Truly, that overstates it. I don’t know if Jesus would take political sides today, but I do believe he would take ideological stances on particular subjects, and the majority of those stances would land him on the liberal end of the political spectrum.
I grew up in a very small, conservative town in the foothills of Northern California. Monday through Friday, I went to school and parked next to lifted trucks flying Confederate and “Make America Great Again” flags.
Sunday, I went to church with those same people.
For years, Christianity and conservatism have been fused together in a way that has never made sense to me. The incongruity of those who claim to love and serve Jesus and then stand for things that embody the opposite of much of what Jesus stood for, died for, and commanded his followers to live by has amazed me.
Born as a refugee in exile, Jesus’s very birth and life challenges the traditional views of holiness in which the current Christian faith has struggled to break free. Jesus could have entered the world any way he wanted, yet according to the Nativity story, his birth took place in the poorest way possible — born in a barn to a young, poor woman. The story of Jesus’s birth challenges values of elitism, prosperity, and hierarchy, highlighting the radical and progressive ideas that Jesus brought into the world.
As seen in many instances, Jesus stood by marginalized and oppressed groups rather than kings and elites, standing against social and economic injustices — which was a catalyst to his persecution and ultimate crucifixion, since the Jewish religious leaders saw him and his radical ideas as a threat to their teachings.
Translated into the modern era, I believe Jesus would most definitely be teaching the truth that BIPOC, as well as other oppressed and marginalized groups, deserve equality. Jesus would be advocating for the deconstruction of systemic racism. Jesus would befriend members of the houseless community. Jesus would fight for women's rights. Jesus would get vaccinated and wear a mask. Jesus would fight for social justice and human rights. Jesus would stand by members of the LGBTQ+ community — as Jesus himself never said anything against homosexuality — and he knew everyone to be a child of God, worthy of love and compassion.
As said in Colossians 3:12, “As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”
Time and time again we see Jesus choosing love, fighting for the poor and the oppressed. He tells parables to his disciples like the Good Samaritan, Jesus and the Fisherman, and Jesus feeding the 5,000 that demonstrates crossing cultural and racial and ethnic prejudices and even economic divides to aid someone in need and treat one another with love.
He highlights that one's value is not tied to who they are ethnically, or economically, but that everyone is worthy. He even teaches to take care of the poor, the sick, the widowed, the orphaned, as stated in Luke 6:20-23, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.”
Over the past year and a half, we have been facing a global pandemic that has torn apart our nation, leaving us in a state of heightened political polarization. While getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and abiding by safety precautions should not, in my opinion, be politicised, sadly it has been.
Some churches refused to stop congregating in person, stating that COVID-19 mandates were threatening their freedom to worship — undoubtedly participating in the disastrous spread of this deadly virus. Yet Jesus called his followers to care for the most vulnerable, to always think of others first and to do unto others as they would have them do unto themselves.
Over the past few years, Donald Trump has gained a large Christian following. Polls showed that 60% of Protestant and other Christian groups voted for Trump in the 2020 election, despite the unethical nature of his racist, sexist and narcissistic actions. So much of what we saw of Trump’s behaviors flew in the face of the Bible.
In the New Testament, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money,” (Matthew 6:24). Trump's misplacement of priorities reveals his desire for material wealth, seeking glory for himself rather than any larger cause.
Later in Matthew, Jesus says, “‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me,” (Matthew 19:21). Yet regarding issues of poverty, hunger, and oppression — topics Jesus was greatly invested in — Trump’s policies were alarming.
In Colossians, Paul wrote, “But now you must get rid of all such things — anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth,” (Colossians 3:8). Yet Trump speaks hostility toward many different oppressed and marginalized groups. He sexualizes women, including his own daughter, and has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 26 women. Despite all of this, he still retains a heavy Christian following, which is quite simply unacceptable.
I’m no theologian, but as pastor and author John Pavlovitz wrote, “Jesus was far more relational than he was theological.” And that I can do. Instead of withdrawing from and judging those that are hurting, why don’t we step toward them, into relationships and show them love like Jesus would? Make them feel valued and seen like He did the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus was unfazed by her sin, her gender or her Samaritan identity. He found her worthy and offered her living water.
Obviously, there are plenty more details that can be debated and discussed relentlessly, but for me, for right now, the big picture is the most important. Jesus’s greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. That’s good enough for me.
Haviland Stewart is the Living Section Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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