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The politics of Jesus

Jesus believed himself to be the Son of Man, the Messiah for the Jews, and the rest of humanity. His mission crystallized out in the wilderness – fasting for forty days and going head-to-head with Satan. When he comes out of the desert, crowds flock for he is clothed “in the power of the Spirit.” (1) In a synagogue in Nazareth, he announces who he is by reading from the prophet Isaiah.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
   and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”   (2)

And Jesus does preach to and for the poor, the condemned, the sick, and the enslaved. Those were the people he came for, both literally and metaphorically. At the same time, he accepted everyone: rich or poor, Jew or Samaritan, priest or prostitute. As long as they came with a humble heart. It was only his religious leaders he didn’t get along with.  (3)

He was moved by those who needed him the most, and they were drawn to him because they knew he cared about them. This Rabbi didn’t just talk or pray for them. Jesus gave them food when they were hungry. He calmed a storm when they were scared. He healed them when they were sick and lame. He restored sight to the blind and healed the untouchable lepers…by touch.

Luke tells us Jesus is full of the spirit when he begins to preach one of his favorites, “Blessed are the poor (‘in spirit’ in Matthew), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He then goes on to make promises to those who are ‘hungry, and weep, are hated and insulted.’ A few verses down, Jesus (infuriatingly) tells us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (4 and 5)

Jesus even tells us how we will be judged: For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me, whatever you did not do one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”  (6)

There is a clear social message that shines out from the Gospels. While I understand we cannot run the government like a charity, Christians have been shown who we should aspire to be – as a people, and as a nation. Most conservative Christians I know are good, caring people. There is; however, a convenient disconnect when it comes to matters of policy.

Even with the disparity between the rich and the rest of us growing rapidly (7), Republicans have trained Christians to vote for taxes that favor the most wealthy, while voting against affordable healthcare. The answer to immigration is bigger walls; the solution to gun violence is more guns. And now, many in the Christian faith, believe it is acceptable to lie and cheat to overturn an election.

We are blessed to live in a great country, but our founding fathers wanted the faithful to push their government to be strong and ethical. Christians should be tempering the excesses of capitalism, not stoking them. We are commanded to take care of “the least of these” and to “turn the other cheek.” (6 and 8) And, as a matter of principle, we should always defy would-be despots.

And so I pray that hearts and minds will be opened in this election year. I pray for repentance. (And we all need repentance.) I pray that we learn to love our neighbors, even if they appear to be our enemies. I pray that we live out the spirit of love and forgiveness that runs through the Gospels. We know what Jesus cared about and who he loved…All of us.  



Jeff Fulmer is the author of Hometown Prophet and American Prophet (releasing April 2024). To learn more and receive a free copy of Hometown Prophet, visit here.

1. Luke 4:14
2. Isaiah 61:1-7 and Luke 4;18 and 19
3. Matthew 23:27 “Hypocrites!  You are like white-washed tombs which look beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of bones of the dead and everything unclean.”
4. Luke 6:17-36 and 5. Matthew 5:1-12
6.  Matthew 25: 42 and 45
7.  The Pew Research Center, January 9, 2020, see section, “The wealth divide among upper-income families and the middle-and lower income families sharp and rising.”
8.  Matthew 5: 38 – 40

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