Oh, it is that time of year again that we all dread and yet can’t seem to divert our eyes from… Election season! Wooohoooo (sense the sarcasm?) It is the time of year for us to put our hopes in our political party, to dream of a brighter future in Washington and Topeka, as new candidates promise to solve all our problems. Thank goodness everything will soon be fixed…
Or maybe it won’t? As a country and, more dangerously, as the church we have become adherents to “state-ism.” We believe that the government, if run properly, by the right people, will solve all our problems. We worship at the throne of politics, loving our party while despising the “other.”
In the church, we see this problem rear its head when both sides argue that Jesus would support them and their party. “Jesus is pro-life” or “Jesus is for social justice.” We tend to want Jesus to lead our political party, to promote our political agenda.
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Jews of Jesus’ day had political ambitions as well. They believed the coming Messiah would throw of the chains of oppression the Romans placed on them. The Messiah would lead the revolution and re-establish the kingdom of Israel. I guess you could say the Messiah would, “Make Israel Great Again.” Into this context, Jesus takes five loaves of bread, two fish, and feeds 5,000 people. (John 6:1-13)
After this incredible sign, the crowd said to one another, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world.” (v. 14) They see that the Messiah has come. He is going to lead them to all their political dreams!
But Jesus, of course, will have none of it. “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” (v.15) Jesus will not be the king that we expect from him. As he tells Pilate while on trial in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from this world.” Jesus refuses to conform to our political agenda. Jesus is never a means to an end; he is the end.
Jesus is not a king who builds himself up, he is one who serves (John 13; Mark 10:45). Jesus is not a king who looks to enrich the already rich, but is aligned with the least of these, the poor and outcast (Mark 2:17; Luke 16:19-31). He is a king that doesn’t reside in a palace in comfort, but had no place to lay his head and suffered. (Luke 9:58) He looks nothing like what power looks like in our world, his leadership is not like ours. He is the servant-king, leading with a towel and not the sword.
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We have a king who, “has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3) We don’t need more than Jesus, and let us not ask for more than him. I’m not going to say which side to vote for this fall, who is best or anything like that. What I would call on Christians to do is put their faith, their trust, in someone better than a political leader.