As some of you know, I had been taking a break from politics. I hadn’t blogged much about political issues. In my every day life I’d avoided political discussions. I’d been thinking about them intensely, but I’d been trying to think about them from Jesus’ perspective, not my own.
This became necessary because I was beginning to feel like I was trying to serve two masters. One was Jesus. The other was politics. I was trying to put the two on equal footings and come up with some sort of compromise between them.
I’m a politically-minded guy. I have been so for longer than I have been a Christian. I felt a bit like Lot’s wife. I couldn’t help but look at where I had been, even if it turned me into a pillar so salt.
The problem, though, is that I see much of what Jesus did as having intensely political repurcussions. I didn’t feel like in the long run I could both follow Jesus and be apolitical. Yet, on the other hand, both the left and the right have profoundly trivialized Him by acting as though He’s the spokesmen for their own respective political agendas.
At some point, I remembered a thing my friend Garret had said at some point. He said, “Jesus is no respector of persons.” Garret knows how much Jesus loves us. He wasn’t saying that Jesus doesn’t. He was making quite a different point. The statement struck me as fresh and provocative and just about right.
This inspired in me a related thought. This thought: “Jesus is no respector of politics.”
Here’s what I mean:
Part of what our world view does is slice the world up in specific ways. For example, we see some things as political issues and other things as not political issues. I imagine at Jesus time there was a similiar attempt to categorize some things as political and other things as not political. At Jesus time, this would have been complicated by two facts. The first is that the Jews probably answered this question differently than the occupying Romans. The second is that though they would have seen things as political they would not have placed much value on the idea of regular people actually participating in the political process.
I think that Jesus simply doesn’t buy into the way that any of us carve up the world. So much of Jesus wisdom is about discarding the old categories (externally clean vs externally dirty; Jew vs Gentile; king vs servant) and finding new categories to see the world. (the emeging kingdom of God; the pure of heart and reborn, etc.)
I think that dividing the world into political and not-political is one of these categories Jesus would have us discard. This does not mean that following Him won’t lead to decisions and actions on things that the world sees as political. This does not mean that he didn’t do things with profoundly political repurcussions.
It simply means that the fact that they are political is irrelevant.
It’s a bit like this: If I was a health food guru (people who know me realize how funny that idea is.) I may not accept Jewish expectations on food. I simply don’t buy that there is any reality reflected in the idea that some food is Kosher and other food is not.
I might be aware that I am suggesting that a certain practice violates kosher laws. But the category just doesn’t make sense to me, so I wouldn’t particularly care. It wouldn’t be my intent to offend those who think is a valid category. It might simply be that since I think we’re not bound by these rules (any more) that there is something greater at stake than tradition; I’d rather people be healthy than tradition bound.
Substitute politics in the paragraph above for the word “kosher”. As a follower of Jesus I might do, say, and believe things that the world sees as profoundly political. But as a follower of Jesus, I think I need to reject the whole view that certain things are political and other things are not. I ought to simply submit myself to his higher authority and do it, regardless of what the world calls it.
I will be so far from perfect in this. And I have side stepped some tremendous issues. How much we should force our views on others is huge. For example, if I believed that homosexuality was wrong, should I oppose gay marriage? Some how intwined in this is the equally huge question of how much should I get involved: should I vote? Should I engage in polticial discourse? Should I financially support candidates? Should I boycott? Should I protest?
My initial answer to all this is that Christians as a whole should be open to all these methods. But on a personal level I know how easily some of these activities could become idols, stumbling blocks for me. So I’m looking foreward to your comments on this issue. 😉