Jesus is not Republican

He isn’t.

Do you know how I know?

When he lived on this planet, he did not get involved with Roman politics or Israeli politics or run for Galilean office. In his ministry, he did not focus on politics or spend much of his infinite and divine energies fighting the Roman Empire or speaking to the powers of his day, even though he lived during a time when the Roman Empire ruled the Israelites with an iron fist.

Jesus wasn’t about political power

The Roman Empire didn’t exactly uphold human rights. They oppressed many of the lands they occupied, like Israel. Justice wasn’t abounding for those who weren’t citizens. Yet Jesus did not primarily come to address that, not even their oppressive taxing measures. We see that in this famous passage.

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22, The religious leaders tried to embroil Jesus in a charged issue of taxation, asking, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” And remember, Caesar had put severe taxation requirements on its satellite nations like Israel that put the IRS to shame, which even indebted many people. So when someone asked a question about taxes to Jesus, every ear turned to listen. How could they not? And his response surprised and baffled everyone with its brilliance.

He said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and God the things that are God’s.” His answer didn’t thwart the land’s law and affirmed the people’s need to stay devoted to God. It was apolitical. It was balanced.

And instead of pursuing political power, he spent his time with twelve obscure men, healing and teaching the poor, rejected, sick, and marginalized. He wasn’t about mobilizing a rebellion or implementing policies or getting votes—no. He was about his Father’s business.

Now you might be wondering, What’s your point? Good question.

Christians want political power

In the 2016 presidential election, 81% of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump. That says something about the state of Christians and Christianity and the church. I’m a Christian. So I’m not criticizing this faith. But there has been a large shift in how many are expressing beliefs. Christians are more political and more adamant and less open. That’s what I’ve seen in the media and data and even in my relationships with other Christians.

And that makes me wonder, Why are Christians so political, when Jesus was nothing of the sort?

If Christians were honest with themselves, they wouldn’t have a very good biblical reason—especially those who follow Trump. I understand the arguments for him. I am pro-life and see the allure of his political actions. And yes, he has put conservatives on the highest judicial bench in the land. But should we really support him simply for those reasons?

I don’t think so.

Why Christians shouldn’t support Trump

Here’s the reason: Christians are losing credibility and witness with people who don’t believe as we do. Isn’t that what Jesus commissioned us to do? To go and make disciples? But instead, we are alienating others. And why wouldn’t that happen? We are supporting a person who sows division, untruth, racism, discord, and lives in a manner that doesn’t align with Scripture. How could we not be discredited?

I’m not alone in this thinking. The former editor and chief of Christianity Today wrote an article stating that Christians needed to stop following Trump for at least the reason that we can’t truthfully say that we follow the God of love by our political affiliations. Too many have traded the Great Commission for a different agenda.

According to this article, Christians feel powerless and disrespected and unacknowledged, especially those in middle America. And many voted for Trump because he made promises to empower Christians with political power.

But there is one major problem with that.

Why Jesus really lived

Jesus had (and has) ultimate, infinite, all-consuming power, but he didn’t use it to gain significance or lord it over others. No. He used it to lift others up by lowering himself down.

The religious leaders turned him over to the Roman authorities. And Jesus submitted. The magistrates ordered him flogged, beaten, kicked, stripped, crucified, crushed, and killed. He was humiliated. He allowed a lessor power to overpower his unlimited power. He elected to be abandoned by his Father, as they had planned from the beginning of time. Even though he could lift himself off of the cross and wipe away all those who harmed him like gnats and save himself, he didn’t. He absorbed everything, even the judgment of his Father, for our sins.

Why?

Because he loves us, he wanted to save us from our sins, our unrighteousness, our rebellion, our failure to see his Great Commission. He didn’t seek power; he emptied himself of it to fulfill his Father’s plan and love humanity.

And because of that work, you have the living God within you. Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Triune God, would dwell within you. If that is so, how can you be powerless? And why would you need Trump to give you power? Your power is not one that is rooted on earth but is from Heaven.

The question is, What will you do with that power?

Photo credit: John Tyson

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Should We Defund the Police?

Defunding the police isn’t the right answer. It sounds good, but will work badly.

Before I proceed, know that I am for the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s right; it’s just. And I believe that law enforcement as a system and organization needs to be reformed, maybe even taken apart and restored piece by piece.

But I question the language that is being used now.

Defund the police” has been a battle cry in the protests. And I get it. Yes, police brutality is absolutely wrong and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

But to say we shouldn’t have police is something else entirely.

Complex problems can’t be solved with simple solutions. It’s easier to see problems than to solve them.

When I got married seeing that our marriage was screwed up was the easy part. It took years of work and conversations and working out my own junk and counseling and trust building to get our relationship to a healthier place.

If marriage is complex, race-based police brutality is even knottier. And if a broken marriage requires a multifaceted approach, what do you think this problem will require?

Or if you had some serious arteries blocked in your heart that’s a life threatening problem, but you would never tell a doctor to give you a heart transplant. That’s riskier than putting in stents, which is the typical procedure to save your life.

I could be wrong: But are we ripping out a heart by defunding our police? Is there a better way to incentivize officers to do the right thing and disincentivize racist unjust behavior? I think so.

For too long our justice system has protected officers, even the bad ones, killing blacks, using excess force.

But now the tide is changing. Justice is dawning.

Yet we still live in a world where break-ins happen. Murders happen. Carjackings, theft, assault, rape, stabbings, drug dealing, etc. do happen. What happens to those when the police get defunded?

Also, I wonder if we are equating police with slavery. Yes, does it perpetuate those power dynamics? Absolutely. That’s probably the reason the sentiment to abolish it has risen.

But as an institution, it is not inherently evil. It may be diseased, but it’s not lost. The intent of police, if it is to serve and protect everyone, is right. That means it needs to be corrected, or healed, not destroyed. It needs stents not a transplant. An amputation may even be necessary, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be killed.

There are no easy answers. I’m not saying we should not do anything radical. But we shouldn’t call for something radical without careful thought, a plan.

We want justice. We want someone to pay for the lives of all of these sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. And I pray that those who murdered George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless others feel justice’s swift gavel.

But, must we sacrifice law enforcement in the process?

I’m not saying that I know what a stent looks like in the heart of policing. My point is that before we rush into weighty conclusions we need to pause and think about what the consequences will be.

Because justice should not mean lawlessness.


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