Friday, November 5, 2010

Who Would Jesus Vote For Last Tuesday?

                Politics and religion.  The two things that you should never address in polite conversation.  But, what if you talk about them in context together?  Do two wrongs make a right?  Before I even address this topic, “Who Would Jesus Vote For?”, I do want to say that I believe that the two most important things to talk about in conversation ARE politics and religion.  In many cases there are right and wrong positions that people(including ourselves) will take in those two areas and if we never have a safe and “polite” conversation to discuss these differing points of view, how will our viewpoints ever mature and grow in wisdom and truth?

                Here comes a big spoiler for the rest of this post;  Jesus never spoke about politics, specifically, he never spoke about liberal policies vs conservative policies!  Can you believe it?  He chose to be strangely silent on a super duper important issue; who I should vote for in 21st century America!  Clearly, while the preceding statement is dripping with sarcasm, the point I am trying to make is that when it came to specific modern political ideology he had nothing to say, but we cannot use that fact as a basis for not having an expectation that we are able to clearly articulate a “political” position by being deeply rooted in the coherent worldview and perspective that Jesus preached on.

                One of the most impressive things(in my opinion) about Jesus’ earthly ministry was His way of deflecting “bad” questions.  By that I do not mean he avoided them, he instead cut through the crap that we often build into our questions and got quickly to the heart of the issue.  What do I mean by that?  We like to obfuscate our true intent lying beneath the obvious surface of our questions by asking around the issue.  The reasons we do this are many.  Most pertinent reasons to our topical question(voting) are; we obfuscate out of fear of hearing the answer we don’t want to hear, and, we obfuscate by trying to manipulate the questioned into answering in our pre-approved way. 

                In the first example, a young man wants to ask a young lady on a date, but is fearful of being turned down.  So instead of being direct he asks a series of leading questions, “who do you hang out with?  Are you seeing anybody?  Do you have any plans this weekend?  What’s the longest dating relationship you have had?” etc.   None of those questions would be necessary if he simply buckled down and said, “I think you are pretty swell, and if you are free this Friday night, I would like to take you to dinner”  All of the other questions and actions men twist themselves through are unnecessary if they were just forthright with what their true intentions are. 

                The second example can be shown in the interaction with a child and his parents.  A 15 year old girl wants to go to a party with her boyfriend that Friday night at a house where the parents are gone.  She of course will not directly say that.  Instead she will ask a series of questions over a period of time that he parents will answer affirmatively to.  “Isn’t my boyfriend a great guy?  Doesn’t he have great parents?  You sure do like it when we go hang out with a large group of friends instead of by ourselves, don’t you?  Can we hang out with a bunch of our friends Friday night?”  Without knowing her actual intentions the parents have just walked into the trap of supporting their daughters going to an un-chaperoned house party, and they might not even know that is what it is! 

                Through out the Gospels  Jesus was approached by people attempting to get this wise Rabbi to affirm some desired position.  Either due to their desire to hear him support something they were unsure about, or, as in the case of the teachers of the Law, to try to find him at fault in some way as to delegitimize his teaching.  Yet each time Jesus recognized what was truly at the heart of the question being asked of him and cut right through to the heart.

                Luke 18:18-19 is a great example of this technique.  ‘

                        A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  “Why do you   call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.’”

                What do we immediately notice?  Jesus totally skips over the man’s legitimate question!  What the man is asking, underneath his actual words, is, does this Jesus fellow have the knowledge and keys to eternity and that it is inherent to the question whether or not Jesus can legitimately support whatever answer he may give.  Jesus answers the question by going right to the heart of the matter.  He answers this mans questions by asking about Jesus Himself.  If this man believes that Jesus is good, he would therefore in this scenario be accepting Jesus’ divinity, therefore, He could trust whatever answer about eternity Jesus might give.  If the man does not accept the premise of Jesus divinity, it is of no use asking the question because a mere mortal could not adequately answer that question for him.  It is of no use to us if Jesus has an “answer” about eternity unless He is indeed God. 

                While it is true Jesus makes very little reference to politics, other than the oft-quoted, “give unto Caesar what is Caesars”(mark 12:17) we can infer a few things about the conversation we might have with Jesus about politics.  Primarily that he would ignore the actual words of our questions and get to the real heart of the matter.

                Let us unpack what we mean by a “good” government, or a political establishment that is more/better aligned with Christianity and the Bible.  According to a dictionary understanding government is: the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises its authority, controls and administers public policy, and directs and controls the actions of its members or subjects.  Without belaboring a point by point breakdown of these roles, let us just say that we look to government to provide stability and reliability in the lives of a diverse population through laws, programs and agencies to accomplish said goals.

                A good government, I would argue, would be one that most effectively encourages and maintains the highest possible level of quality of life for its citizens.  This is where we go off the deep end though.  Quality of life is super subjective and hard to nail down.  Ultimately Government regulates the interpersonal actions of individuals through the group experiences, so for our purposes let us just look at what the bible teaches about treating others. 

                Instead of retyping a ton of verses check out this link:


                Or, just accept my recap:  Think of others before yourself, take care of the poor and widows, give out of your abundance joyfully to those in more need then yourself.

                So, let us play out our fictional Q&A with Jesus

Me:  Jesus Who Should I Vote For?
Jesus:  Your friend Jack has been without work for 2 months, did you take him dinner last night like I convicted you to do and did you send in that check to the gas company for him like you thought about doing?

                Wait a minute you say.  Jesus didn’t answer the question!  Actually, he did.  We are just asking the question in the wrong way.  We have an expectation that the government has a preeminent role in taking care of people, when Jesus clearly teaches(and all of the NT will back this up) that WE have the preeminent role in taking care of each other.   I am convinced he would say, "why do you care what the government is up to.  Just do what I told YOU to do!"  

                At this point I am sure some of you(because many thousands of you are reading this…….) might be desiring for me to make some sort of definitive statement about whether Jesus was a countercultural hippie with a Che Guerrera T-Shirt on, or, that he is wearing a pinstripe power blue suit with a Rush Limbaugh button.  But I think Jesus would have very little to say about politics in general.  The focus of what He came to earth to do was not to redeem corrupt bureaucracies, but to restore the relationship between ourselves and God through His death on the cross.   

                I can make a number of strong arguments for certain political positions, and I would do so with a strong biblical sourcing.  But, the topic was who would Jesus vote for, not, who would Adam Borsay vote for.   And to specifically answer the question, I am pretty sure He would be better off just putting himself in as a write in candidate….for every position. 

                Whether you are on the far left, the far right, or somewhere in-between, I hope this challenges you to confront a few issues.  One, God does not care nearly as much about politics as you do.  And if what we are passionate about is not what God is passionate about, maybe we should reevaluate the effort we put into our political beliefs(or anything for that matter).  Two, stop waiting for the government to take care of the clearly given responsibilities that you have to serve self-sacrificially those around you.  Do not get overly concerned with the speck in your brothers eye(Matthew 7:3-5) which is the speck of him not pulling his “fair” weight in helping others, when you have a much larger plank in your own eye.   

                Here is a thought I have had that you may or may not like.  And I will end with this:

Demand socialism from yourself as you look towards, and interact, with your fellow man, but extend the right to be a rugged individualist to that same fellow man.

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