It’s troubling how Jesus has been made into a mascot for modern political causes. I see it pretty often on TV and in the news, and it happens constantly in social media. You know what I’m talking about:
“If Jesus were around today, he would obviously be a Republican. Jesus would stand up for the rights of the unborn!”
“If Jesus were around today, he would definitely be a Democrat, because Jesus really cared about the poor!”
“If Jesus were around today, he would probably be a third party candidate, because he was so anti-establishment!”
The truth is, Jesus would be none of those. Jesus was not a political candidate. Jesus wasn’t interested in politics. Public policy was not his agenda. That was not his mission at all.
Jesus did not come to involve himself in the bickering of human politics, he came to seek and save what was lost. He came to offer us forgiveness for our sins, and eternal life. His mission was a spiritual one with eternal implications.
On at least one occasion during Jesus’ ministry, people attempted to lure him into a political debate. He quickly showed them that he was not interested. That was not the conversation Jesus wanted to have.
For example, when the religious leaders asked him to weigh in on the validity of paying taxes to the Roman Emperor (an extremely contentious political issue of the day), he sidestepped the question. He told them that since Caesar’s picture was on the coin, they might as well give the money to him (Mark 12:13-17).
For Jesus, political discussions were a distraction.
The Apostle Paul avoided taking divisive political stances as well, encouraging his readers to submit themselves to the ruling authorities (Romans 13:1-2). Just like Jesus, Paul didn't want polarizing political agendas to cloud the amazing message of Christianity.
Jesus was interested in spiritual transformation, not political action or social change. When we make Jesus a mascot for our political causes, we do two things:
1. Reduce Jesus' mission from an eternal/spiritual one to a human/political one
2. Use Jesus as a weapon against people with different politics than our own
Jesus is not a political mascot. He is not a trump card. He is not some tool we can use to make a more compelling case for whatever our own political agenda is. That is making Jesus into our image, and viewing him through the narrow lens of modern politics.
We need to take Jesus for who he is, and make his agendas ours. He sets the agenda, not us.
If Jesus were around today (which he is, by the way), he would probably tell us to quit paying so much attention to cable news and online political squabbling, and just focus instead on following him.