God's Politics

Becky GarrisonAs we gear up for the upcoming presidential election battles, once again Sojourners reminded me that God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat. In lieu of the plethora of partisan propaganda I often receive from both the Religious Right and the progressive left, I welcome their biblically based voting guide that outlines the Christian principles on a range of social issues.

Even though I want to cast my vote for God’s Politics, I have to ask myself, could our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ever be considered a viable candidate for public office?

The answer is, alas, a resounding, “No.”

According to conventional political wisdom, casting a vote for Christ would be akin to going green in 2000. For starters, the Sermon on the Mount speech (see Matthew 5-7) would lose the Soccer Mom, the NASCAR dad, and whatever other idealized demographic pollsters have determined must be placated in order for a candidate to procure their political prize.

Then you have the touchy subject of Jesus’ entourage, a group consisting of tax collectors, fishermen, and a host of undesirables. (Can you just picture all the Christian conspiracy books blasting the behavior of Jesus’ cabinet, as well as his scandalous encounters with unsavory women?)

Let’s not forget Jesus’ temple-turning tirade. How can a political party sponsor a candidate who can’t even be trusted to go to a fundraising event and behave in front of those all-important special-interest groups who are needed to finance the cost of mounting a political campaign? Besides, Jesus doesn’t even own the right Armani suit and tie needed to gain entrance into all the right clubs.

While today’s politicos are obsessed with advancing their own agenda, as Brian McLaren notes in A Generous Orthodoxy, Jesus didn’t overturn the tables “so that all the wrongs could be excluded.” No. Jesus turned the tables and scattered the doves and coins so that the temple could once again become a house of prayer for all nations – an inclusive place that welcomes all into the transforming mystery of prayer and worship, not only the “already right” or the “rich in spirit.”

This idea may be seen as radical to those who feel that the kingdom of God should be open only to a privileged few. But this radical rule-breaker and love-maker broke down all race and class barriers, bringing together into one body of believers such diverse individuals as tax collectors, fishermen, and prostitutes. Throughout his ministry, Jesus ignored conventional wisdom by healing on the Sabbath, treating women as equals, and celebrating “the least of these.” By following this way of life, the risen Christ and his followers transformed the world.

The challenge I present for us as Christians is to do likewise.

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