In Shane Claiborne’s most recent post on God’s Politics he tells a story that I thought was especially relevant and thought stirring. He touches on the concept of Jubilee, a Biblical celebration discussed in Leviticus 25 in which there is a redistribution of land and cancellation of debts. It’s a celebration that is had for the marginalized of a given society; a chance for people to be freed from their financial bondage and remember that ultimately, YHWH is the owner of all earthy possessions. This video is a glimpse of what it may look like today:
With the upcoming election happening in less than a month I can’t help but post something on the topic. I have been reading Jim Wallis’ God’s Politics: Why the Right is Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It. Earlier this year I read Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw’s Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals. As a result, I’ve gained some new insights that I would like to share as well as some insights of my own:
- God is not a Republican or a Democrat. Contrary to popular belief, this is indeed the Biblical truth. Although the Republicans, over the last few decades, have somehow claimed the exclusive right to Christian spirituality (albeit a muddled version of it), there are “religious” and “moral” issues on both sides of the spectrum.
- The church is a counter-cultural voice in a world that puts everything into the two extremes of left and right. The politics of Jesus turned the world upside down. People must have been amazed to hear teachings like, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, “Turn the other cheek”, and “Do not resist an evil person.” And then there are Jesus’ economic policies of Jubilee which seem to be especially foreign in a country that promotes the rich and oppresses the poor. These politics do not fit into the traditional “liberal” or “conservative” ideologies. As members of the church we are to devote ourselves to the teachings of the Slaughtered Lamb, not the teachings of the Elephants or Donkeys.
- This November we are voting for a President, not a Messiah. In a country that upholds the belief that ultimate change happens through D.C. alone, this truth can be easy to forget. We can choose to vote for either candidate, knowing that that particular candidate will not change the world in the way that Jesus came to do so. Taking this truth into account, we need not withdraw from voting simply because “neither one matches up to the politics of Jesus.” Although this is true, we should recognize that the reason we are voting is not to advance the Kingdom of God through the president. Only the church, under the power and authority of the Holy Spirit, can do this.
- Protest is good. Advocating an alternative is better. Complaining about how the government goes about doing things doesn’t help anyone or solve any problems. If we disagree with the actions of the “Religious Right” over the last eight years then we are to take that protest to the voting booth. Let us be the change we want to see in the world.
- As Christians, we do not vote in a way that merely promotes our own well being or even our own country’s. We must vote in a way that takes everyone into account, for we are all God’s children. The beautiful thing about the Good News of Christ is that it embodies itself in love. As we grow in our relationship with Jesus our love for people grows as well. We must care for people, especially the poor and marginalized. It is also important to remember that we are apart of the global church. The bride of Christ is something that transcends national boarders and our ultimate allegiance lies with the church…not America. We must not forget about our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Japan, or Mexico. These truths should significantly impact the way we vote.
- God is not pro-war. The teachings of Jesus clearly indicate otherwise. The Sermon on the Mount makes it unbelievably clear: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” The foreign policy of the Bush administration has been one of American imperialism, preemptive war, and unilateralism and has led to the death of almost 100,000 innocent Iraqi people. Any theology that supports such action is a bad one, to put it lightly.
- God is not pro-rich. In fact, he’s quite the opposite. May we not forget that the Kingdom belongs to the least of these. Beside idolatry, poverty is the most talked about issue in Scripture. We have been commanded to care for the poor and we must take them into account when we vote.
- God is not a selective moralist. Homosexuality and abortion are religious issues. But so are war, poverty, how we spend our money as a nation, torture, racism, etc. How did the two issues mentioned above end up being the only issues considered in a debate concerning morality?
May we go into this election prayerfully and thoughtfully, never releasing our gaze from the King of kings and our true Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ.