The Politics of Jesus

As we enter into 2016 the national political races are continuing to heat up with primaries and the general election on the way. There have been plenty of debates, ads and arguing over issues already and I’m sure it will continue into the New Year.

This year has been filled with state bans against refugees and attempts to pass discriminatory laws. The argument continues in our state capital with little regard for the actual values of Jesus. Even within the national conversation for president, there tends to be a lot of assumptions made about what it means to be a Christian and a especially a Christian candidate for president.

It seems like the Christian faith of all the presidential candidates is simply assumed with little to no conversation about the values of Jesus. I realize that it’s hard to imagine what the first century, poor, Jewish Nazarite would think about our 21st century political climate, but it does seem like the values we derive from Scripture are far from our current political debates.

When there are calls to ban all Muslims from the United States or to kill entire families of those we name terrorists or to deport entire families from our nation with no regard to grace or mercy, then we have lost our way.

I don’t believe the values of Jesus are found in any political party or any particular candidate. As a person of faith, I have to look for those willing to act and govern with love, mercy and grace. Should we include Jesus’ call to love our enemies? To turn the other cheek? To care for the poor? To welcome the stranger? If we include these values then we’ll be looking for candidates to lead for a long time.

Too often we act like Islam itself is a threat to the United States when our nation has been strengthened by the contribution of our Muslim brothers and sisters. The same can be said of immigrants or any other group we wish to label. The hard truth that we really don’t want to see as a nation is that none of these groups, political parties or religions are our enemy, instead, we are our greatest enemy. When we allow the values of divisive, polarizing and angry rhetoric of politics rule our day, then we have become our own worst enemy.

The politics of Jesus call us back to love, grace and mercy. Within political debate? Yes. Within governing? Yes. Within the way we handle terrorism or immigration or handling anyone who might be labeled “different”? Yes, yes and yes. Anything else is just plain politics, not the way of Jesus.

I once heard a Catholic monk say, “How do we know we’re following Jesus? One word: love. Does it sound like love? Our thoughts, words and actions, do they sound like love?”

Perhaps this is the same question we should be asking during this political season; does it sound like love? Do our conversations around political issues sound like love? Does our nation’s foreign or domestic policy sound like love?

If we desire to follow the politics of Jesus, then maybe the only real question we should be asking is “Does it sound like love?”

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