Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Jesus (Secret Messages)

Not that long ago I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who I love dearly but he got a little upset with me. We were actually "at church" and I was leading a discussion for a Highschool youth group. We were discussing how Jesus would fit into today's culture and really talking about he might would not "fit in" that much at all. Somehow the conversation went towards politics and I allowed the students to move forward with their comments as I personally was surprised by their willingness to speak about what they "believed" to be the right stance on issues. Most of their comments started with "my parents say..." Or "my dad says..." And even "if this... Then my dad's business would..." And I was amazed at their insight but most of it seemed disconnected from Jesus (which is how the conversation got started).

My friend approached me afterwards and told me that he didn't appreciate me bringing up politics "in church" and has always been told that politics is something that you should leave out of "preaching". Church is a place to talk about God and people, not politicians. Well, I can say that those words have stuck with me since then but have never really rested well.

I have recently started reading "The Secret Message of Jesus" by Brian MaClaren and the first chapter is entitled The Political Message of Jesus and it does a great job of painting a picture of the political "parties" of Jesus day (which there were by the way). McLaren then talks through the gospels and how each of Jesus teachings put him in the same sphere as some parties and completely against others. Only to find the next time he is recorded he is speaking in opposition to a party he was earlier thought to have been uplifting.

His point in this is that Jesus did not dance around political issues. Infact he spoke straight to heart of all of them. He seemed to do this with no concern for who was supporting (voting) or opposing him. The only thing He was concerned with was speaking of a better way to live. The way we were created to live. He spoke knowing that what he spoke of was the only way to experience a better way of life (or you could call it God's Kingdom).

This may not make much sense since most likely you haven't read the book. All I am really trying to say is this... I am currently more less inspired than ever to be a part of a known political party. I love our country, I love our president (God does too), I love the people of Uganda, I love the poor, I love the rich (God does too), and I love the less fortunate, and I want to be able to love those of Muslim Terrorist groups (because I know God does too). I am compelled to follow in the steps of Jesus and love because I was first loved regardless of situation, circumstance, or political party.

So in light of my conversation with my friend (which has been long resolved between us)... I believe if we as the church treat the gospel as something that just tells us to be nice to our siblings and do good in school then we neuter the very message that sent Christ to the cross. His Gospel carried both political and social implications. You can't say I am a forgiven sinner and hate your brother who has wronged you and you can't say I was a blind man that sees and not offer food to one who is Hungry. If the good news that Christ spoke of causes us to cross over political lines then we can't be afraid of that as followers of Him. It is those crossed lines that both won the hearts of his followers and angered others to put him on a cross. If we are following, should we look any different?

If you've read this far... thoughts???

I am searching to find the way of Jesus... the real message of Jesus... May God continue to guide...

Love and Peace,



Jason said...

I actually wrote about this in my own little blog (see "What Would Jesus Vote?"). Although I've tended to align myself with the Republican Party, I can see how a Christian might differ. I think there are things in both parties that seem very much in line with the gospel. I think voting has to be about weighing the two and deciding whose pros outweigh whose cons. That's all we can do in our system.

To me, the Gospel is about how we live and how it shapes everything we do. I worked with a guy who couldn't understand how I could mix faith and politics. I don't see how you can separate them. If I really am to be a slave to Christ, shouldn't I consider Him in everything I do and in what is correct to believe? It seems to me that when we choose the people who govern us and to whom the Bible mandates our submission (whether we voted for them or not) we'd better have a biblical mindset.

Anonymous said...

If you are to claim Christ, then you have no choice. A call to follow Christ is one of complete surrender. If that means discussing taboo issues "in church" then we must discuss them. How are we to distingish between those topics that are allowed within the church and those that aren't? The call of Christ, is an absolute call.

All things considered, there should be no questions about what can be discussed "in church." As a body these issues should be irrelavent. Our call is not to argue pety differences, it is to spread the grace and love of our great Savior.

Mike said...

Jason, I think you've got it right.

You stated:
"I think voting has to be about weighing the two and deciding whose pros outweigh whose cons. That's all we can do in our system."

I agree with the first part, but I don't think thats all we can or should do. This is something that has been bothering me recently. We as Christians are called to act in ways that reflect Christ's message. This includes fully embracing our politics with a Christian mindset. In addition, we should probably be writing our Senators and Represenatives letting our views on issues be known, and trying to effect change toward a more loving and peaceful world.

Hum, maybe you've inspired me to actually act on what I just wrote...

I was Reading over the Editorial Review from Publishers Weekly for the book "The Secret Message of Jesus" and found the following statement from it intriguing: "...we should take Jesus at his word when he says "the kingdom of God is here now," and work to assist that kingdom by being peacemakers and loving others." Looks like I may have to read the book...

jason said...

I agree with the "working to assist that kingdom by being peacemakers and loving others." whole-heartedly.

I guess ultimately the hard part is understnanding we want to ultimately bring peace but sometimes real love doesn't always make everyone happy. If it did Jesus wouldn't have been crucified.

I would have to agree with Mike... we must go where Jesus is leading. Standing-up for the mistreated, writing letters, playing the guitar, helping your neighbor could all be where Jesus is leading. My original post was somehow coming to terms with the fact that this may not always fit neatly into a specific political party.