If you think that is a strange title, you’re right; circle the item that doesn’t belong in the picture…
Matthew’s continuing narrative, that we have just spent quite some time going through, is all about the Kingdom of Heaven and the mission of Jesus, and these two things are about as far from modern day politics as they could possibly be. Yet here in America, it is a presidential election year; the Super Bowl of American politics. I know that many of you are in other countries, and I have no idea if you have elections this year or not, but for most of you, if this isn’t a big political year, there will be such years coming along, so you might find this applicable where you are as well.
I’ve already seen news stories in which people are saying, either openly or by implication that if Jesus were here today, He would be a liberal Democrat. Naturally, I’ve also seen similar items claiming that Jesus would be a conservative Republican. Jesus would vote for Bernie! Jesus would vote for Donald!
“Yes, Jesus would be a liberal!”
“No way, He’d be a conservative!”
Funny thing is, both can take Jesus’ words from the Gospels to prove their contention. Well, they can prove their contentions as long as you don’t mind verses being taken out of their context.
Did we learn anything from Matthew? Have we ever learned anything from the New Testament at all? The Kingdom of Heaven is not of this world. Notice the contrast between His Kingdom that is NOT of this world, and modern day politics which ARE of this world. Dear reader, these two things are opposites! If you read through our discussion of Matthew, and before that, our discussions of Mark and John, you know that I pointed out many of the political forces at work in the story of Jesus, and surely you noticed that those political forces were always working in opposition to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Here’s another thing: Have you ever heard a liberal say that Jesus would be a conservative? Have you ever seen a conservative say that Jesus would be a liberal?
Not likely. You see dear reader, first we have our political opinions, and then we go looking for verses to “prove” that Jesus would agree with our views, and I hate to have to be the one to tell you this, but it just doesn’t work like that…
As far as politics and elections go, by all means let your conscience be your guide. But please don’t use (actually the word should abuse) the Scriptures to justify your choices or to influence the choices of others, for in doing so, you will very likely bring the Gospel into disrepute; Jesus did not bring a political message, but a message that transcends entirely the things of this corrupt world, and though we might find principles in His message that may influence us in our voting decisions, these kinds of personal, relational insights don’t translate well into political copy because political copy is read by a vastly larger audience filled with people who don’t quite understand what we trying to say. All that does is give people who disagree, an excuse to reject Jesus entirely for disagreeing with them about politics.
If that last statement of mine sounds crazy to you, think about it for a bit; it is very precisely worded and reflects where a whole lot of people live; people you might want to reach for the Gospel one day.