A short while back, I posted a piece about the methods people use to share their rightly-deserved and varied political and moral beliefs. Initially, I wasn’t trying to state a political opinion, but was merely trying to vent my frustration at seeing my own children’s reaction to the bloody bodies of little babies alongside a road. So, I was struck by surprise at the firestorm that ensued from my little rant.
Thankfully, many of you responded with comments and emails to share your take on the rights and wrongs of the methods. Others ventured down the road of whether the beliefs were accurate or justified. Some even called into question my qualifications as a mother and doubted that I was a Christian, even praying that I was not truly a pastor’s wife (something I actually found quite hilarious). A few responding were non-believers, but most were people who espoused Christian beliefs at one level or another.
As I went through all of comments, my thoughts began to twirl and twist, and soon a question loomed into view: Political action. Social justice. Would Jesus get all worked up in a tizzy about this? I just don’t think so.
Often, Christians latch onto one idea in scripture and cling to it as though their entire life depended on it. Abortion. Gay Rights. Welfare. Homelessness. Anti-War. War. Holiness. Taxes. Theology. All of these are valid issues to find a stance on, but the challenge is how to communicate that stance.
cleaning house and taking names
Sadly, I find that many Christians promoting rigid political/social ideology use the story of Jesus clearing the temple of shopkeepers to mirror their radical methodology. More than once, I’ve heard people state that Christ’s righteous anger in this story justifies their own brutish, harsh actions.
But, Jesus wasn’t politically, or even socially, motivated. He was solely driven by reaching people and setting their lives free from a tyranny of pain and darkness. That day in the temple, as He swept through the people, clearing out the corrupt clergy and life-sucking profiteers, His motive wasn’t political or economic change; He merely wanted to clear the path so people could find God. He was enraged. He did knock over tables and throw the temple entry into a state of complete chaos. But, He was passionate because people were overwhelmed with a barrage of distracting, political, economic and cultural crap, blocking the clear route to God. Pure and simple.
teachings of Jesus. expiration 215 AD
Nowhere in the scriptures can I find Jesus encouraging people to promote huge system change. In fact, I see where He encourages slaves to be good to their masters, and masters to be good to their slaves. He encourages men (in a male-dominated society) to be loving to their wives, and women to be good helpers and maintain their peace.
Was He pro-chauvinism? Was He pro-slavery? Absolutely not! All of the principles He taught filled humanity with the promise of equality and the hope of restoration. However, He encouraged people to live appropriately in the culture and life in which they found themselves. By embracing these teaching, in time, the culture and life would shift and equality would be found and restoration realized.
There were plenty of opportunities for Jesus to focus his life on politics: slavery, foreign occupation, racial and gender equality, and more. Had Jesus anchored His life teachings on cultural or political causes, He would have placed an expiration date on His ministry; his influence and teachings would have become irrelevant once these issues were overcome. Once foreign occupation ended, so would have the cause of Christianity. With the rise of equal opportunity, would have come the decline of His teachings.
Instead, Jesus focused His entire life on timeless principles that pertained to all generations of all cultures. He taught us to live lives that honored people, wherever they were and however they believed. He taught that we should care about the poor and fatherless, “who you will have with you always”. He taught to seek a life that pursued God and was dedicated to honor him.
Considering the fact that the Old Testament clearly establishes guidelines about the value of life and how we should live it, in light of the fact that the New Testament clearly establishes that our intent and motive should be to pursue Christ and not cause division, again I ask…
What would Jesus do? (Ugh! I hate how cliche that is.) But, seriously… would Jesus be a political activist?