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September 4, 2011

It’s Sunday SUNDAY Sundayyyyyyyyyy  which today means, instead of church or perhaps a demolition derby at the civic center, I’m at work.  Which therefore means I am sitting around writing on here.

A perfect example of why I love my church: a few weeks ago–a message about politics, that didn’t include a thinly veiled “vote for this or that person”

You only get a few responses when you talk about Jesus and politics in America.  One is: Jesus didn’t care about politics.  Another is, Jesus is a republican.  And most politicians will simply say, Jesus agrees with me.

So it was kind of exciting, hearing someone I trust talk about the politics of Jesus.  Because getting into the truth of it is a touchy subject to say the least.

And the truth probably ruffles a few feathers: my personal opinion is, if he was anything at all, he was a socialist.  He believed in the value of the individual, and believed that if people are sick or hungry or lonely or in need in this world, it is the responsibility of anyone and everyone to remedy that.

Of course, that doesn’t totally cover it.  Israel at that time was occupied by a foreign power and had been for a very long time.  Differing opinions about how to deal with this reality defined the political parties of the day.  There were people who wanted to cooperate with the Romans; others wanted to isolate themselves, others thought all their misfortunes were punishment from God because they didn’t follow the law strictly enough, and still others just wanted to kill as many Romans as they possibly could.

That last group wasn’t really a fringe party either.  They were basically terrorists by our standards.  In fact, Paul, the guy who wrote a huge chunk of the bible, was one of these people.  The bible records him being present at a stoning (where a bunch of angry people drop heavy rocks on someone they don’t like until they are dead).

So you have these four political parties, and it’s been sorta the same structure for a long time.  Then Jesus comes on to the scene and people expect him to pick one of these four parties to align with, so they’ll know the ‘right’ one, and of course he doesn’t.  He keeps saying the same things over and over for three years: serve others, pray for those that hate you, stay committed to your wife/husband, give what you can to others, don’t be a phony, submit to the government.  Even though he’s pretty much a political leader, these things either 1) don’t appear to have much to do with politics, or 2) don’t make him very politically popular.  And he keeps talking about this thing called ‘the kingdom’.  He always says “seek first the kingdom.”

The clearest description of ‘the kingdom’ is, the way God wants the world to be.  And his heart is so clearly on the side of the poor and needy.  He says, don’t worry about your own food or clothes or any of your own necessities.  But if other people lack any of those things, make it your responsibility.  So I guess the closest parallel we would have is socialism, but he places the responsibility on us, not just on our government.

That’s an important lesson for politicians too, particularly in America:  A politician is also a citizen.  The same directive that causes us to give a hungry person five bucks to get a meal, should compel a politician to use his power to do the same on a larger scale.  Jesus said that even he “did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.”

I guess that’s what sickens me most about American politics.  Did you know it costs about a million dollars to take Air Force One on a five hour flight?  I don’t begrudge anyone having a jet if they really want one, but it’s not really his jet: no one is important enough to do that with other people’s money.  But that’s the situation we’re in; that’s why people want to get elected.  So they can make the people buy them jets and stadiums and bribes and perks and power.

So, something’s gotta give.  People have been disinterested and disillusioned for so long that the state of our politics doesn’t reflect the state of ourselves.  I really feel like the average person in America is a compassionate, rational person that wants to do good.  But at this point there are no more politicians, at least at the national level, that remind us of ourselves.  And I don’t want to cop out and just give up voting and participating altogether, but I certainly don’t want to vote for someone just because he’s the ‘least bad’ choice.  I’ve seen the result of that.  I need wisdom.

The next few years will be interesting, to say the least.

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