Jesus was not concerned with the politics of his day. It was way outside of his radar screen.
Christ lived under one of the most oppressive empires. He lived in a territory and with a people that despised the Roman Empire and dreamed of a messiah that would rid them of their gentile rulers. For the 33 years that Christ dwelt in the land only half the people that lived there were Jews.
It could be argued that there was more happening in the realm of politics in the time of Christ, than we have happening in the United States today.
Some of the religious groups of the day made their political ploys under the Romans. Some used it to their advantage while others resisted.
Within Israel were the Pharisees that emphasized the Jewish traditions and practices that set them apart from the pagans. The Sadducees which found distinct advantages to Roman rule and the influence of fashion and manners of the Greco-Roman culture. They comprised the aristocracy of Israel and had little to do with the common man. (Church History, Shelley 1927)
There were also the Zealots that were the terrorist of the day hell bent on armed resistance to the Romans in the fatherland. Also the Essenes who had no interest in politics and retreated to the Judean wilderness. (Church History, Shelley 1927)
Jesus had much to say to the religious leaders of the day, but not so much to say to Rome and it's Caesar. In the Book of Mark the leaders try to trip him up in a political web and Christ's response is simple:
- Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 12:15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.
- 16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's. 17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him
Straight to the point. And I marvel at Him as well. The questions continued fly throughout the chapter.
Jesus was not there to engage in the politics of the current government, as He was about the task of doing the tough business of putting you and I and all of creation back into relationship with the Creator. It doesn't mean that He was disconnected or unaware, but He was fully aware that the matters of government will one day seem small and insignificant and there was a much greater task at hand.
He did not escape the issues of politics within his own camp as we can see in scripture that the
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Look at his approach. He takes them back to the task at hand, one they are not qualified for, and then he gives them a definition of greatness, "you must be a servant".
The politics of Christ are clear. He was and is about the business of redemption. A new law, a new organization, a new czar, a new program, or a new fund does not brings a man closer to the saving truth of Christ. We and our institutions live anxiously in this day in age. This is a sin. The Bible tells us not to fear the schemes of men...fear God...this is the beginning of wisdom.
I wish American Christians would put as much effort into serving as we have in vocalizing our hate and distrust of a man who will only be president for a short time and who will one day die just like the rest of us. Do we really think one man is so powerful?
Now, in a conversation with my father on politics, he took my responses as apathy. When I look at my children I wonder about the world in which they will be adults and I most certainly have an opinion about heath care, bigger government, etc., but I am more concerned about their eternal destiny and their understanding and living out the scriptures. This is what Christ came for, died for, and is living for today. He wants us to know Him and make Him know, as is the banner of the church I visit on Sundays.
We have more problems in our church institutions than we ever had in Washington, and we are unwilling to make any sweeping changes there. If it were a vote, I'd be calling for the replacement of 99.9% of pastors today and have them replaced with tentmaker pastors with no institutional affiliations. I guess that would have me voting for the independents.
The leaders of Modern American Christendom can't get 80% of their congregations to give to others, can't keep over 50% committed to their spouse, can't get 80% of them to train up their children in the Truth, have watched their attendance decline between 5-10%, and have condemned the world with boycotts and banners of hate instead of showing the love of Christ. They make empty promises that scripture doesn't even support and fail to tell people that being a Christian is the hardest thing in the world to do well and that by our choice to follow Christ it will bring all kinds of trouble to our lives.
How do we fire these people? They are much more dangerous than Senators. Institutional Christianity has failed and they don't even know it yet. Look to Europe and you''ll see the fate of the institutions
But the faith of the follower of Christ is sealed as well. Eternity with Him - to work, serve, live, laugh, praise, love, and fellowship with Him and our brothers and sisters. This is what Christ wanted for ALL. This was his focus. Not the latest dictate from Tiberius. Imagine the oppression of the day, yet it was not the focus of the Messiah.
You have a vote. Use it. You have an opinion. Share it constructively. You have a faith. Live it. Shake the anger of the latest political ploy. Shake the staleness of institutional Christianity. Live the life of Christ in your daily place and share the news that surpasses anything in the New York Times.
No I am not impressed with the new law of the land, and yes I will use my vote to bring about change, but I also know there are greater concerns at hand. Have you not heard the words from the old hymn, "Kings and kingdoms will ALL pass away, but there's something about that name." There's the future of the United States. Tough to reconcile isn't it?
The great Roman Empire and it's centuries of rule ended in a fizzle. There are few politicians that read their history books, so they are doomed to repeat the same mistakes of the Roman Senators. Does this surprise you? The masses always vote for people that will give them a raise. Why so chagrin when this is woven into the fabric of the history of the world.
Jesus was focused on greater things and as "Christians" we are to bear His yoke. That would make his tasks, our tasks. That which is important to him, should be important to us.
We so miss the mark on our tasks. Instead of loving the pregnant teenager down the street and trying to help meet her needs so she may consider keeping her child, we picket outside an abortion clinic. Worse we sit at the dinner table and do nothing and say, "Isn't that a shame."
Instead of giving over 10% each month to help a friend pay his medical bills, we put it in an envelope and pay for the electrical bills of an overstaffed building. Instead of telling our closest friends about the love of Christ, we stay silent and hope they'll come to know Him by watching us. Instead of attempting to live out the Gospel in our work, we are resigned that there is some separation between God and our labor.
There's much to do in the "love" realm. With a violently executed concern for others in your life, the things on Fox News will appear quite insignificant.
Christ did not come to ensure I had two cars and a home. He came to ensure I had a choice that included the option of life.
So, I too catch myself sometimes wanting to throw tea into the harbor, pick up my gun and storm Washington, fire my representatives, scream foul, but then the Spirit of God tells me to relax, trust Him, and leave the details of politics in his able hands and the vote in which he has given me. Then He reminds me that I am to go into all the world, making disciples of all men, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He reminds me that His promises did not include preserving my ideas of government, but did include saving my life. In this way, He is the greatest provider of health insurance.