Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Jesus and Politics

  Life of Christ 50

        Jesus was a revolutionary. I believe that. The problem with saying it, however, is that immediately people see him with ratty hair and a headband leading a communist peoples' revolution in Latin America. Yes, He was a revolutionary. No, He wasn't a political revolutionary.
          Think about it for a minute. He specifically turned down a decent chance to foment a political rebellion and lead a revolt against Rome (John 6.15). There is nothing about His ministry that indicates He was trying to accumulate political power. In fact, what He was clearly after was the spiritual obedience of His people from the heart.
          Of course, people always ask the question, 'Well, if He was offering Himself to Israel as her king what would He have done if they had accepted? Wouldn't He have then had to lead a rebellion against Rome?' But they didn't, and so He didn't, and I think the whole question is thus moot. We are not studying the life of Christ as an academic question, remote from real life application, and surrounded by a lot of what if's. We are studying the life that was actually lived in Palestine two millennia ago, and in that life He obviously didn't seek to lead a political movement.
          He just as obviously got this point across to His Apostles as well. In spite of Rome's corruption, human rights abuses, and the persecution she heaped on the early Church the Apostles quietly steered the Church away from any open confrontation with Rome. It wasn't that the Apostles and the early Church, or Jesus for that matter, were afraid of Rome. Men and women who march in complete faith to their own martyrdom aren't afraid of any earthly power. So why was it then that this revolution I speak of that Jesus lead didn't have a political component?
          Simply this: because political solutions to spiritual problems never work. For example, our American society is rushing headlong away from God's Law and embracing a pro-homosexual agenda. Can we solve this problem by passing a law? Well, we did. Back in 1996 the US Congress overwhelmingly passed the Defense of Marriage Act which was specifically aimed at the growing homosexual marriage movement. Fast forward 18 years and that law is in shreds, and a growing plurality of American states now recognize homosexual marriage. Can we solve this problem by putting in a constitutional amendment? Back in 1920 the Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, and it specifically outlawed the transportation, sale, or use of alcoholic beverages. Fast forward 13 years and it was such a stunning failure that the American public overwhelmingly passed the Twenty First amendment repealing the Eighteenth, and now there are tens of thousands of places one can go to legally purchase alcohol in America. Can we solve the problem by leading the conservative anti-homosexual states in a radical secession from the rest of the country? Back in 1860… nevermind, you know how that one worked out. I say again that political solutions to spiritual problems never work.
          See, the problem in just this one example, an embrace of homosexuality, is a spiritual one. It is unrepentant, rebellious, sinful people by the millions rejecting God and the truths of God's Word. The only way, in this dispensation, to solve that problem is to win those millions of people to Christ, and to ground them in the teachings of God's Word. This is why, in my humble opinion, the single best thing we can do with our money and manpower is to start local churches. They are the scripturally ordained method of reaching people with the Gospel and lifting up the Word of God in this dispensation. In other words, they are a spiritual solution to a spiritual problem.
          Did you ever stop to ask yourself why Jesus chose Simon the Zealot as an Apostle? After all, he literally never says a single thing in the entire New Testament, and we have no record at all of anything about him other than his name. I mean, he was practically useless, at least until you look more closely at his name.
          The Israel of Jesus' day had tremendous problems, spiritually and politically. The Pharisees and Sadducees sought to answer the first, in disastrous fashion, and the Herodians and Zealots sought to answer the second, in a differently disastrous fashion. The Herodians wanted a closer link with Rome, and were in favor of essentially turning Judea into a permanent Roman province. The Zealots, on the other hand, sought to raise a military revolt against the entire might of the Roman empire, and so win Israel's freedom.
          All we know about Simon is that he was a Zealot, and it seems to me that Jesus chose him specifically for that reason. It is almost like Jesus is saying, 'See, I'm putting a man right smack dab next to me who used to think the answer to Israel's problems was a political one. But now he knows better. Now he knows that I am the answer, and there isn't any permanently good answer to be found in politics.'
          Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying, nor am I advocating, that we shouldn't be politically aware, concerned, or opinionated. We should, in a scripturally appropriate fashion. I regular read the newspapers, and keep myself well informed on the economic, legal, political and cultural issues of the day. I also believe very strongly in both voting and praying for our political leadership. But what I am saying is this: we shouldn't make political solutions our aim or goal, nor place our dreams in a political or legal solution to America's problems. My hope is not in politics because Jesus taught me not to place my hope there. He taught me to place it in Himself, and in His teachings. I gently urge you to do the same thing.

          Jesus was a revolutionary, but not a political one.

No comments:

Post a Comment