It’s that time again. You know the time. The time when politicians stand on street corners and they kiss babies, hug old ladies, and make promises that they either won’t keep, can’t keep, or never wanted to keep. It’s the time when people begin to demonize someone of another political party. It’s the time when some will say if you don’t vote for this person you are not a Christian, all the while some are saying the same thing about another candidate. It’s the time when many who claim to follow Christ will spend too much time talking about politics and not practicing spiritual disciplines. Frankly, it’s the time when many who call themselves followers of Jesus end up sounding, looking, and acting like anything but Jesus. It’s the time when many, whether they acknowledge it or not, put their hope in a nation more than they do the Kingdom of God. But, this is not new!
In the Bible there is a scene in 1 Samuel 8 in which the Israelites want to be shaped like everyone else. All the other nations have kings and they want their own as well! They never say out loud that God is not enough, but it is the reality of their actions. God, through Samuel, tells them to trust Him, but they don’t. God gives them what they desire and not that long after the whole thing falls apart. From Saul, to David, to Solomon, and then to a split of the nation the whole thing falls apart. They got what they wanted and it ended up destroying the dreams they hoped for.
In Psalm 146, we see the writer of the Psalm (it is thought to be Ezra or Nehemiah) after the nation has fallen apart, after the have been exiled, after all their hopes and dreams that had rested in a person had failed. The writer then writes something that is different. The writer says that no longer is hope to be put in people, because only God is unfailing. If only we believed that. Jesus enters into the story and he is not just a man, but he is God in flesh.
Jesus tells of a different way. A way in which human political systems will eventually cower to a new kind of Kingdom. This is a Kingdom that will come in a way that the world has never seen. This Kingdom will come through sacrifice, through self-giving love. This Kingdom will come through death on a cross, not only that, but death will not have the last word. A resurrected Lord will have the last word. God is the King that cannot be surmounted. If only the church, those who say they follow Christ, would remember this.
Germany produced arguably the greatest theologians of the 20th century. Germany is also the place where theologians, pastors, and other believers began to justify the eradication of a whole people group. In 1939, these theologians established the Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Religious Life. The problem for those in Germany was that no longer were they seeking first His Kingdom, but their own. They had combined their Christianity with their patriotism and national pride. They began to see a Jesus who looked like a white German and not the Middle Eastern carpenter he was. (You can read more about this in the book “Aryan Jesus” if you would like.)
If we are not careful we will head down these same types of roads. If we are not careful we will be like the Israelites yelling for a king, when God was their King. If we are not careful we will make Jesus look like us, rather than trying for us to look like Jesus. We must remember the Psalmist who said God is the God who takes care of the foreigner, the widow, the orphan. We must remember that Jesus wasn’t concerned with national boundaries, he was concerned with people coming to find that the Good News had come, he was the good news! God comes to us and wants us to find life to the fullest. May those who claim to follow Jesus share this message more than we share any political conversation.