While politics seeks to find common ground, faith in Christ reaches for higher ground.
At the risk of sounding like I’m contradicting myself, I do believe there was a definite political dimension to Jesus and his public ministry. In fact, I think his political views permeated everything he said and did, and nothing he said clarifies that more than what we call his beatitudes in which he talks about the poverty of spirit, meekness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, peace, and persecution.
I dare anyone ”Democrat, Republican, Green or Independent ”to make that the center of one’s campaign strategy and see how far they can go with it. Yet, it was with this emphasis, both in what he said and in what he did, that Jesus confronted not only the authorities in Jerusalem but the mighty forces of Rome.
The Bible is political. Think about this now. If you were to try and determine one, single underlying theme found in all of scripture, what would it be? May I offer a suggestion? The Bible tells the story of God’s desire for a different kind of world than presently exists in any generation or culture.
God sought a different world from the one in which Noah lived so he created the flood. God wanted to raise up a people who would do his will, so he called Abraham out of the land of his fathers to be the father of a new nation. Years later, when the children of Abraham, now called the Hebrews, divided into two nations, God brought them back together under David’s leadership. When they became adulterous and went after other gods, they were taken into exile. And when they were placed under the thumb of the Roman caesar, God decided to come in human flesh.
God has always had a passion for a different kind of world. What kind of world do you think God wants? We get some insight from the prophet Isaiah…
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion…
Does that sound familiar? It should, of course, because Jesus quoted these words time and time again during his (Dare I say it? Yes, I will say it.) during his campaign.
So we ask the question again. What kind of world does God want? It is a world in which everyone ”regardless of color or culture or religious beliefs or political persuasion ”has enough on which to live … enough food, enough shelter, enough safety and peace, so they have the potential for accepting God’s good news of grace.
My friend and colleague, Ray Higgins, and I recently flew to Dallas for a meeting on world hunger. Once again, I had one of those experiences which proves what a small world it is in which we live. A layman from First Baptist Church in Kilgore, who told me later that he had been a medical patient of Janet’s late uncle H.K. Crawley, gave a testimony of his raising money for the hungry. And then he said this: “A hungry stomach has no ears with which to hear the gospel.”
I don’t think any of us has ever been in this situation, so we will have to use our imaginations. But try to put yourself in the shoes of someone else for just a moment, someone who wonders where the next meal might come from, someone who does not know where he or she will sleep tonight, someone who is sick and has no place to turn for healing. Then think about this: God’s grace is a tough pill to swallow if you’re gagging on poverty and injustice. Have you ever voted, instead of for yourself, on behalf of someone like that?
Randy Hyde is senior pastor of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark. He holds degrees from Ouachita Baptist University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a doctorate from Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is married to Janet, and they have two grown children, Emily and Timothy.