Yes, I realize it is the day after Easter and my blog should be focused on “Easter faith” kinds of issues. However, in light of my last blog – Jesus was NOT a socialist – I thought it only proper to follow-up with a post that speaks to my own political tendencies. Being a Texan and a former accountant means the likelihood of me having a conservative bent is rather high – and even if it’s not, I do. I lean toward the conservative side of the political spectrum. And yet, as I serve God by serving the Church, I have had to come to grips with the reality – Jesus was NOT a conservative.
As an adjective the first definition given (via dictionary.com) is:
conservative – disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
As Jesus traveled the countryside during his three years of public ministry the existing condition was a culture of religiosity that demonized the poor, the invalid, and those caught in sin. Not something Jesus was predisposed to preserve. The institution of his time – the Jewish community was ruled by people who told others what to do all while enjoying the perks of power. Again, not what he wanted to see continue. Did he come to restore the old order? Well, he told his followers he would shed his own blood and it would be the blood of a NEW covenant. No, it’s pretty clear, Jesus was NOT a conservative.
Great, so what does that mean for those of us who lean that way? What does it mean for those who are prone to conservative perspectives and like to claim Jesus as being in line with us? Well, I guess it means the same thing it did last week for Socialist-minded folks. We can’t readily claim Jesus as the leader of a conservative movement or the author of a conservative manifesto. I love the saying I once heard about Jesus returning as he promised – “Jesus is not coming back to take sides, he’s coming back to take over.”
What I’m discovering is that following Jesus means questioning my own motives and examining the issues of our day in light of God’s love, and in light of God’s desire for us to love him and love our neighbor. I’m discovering more and more that I cannot be a conservative and truly follow Jesus, for that conservative tendency can hinder the possibility of hope for my neighbor. I cannot truly be a conservative and follow Jesus because the church and the followers of Jesus must be willing to move and change as the Spirit calls us – for the sake of bringing the gospel, the Easter truth, out into a world of lost and hurting people. I’m discovering that I cannot take sides in this world, I can only do what is asked of me. Sometimes that meshes with who I am, other times it is at odds with my own thinking. But, as I follow Jesus I find that I am being transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2).
As I said last week, the new perspective I have decided to hold on to is that Jesus was a “covenantalist”. He promotes the idea of a covenant relationship between us and God, between us and each other. It is a covenant of love that says the greatest of us is the servant of others. It is a covenant of love that says the greatest love we can show is to lay down our life for our friend.
“Covenantalism” is a radical way of living that declares: We are not in charge and we are not capable of making the world what it should be – all we can do is follow God and trust that God will bring order out of the chaos and new life out of what seems to be a dead-end.
Well, what do you know, I did write a blog focused on “Easter faith” – go figure.
Holy high five to you, Mike.