Politics or Jesus

Christian and Political

There are three things you aren’t supposed to bring up in polite conversation: Religion, politics, and money. I guess we can go ahead and mark this blog as impolite… Last week Bernie Sanders had an interesting encounter with Russell Vought. (Lori Ferguson’s son Daniel did an amazing blog on it which can be found here) https://whychurchblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/what-bernie-sanders-got-so-wrong-about-christianity-and-what-christianity-gets-so-wrong-about-outsiders/

While this small section of dialogue has sparked a lot of other conversations, the central theme to these exchanges revolves around how we handle being Christian AND political.

Looking at the Issues

Last year before the elections our youth group did something a little different. We took the top three candidates and the top 10 issues (abortion, immigration, gun control, etc.) and looked at each issue from a purely Biblical perspective. We then marked which candidate had the most biblical perspective on the issue. It sounds simple, but it was one of the hardest things for some of our more politically minded people to handle. One thing that made it difficult is that the Bible never mentions guns, doesn’t mention abortion, or directly mention a lot of the other issues that we talked about that night. And sometimes when it did talk about what we were looking for, there’d be another verse somewhere else that seemed to go against that first verse. So for all those people who are looking for that one verse that completely justifies their political position, that verse probably doesn’t exist. At the end of the night we looked at how the candidates stacked up, and it wasn’t good. None of them completely matched what the Bible said, I think the best one had 6 out of 10. 

The Point

The point of that night was to get students to think about politics and the Bible differently. Jesus was never a republican or a democrat, but it’d be a mistake to think that Jesus was never political. There is an amazing book that I think anyone who wrestles with politics and christianity should read called “The Politics of Jesus” by John Howard Yoder. Basically, the book explores “the Gospel narrative to reveal how Jesus is rightly portrayed as a thinker and leader immediately concerned with the agenda of politics and the related issues of power, status, and right relations.”

Following Jesus

If we, as Christians, are called to be imitators of Jesus, then we need to be involved in politics like Jesus was involved in politics. But that doesn’t mean that we support party before God. And the even harder thing to come to terms with is that it doesn’t even mean we pick country before God. Jesus was born an Israelite in a time where Romans ruled over them. He was expected to save his nation (or at least that’s what they thought the Messiah would do) and he never once talked about Israel first, or Israeli rights. He talked about the Kingdom of God in ways that we still don’t understand. It goes against our ingrained logic of what politics should be, so much so that most of us don’t see an issue with the picture of an American flag flying over a Christian flag. We are supposed to be Christ followers before anything else, and as Christ followers we will get involved in politics because we’ll be fighting the cause of the widows, the orphans, and the foreigners in our midst. We’ll care about the hungry and poor, we’ll even care about those who live a lifestyle different than what we think is acceptable. Politics and religion can get messy, and maybe we should avoid talking about them in polite conversation. Maybe instead we should talk about them where it really matters and follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

Nathan Persell serves as our Youth Director. When he's not leading devotions and playing basketball with teenagers, he enjoys disc golf and bike riding. Learn more about Nathan here.