The Christian’s relationship with politics

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Christianity is both intensely political and apolitical.

The Gospels and early Christians loudly proclaimed the very political opinion that “Jesus is Lord,” a direct contradiction and parody of the Roman slogan “Caesar is Lord.”

Yet when several people tried to corner Jesus into making an overtly political statement regarding paying taxes to Caesar, Jesus demurred and redirected the conversation.

The clear implication is, as Christ himself said, that his kingdom is not of this world, and as such it is a threat and counter to all worldly forms of government.  No government, no leader, no group of people exerting power over others has any ultimate authority – Jesus is the only Lord.

Christ obviously did not preach violent revolution, much to the chagrin of several of his would-be followers.  Zealots wanted an armed rebellion against the Roman oppression, yet Jesus avoided specifically and directly antagonizing Rome, even though he was later killed under the pretense of being a threat to Roman rule.

Jesus understood that empires, kingdoms, republics, democracies, all governments rise and fall.  They are all fleeting.  He struck at the root from which all such entities grow, that of a legitimacy above any temporal authority.

They’re all a passing thought that ideally should operate for the good of a group of people before they come to an end.

Because his kingdom is not of this world, Jesus’ kingdom likewise does not operate like earthly governments.  Those governments seek to impose law and order through power, whereas Christ comes in humility to serve and change the hearts of those who are enticed by him.

Jesus operates through love, and love does not coerce or mandate conformity – it asks for conformity only after a heart has freely chosen to follow.

Christians thus operate outside of Christ’s example when they seek to impose their morality on those who disagree with them.  The Christian’s role is to attract others to Jesus’ message, not make it illegal to live otherwise.

Christians, above all people, should find themselves to be largely non-partisan.  We should not be drinking the Kool-Aid any government or group of people outside of the Church is trying to pour down our throats.

We are partisans for Christ, and Christ doesn’t belong to a political party or political ideology.  Political opinion is fine, but political zealotry seems all too reminiscent of another form of zealotry which Jesus definitively opposed.

Scripture is, however, replete with examples of what God expects his people to care about, and these issues – though many want to align them with a particular contemporary form of politics – are far older and far above any modern sensibilities.

The Old Testament is clear in stating God’s preference for the nation he designed, Israel, to care for the poor, the aliens, the widows, the orphans at a societal level.  The New Testament carries both themes, as well, in advocacy for caring for all who are in need by the Church.

Clear parallels are drawn between Israel caring for aliens because they themselves were once aliens and outcasts after the exodus from Egypt.

The year of Jubilee was to be a regular occurrence in which all debts were to be forgiven.

For the Christian, none of these issues are supposed to be partisan.  Neither is our commitment to Christ to be affected by what our political opinions may or may not be.

Christ alone is the source of our devotion.

Jesus is Lord.  Caesar – the Constitution, Congress, the President, nor any other earthly form – is not.

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