Sunday, July 4, 2010

Jesus & Politics?

What Would Jesus Do?

Many today believe Christians should not be involved in politics. Jesus is not a politician, but he is a king. He wasn’t a political scientist, but he is a master teacher. He was not a lawyer, but he is a lawgiver. In the course of Jesus ministry, he dealt with many political issues. I am defining political issues as topics concerning the laws of the land that were controlled by the government.  

There were many political hot topics in Jesus day. The nation of Judea was occupied at that time by the Roman Empire, which led to vast political divisions. Some of the issues of the day were: whether or not you should pay taxes to Rome; being conscripted to carry items for Roman soldiers for one mile; what constitutes work on the Sabbath; should children be responsible for their parents in their old age; can you pay the temple tax in Roman currency; and the legalities of divorce. These were divisive political issues people were ready to fight and even die for.

If you look at Jesus life and teaching, he dealt with each one of these issues. How could he not? You cannot separate morality from the law. Law must have its roots in a value system or it has no logical justification whatsoever.  Law without a moral basis is merely the use of force to impose the tyrannical will of the more powerful on the weak. In contrast, law based on morality provides for the protection of unalienable rights and delivery of justice where those rights are violated. By the very definition, rights are something we deserve, and therefore, it would be wrong to take them from another without just cause. To say we have rights, presumes morality. Law is legislating morality in treatment of others.

Jesus spoke on the morality of politics. Jesus taught his followers to pay their taxes. (Matthew 22:17-21) He taught his followers that when they were unjustly forced to go one mile to go two miles to demonstrate love for their political enemies. (Matthew 5:41) He taught that it was not in violation of the Sabbath law to work on Saturday, if it was to save a life or do good for someone in need. (Matthew 12:12) He taught that laws were created to serve man and man was not made to serve the laws. (Matthew 2:27) Government is there for the individual, the individual is not there for the government. (No wonder communists hate Christianity.) Jesus taught it was a child’s responsibility to care for their parents in their old age. (Matthew 7:5-11) Jesus taught that money changers who charged excessive rates in the temple were a “den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:13) And Jesus taught that divorce, except for fornication, was adultery and wrong. (Matthew 5:32)

Jesus was not a politician, but he sure was “politically incorrect.” Because of his teachings on law, religion, and the nature of the kingdom of God, he was crucified.  The world and its politics are in direct opposition to the plain teachings of Christ. He spoke out about our moral responsibility to government, our attitude toward oppression, the purpose of law, how to care for the poor, social justice, and the nature of marriage.

When making a decision in life, the question is often asked, “What Would Jesus Do?”  On issues where morality and government intersect, Jesus spoke out about politics and so should we.  Sometimes being involved in politics is just being like Jesus.  We want to use  your influence for Christ but we can’t if we don’t teach what He taught and live as he lived and Jesus was overtly involved in political issues, rebuking public leaders, and calling us to individually and our leaders to a godly standard.  He used his influence in political matters.  How can we honor Him and follow Him without using our influence in political matters?

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