how we govern, too. You yourself said,

If we confuse American Christianity with the good news of Jesus, we will end up with a message that is only good news to those in Christian America.

I would only ask you what your idea of “American Christianity” is, as compared to “true Christianity?” We live in America. We are trying to influence the way laws are made and the way laws are governed to try to enable as much of a movement, in every way possible, to bring freedom for the kingdom of God to influence the nation, for evil to be restrained and righteousness to flourish and to have laws in place that will advocate for that possibility. If America is where we live, shouldn’t we want to influence here, too? Not JUST abroad, but ALSO here? Why is it either/or?

We can get involved – at every level we can, as we believe God has called each of us, as an individual – or we can sit back, seeing that there is evil, hold our noses and vote for the least evil of the bunch. Or we can do both. But simply condemning them all as beneath “what Jesus would do,” and then NOT getting involved to influence the choices so we have better choices on voting day does not look like what Jesus would have us to do, either. Maybe HE wouldn’t do it. But He was UNIQUE. When he called us to be salt and light in this world, I do not see where politics was excluded as one of the areas where we should do that.

I will do both. I will get involved to get the best laws, the best candidates, the best judges, and then STILL HOLD MY NOSE and vote for the least bad candidates I can.

And I won’t condemn you for your focus on feeding the poor and spreading the gospel to all nations, simply because you’re not, instead, trying to influence the political arena for the best political outcome possible.

Your calling is important. So do that. It is what God called you to do. But no one can do everything. Just, please, don’t sit on your perch saying that God didn’t call ANYONE to be involved before voting day.

People like me have been doing our part to influence the field so you have better choices over which you can hold your nose as you vote. You’re welcome.

You can’t have it both ways. Unless you consult your WWJD bracelet and ignore the rest of the bible. And then the question is, what gospel are you really preaching?

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