Stuff Christians Need to Stop Saying #7

February 21, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

So you have a franchise that is doing OK, you’ve cranked out a few in the series, it’s losing it’s luster a little, so you decide to retool.  It’s been done before to varying degrees of success.  You can change the actor playing the main character–James Bond, multiple times to varying degrees of success.  You can just wait a long time, change very little and hope that bringing the characters back is enough–Superman Returns, not very successful.  You can do it on the 2nd movie where you essentially remake the first one with minimal changes and leave everyone going “What?”–The Hulk.

But the way it has been done the best in recent years is with the Batman franchise.  They made it a little darker, more serious, more action drama, less comic book campy.  It was risky, but it worked well.  They pushed it further with Dark Knight and it worked.  Where does it go from here?  We’ll see.

Here in this series, let’s keep pushing until someone cries uncle.

Set-up:  You are in a political discussion/debate/argument and you are looking to close the deal on your inevitable victory.  Someone challenges you.

Response:  Jesus was/is a ________ (Insert your political position here)

Boom!  Game over!  You are the winner.  You played the Jesus card and, of course, Jesus agrees with you (why wouldn’t he?) and you win.  All of the complexities of political arguments and issues have been annihilated by claiming that Jesus would and does agree with you.

You will notice that I have not accused one political party or philosophy over another.  That is because Christians of all political stripes do this.  The question of why people do this is pretty evident.  It bolsters their argument.  The question of how they do it is actually a little troubling.  We go to the Bible with our pre-determined political ideas and preconceived notions and find something that we like and declare victory. 

We find a verse that says “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’” (2 Thess3:10) Or conversely, we find, “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” (Luke 6:30)  Then through whichever one of those verses we like, we construct “Biblically centered” political policy.  I’m sorry, but that is intellectually dishonest and lazy.

We reduce Jesus, who was the Son of God, into a caricature of our favorite political statesman.  I’m sorry, but the totality of Jesus’s political statements may simply be “pay your taxes.”  I know that you might feel like there are more and I may back down a little if you show them to me.  However, Jesus lived in an oppressive dictatorship and didn’t speak out against the government of his day.  His followers, with their conception of what the Messiah was, expected him to be a leader to overthrow the government and he still chose not to speak out.

He was such a political revolutionary that the Roman governor had no idea who he was.  Jesus spoke to the religious establishment of his day and to individual people.  He was a threat to the religious leaders of his day and individuals that would listen to his message.  The same is true today.  If we are followers of Christ, his words challenge us and need to shape our character.  If we are not, we need to listen to what he says and find life with God through him.

As far as how this shapes our politics, let’s go this way.  Let’s read the Bible, let’s pray.  Let’s be consistently asking God what he values and what he cares about.  Let’s ask him how and when and to what extent we should get involved.  Let God shape us, instead of taking what we want and believe and then cramming God’s Word and Jesus himself into a premade box of 21st century political philosophies and political parties.

His values drive our values, not the other way around.  Or do you somehow think that tops on God’s priority list is whether or not the freedom of speech granted in the Bill of Rights extends to corporations and their ability to influence political campaigns with money?


9 Responses to “Stuff Christians Need to Stop Saying #7”
  1. Megan says:

    This is a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

  2. Larry says:

    Well said. This has become a particular pet peeve of mine in the past few years. The truth is that Jesus cared about people, and He was basically apolitical (much to his disciples initial disappointment). Biblical ideals are expressed by various positions in both parties, and a great many non-political positions as well. God is not a republican or a democrat – a capitalist or a socialist. He is Almighty God. Politics is the business of man – not of God. A person’s political affiliation has nothing to do with their faith or lack thereof.

    We are citizens of the Kingdom of heaven, simply passing through on our way home, doing good works in God’s name on the way. Everything else is just noise.

  3. Leah says:

    Well said, Charlie! I second Larry’s sentiments…

  4. Gabe says:

    Finally. I’ve been saying this to some of my “politically savvy” friends that pull the Jesus card all the time. I definitely agree with you here.

  5. Jen Loftin says:

    I am shocked by this post, actually. I have never heard a person say Jesus is a (insert political party here). But if it goes on well then it should stop. God tried to convince Israel to be a Theocracy I thought.

  6. Chris says:

    So…we Christians need not dirty our hands in the mess of political issues? Politics is the realm of man and not God- so God has no part in the matter? It seems to me that this argument too often breaks down into a sort of political moral relativism- a sort of “who’s to say what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to political matters?” And throw in a Rodney King-esque “Can’t we all just get along?” So, Christians can have a viewpoint – and even express it. But when it comes to the point that a fuss starts being made- well then we better pipe down- after all, in the grand scheme of things- eternally- is it really that important? So let’s not make unneccessary waves… So the people who persist and eventually win the day are those who DON’T care about God’s perspective. And those are the people who should decide for a local, state, or nationial government what does and does not happen?

    Like it or not we don’t live in Roman occupied Palestine in the first century AD. We live in a constitutional, representative republic- founded by Godly, courageous men and women who risked everything, fought, and died that we might chart our own course in life, living in and taking full opportunity of the God-given freedoms we possess by virtue of our mere existence in His image. Those freedoms have allowed the US to become not only the greatest economic and military power the world has ever known, but also the greatest missionary-sending nation and provider of aid in the name of God and human decency – both of which DO have significant eternal impact. So while we guard this stewardship of freedom, we protect something, I believe, very precious and worth fighting for. Even if it makes us unpopular. To do anything less than to seek to understand the implications of political issues, try to gain a Biblical perspective on them, and then defend and attempt to advance those positions that are both expedient to the cause of Christ and Constitutionally (and therefore legally) permissable is negligence and an abdication of our God-given responsibilities.

    How’s THAT for controversial, Charlie?? LOL

  7. Clay says:

    Well done Chris.

  8. cloften says:

    Well done Chris, indeed.

    Some questions for the Christian political activists out there:

    1)Where does our hope truly lie? In a political party? If ________ could get elected, our country will have hope. If the _________ party can keep/regain Congress, then we will do well. How does the message of Romans 13 compare to the great anxiety we feel when “we” lose?

    2)Is God preferential to one political party over another? Does God’s light shine brighter on one party over the other? Does one party encapsulate what the Bible teaches? If not, then why would we so strongly align ourselves with that party and then proclaim that most Christians are/should be _______?

    3) If a Christian were to get involved with politics heavily, should he/she be a humble servant or angry prophet or both depending on the time and issue?

    4) Is the Bible a weapon in political debates? Do we do a disservice to claim the Bible supports an issue clearly when it is typically more complex than, “read this one verse here?”

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