Friday, May 30, 2008

Sacred & Secular Belief (Or, Why I Am Not a Democrat) Part 2

Rich got me thinking with his response to part 1 of this discourse about the political nature of the statement, "Jesus is Lord." I had always taken it as a cosmological and eschatological statement first, and its political implications were worked out through that framework.

Now I'm wondering if the statement, "Caeser is Lord," was ever merely a political statement. Did the Roman emperors mean much more by that title? Was saying, "I am Lord" similar to saying "I am emperor," or "I am president?" Or were they implying something more, possibly something approaching the divine?

Regardless, Jesus didn't coin the creed, "Jesus is Lord." That was a later, apostolic invention. (Though I do believe Jesus inspired it through the Holy Spirit.)

Moreover, Jesus had the opportunity to lead a political rebellion. After feeding the 5,000 [men, and many more women and children besides], they wanted to make him king. Yet he refused, even to the point of walking on water in order to get away from them (not to mention the other things he says in John 6 to discourage the 5,000).

He could have made a political statement, and quite a large one, too. He had a ready-made army of 5,000. But instead he drove them off with an extremely difficult teaching. He had no interest in becoming king, even turning down the right to rule all the kingdoms of the world if he would only have bowed down to Satan. Jesus refused to be made king according to the will of men or devils. He would only be made king according to the will of the Father.

I don't know how to read this other than concluding that Jesus was at least unpolitical, if not antipolitical. What hope was there for him in the governments of men? What can the state do through taxation and legislation that he can't do through salvation and sanctification? I'm not saying that he is an anarchist. Far from it, actually. What I am saying is that Jesus didn't concern himself deeply with the workings of government and politics. It's as though he says, "The government is to be respected, but it's not going to be the vehicle through which I work."

If he had been concerned about the state, then he certainly would have liberated Israel. But, of course, rather than liberating Israel from Rome, Jesus liberated mankind from sin. He left behind a small group of confessing and believing followers, which is later described as the "body of Christ." This is the core of my understanding of the Church. It is the "body of Christ" on earth.

Jesus has ascended to Heaven, yet he has left us the Holy Spirit, and his body--the Church. Therefore, Jesus is still here on earth in bodily form. His body is all who confess and believe and follow him. And it is their calling (our calling) to do the things that he did and wants to do now.

It is this understanding of the Church that influences how I understand the State. Hopefully anyone who reads these ramblings will help me to sort this through before I post part 3.


Breena of Course! said...

I kinda start tuning out when I hear the word "political" too many times. It throws me way off...but I know other's enjoy it so preach it sometimes preacher! Love you

brendan said...

That is exactly what they meant...all caesars were believed to be a god incarnate and then when they died they went back to their 5 star room in Valhalla...I agree with 99 percent of what you say here...I am not sure what the 1percent is that I disagrre with is yet, but I am leaving the door open for a good argument.