For months now, political ads and discourse (the strident kind) assaulted the airwaves and intertubes. It is very difficult not to notice. You can not even drive through your neighborhood without out seeing lawn ornaments declaring that home’s inhabitant’s political preference. Even Monday Night Football is not a safe haven from electioneering. Tis the nature of living in a democratic society. Some of the aspects of political silly season, we can laugh at. Others should make our skin crawl. One such issue that has particularly bugged me this election season is the way Jesus gets used as a political football to help one side or the other. And both sides stand guilty in this charge.
Jesus is a unique figure in human history. He is unique in that He is an authoritative figure. Millions in this country swear their ultimate allegiance to Him. So it is no big surprise to see the political class attempt to co-opt Jesus for their own political ends. The math is quite simple; convince a significant majority that allegiance to Jesus means allegiance to a certain political party or ideology and guarantee that political party or ideology unending power. Thus we get “Jesus was a democrat” or “Jesus was a republican” or even “Jesus was a socialist.”
Have you noticed the tense these people use when they talk about Jesus. Frankly, as an orthodox Christian, I find it very odd. They always speak of Jesus in the past tense, as if Jesus is no longer living. When I mention the political affiliations of dead politicians, I never use the present tense. To do so would immediately convey my belief that this person remains alive. So when I talk about Ronald Reagan, I say that he was a republican. When I mention JFK, I say he was a democrat. They are no longer republicans or democrats, respectively, for they are among the dearly departed. Yet, what do orthodox Christians believe about Jesus? They believe He rose from the grave and then ascended into Heaven. This means that He is still alive. Speaking of Jesus in the past tense is wholly inappropriate for an orthodox follower. I find it curious that the political manipulators have not caught on to this. But then again, they are not concerned with Jesus as He is, but only Jesus as they can conceive of him and use him. Anyone who says Jesus “was” something, is clueless and does not deserve your time or attention.
Yet, what I find far more disturbing are the Christians who allow themselves to believe that somehow the political class is more right about Jesus than their Bible. They have forgotten (or perhaps were never taught) that Christianity is a political ideology unto itself. It is also way more than that, but not less. The statement “Jesus is Lord” is not merely a statement about Jesus’ reign in the church or individual hearts of believers. Rather it is a political statement. When a new believer confesses that “Jesus is Lord” that new believer is saying that Jesus is Lord of the cosmos. He is King and He rules over everything and everyone. And this political statement is at the heart of the Christian faith. To follow Jesus is to live as a citizen of His Kingdom. And no political party or ideology can sufficiently reduce the Kingdom to fit their agenda. While we live in a democratic republic, every Christian is a monarchist. And not just a monarchist, but a theocratic monarchist. Jesus, who is God, is King and we long for the day He consummates His reign on the earth. While we wait, make no mistake, Jesus reigns as king from Heaven. Nothing is outside his purview and He is at work in the events of human history to bring about His purposes for His glory. Maranatha!
This all begs the question, should Christians vote? Would it not be treasonous for Christians to take part in the political process? No. As my pastor, David Prince, said on Sunday, to refuse to participate is to fail to love your neighbor. The man who sits in the Oval Office will have a profound effect on the lives of millions of people (just ask the millions of unemployed and under-employed). The policies of the man we put in the White House matter. So if we are to obey our King and love our neighbor as ourself, we better make our way to the voting booth and punch the ticket for the man we believe will best serve our country. While at the same time, we must not think that what happens in the voting booth is the most significant thing going on in the world. That line of thinking crosses over into treason against our King. For there, we have stopped honoring God.
Is our country broken? Yes. Will today’s results fix all our problems? Nope. Not even close. Government will continue to atrophy until the day the One with shoulders broad enough to bear it returns. Until then, the next time the government wastes your money studying the effects of bovine flatulence on the environment, let that drive you to yearn for your King, rather than deeper into prideful cynicism. Let us fixate on His perfections, even as we live in the midst of so much imperfection. The only hope for our country and our world is not on the ballot today. But one day He will return and make everything right.
So sleep well tonight. Jesus is King and that will never change.