It’s my hope that this blog post makes you uncomfortable if you claim to be a Christian in the US. Not because I want to be difficult or upset you so you can be upset. But rather, I hope it gives you pause to think about the role of faith and politics in your life – two subjects that cut to the very heart of most people’s identity.
Have you ever thought about what “Christian” politics might look like? Does it somehow sound an awful lot like one of the two major political parties in the US? If so, I’d say you’re doing it wrong. If you continue to vote for one political party all the time, post memes in support of that party’s rhetoric and candidates all the time, and can’t see the flaws of that party, what it stands for and its candidates – then I have to ask – is your faith really informing your politics? When did loyalty to party take precedence? Are you a Christian or political party activist?
As I’ve written before, I don’t think Jesus would identify with either the Democrat or Republican parties. They have their own agendas and if they can use Christianity to further those agendas, then they will use it.
This isn’t new of course. It’s been going on since Constantine co-opted Christianity in a effort to prop up the empire. And it has been going on ever since, regardless of the nation or empire.
But Christianity isn’t something that is used to prop up worldly powers. It’s something that changes the world.
Brian Zahnd posted a short section of his new book on his website regarding this topic. I’m going to quote some of the more powerful statements:
Jesus is not apolitical. Far from it. Jesus is intensely political! But Jesus has his own politics — and they cannot be made to serve the interests of some other political agenda. As Eugene Peterson says, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is more political than anyone imagines, but in a way that no one guesses.”
The politics of Jesus are set forth in the Sermon on the Mount — and neither the Republican nor the Democratic party have any intention of seriously adopting those politics! They simply cannot. The politics of the Sermon on the Mount are antithetical to the political interests of a military and economic superpower.
The problem with both the Christian Right and the Christian Left is that they reduce “Christian” to the diminished role of religious adjective in service to the all-important political noun. But as Karl Barth taught us, God cannot serve some other interest, God can only rule. …
and one more, which happens to be a good summation of the entire topic:
The church doesn’t need to enforce this revolution, the church only needs to live it.
We can sit around and complain. We can sit around and point out all the injustices of the world. We can sit around and cry about how the world doesn’t fit into Christendom way of thinking anymore (which arguably was a false way of living our Christianity anyway). We can point out the error of an opposing political view point and party. We can put our hopes and salvation in our politicians and their rhetoric and the political parties. We can rejoice when some piece of legislation is passed that enforces our way of thinking and believing or when a court makes a decision on some law and forces change. We can sit around and do all of these things, but frankly they are all passive. They are putting the responsibility for living out Christianity to someone else. It’s easy to say we don’t have the power to enact change because we aren’t elected officials. God help us if we do though.
Since when did government or politics become our salvation or such a focal point in life? Since when did we start to wait anxiously to hear the pronouncements of politicians and judges? How long are we going to allow our faith to be at the service of one political party or the other? Why do we willingly become mouthpieces and tools and fools for worldly powers? Why do we look forward to tearing down other Christians who differ with us politically?
We are called to something else. To live the ideal, not waiting for the right conditions to begin. We are called to live out our Christianity. What are we waiting for?