In the wake of last night’s GOP debate, I reminisced about all the many voices that say Jesus voted Democrat, or Republican, or the Green party. Christians on both sides of the aisle attempt to “get Jesus on their side.” If they can convince people that Jesus would indeed vote for them, well, automatic votes.
Not so fast.
A couple of problems with that logic.
First, Jesus didn’t know a republic, and he certainly didn’t fare well in political processes. I suspect that both sides of the aisle might scoff at his political agenda. After all, he hung out with the poor, chilled with the religious elite, had a ragtag following, and collaboration was his forte. To put it simply, Jesus’s words are by no means easy to bear on liberal or conservative ears. They are tough words that no political state could ever embody.
Second, Jesus was more concerned with his fellow human beings than allegiance to a political party. Let’s examine the Debt Talks: Congresspersons were made to cave under party demands – forget personal conviction. In the end, the party wins out. Seems to me that Jesus would not be too keen on listening to some talking head, political junkie telling him what to do. It would suffocate attempts at a prophetic voice, a challenging word, and in the end bringing about the Kingdom of God.
Third, Jesus depended upon hospitality, not campaign contributions, to make his life-work feasible. Jesus would have looked at both sides, and asked about where the money was going? To vote a candidate into office? Seriously? Are those giving money to campaigns giving to organizations pursuing justice? While some certainly are, there are many that do not. Their own self-interest(s), their own protection is their investment. Caring for their fellow human beings is second on the list only to their own being.
In the end, there are parties that, at times, reflect elements of Jesus’s teachings. It is true, Democrats have, more often than not, reflected their teachings in their policies. But for those Christians that so fervently believe in the teachings of Jesus, do not use Jesus as a political endorsement. If his teachings are that powerful, don’t dilute them by aligning them with a political party. False hope is raised that some politician, some political party can actually reflect the teachings of this man.
Rather, we must engage our communities, and affect change within our own realms. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) reflects the remarkable power of community, not a political party. They reflect, however subtly, the subversive way of life Jesus lived. While they are not all Christian, and not all there because Jesus called them, we can still find that in the many faces, voices, and lives a common thread of powerful change. That is nothing less that the power of Jesus’ life.
OWS is not affiliated with any political party, but a common humanity calling for change. If this is not proof that people, not political parties can change the conversation I know of no other contemporary proof within American life.
Jesus is no political leader, but an inspiration for subversive, world-changing action. If we want to embody this, then we must stop finding political parties for Jesus to endorse, and start finding our common humanity. Whether on Wall Street or Main Street, there are lives to enhance, and a world to change.