Here in the United States we are in the middle of one of the most interesting election cycles ever. People of faith have taken sides. In all of the posturing and maneuvering Jesus is regularly reimagined as the motivation and inspiration behind the politician. Before I go on, I need to own some things. If you have spent time reading my blogs, it doesn’t take long to figure out that I tend to sit on the progressive side of most issues. If I was an American citizen I would probably vote democratic.
With that said, I have started to seriously question how Jesus is portrayed by both political parties. For the past number of weeks the DOOR staff have been reading Drew Hart’s book Trouble I’ve Seen. In this book, Hart examines how the church (people of faith) have viewed and experienced racism. In chapter 4, Hart makes the assertion that, “As Christians, we have developed all kinds of fancy theological tricks and justifications that allow us to circumvent Jesus as recorded in Scripture.”
Hart is right. American Christianity has taken the Jesus of Scripture and reformed him into a Savior who holds “our” American values. If a person takes the time to look, we can find this reimaging everywhere.
Just this past Sunday my church showed a video of Jesus on Palm Sunday riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. The Jesus in the video looked like a young California surfer dude. His disciples didn’t look much different! Why are we so afraid of portraying Jesus as an Arab radical?
Our visual portrayals of Jesus are just the surface. During his time on earth Jesus talks about loving our enemies, not carpet bombing them in his name. Jesus talked about turning the other cheek and beating swords into plowshares. I cannot imagine Jesus wanting everyone to have a gun for protection.
Jesus never talked about security or safety, but he did suggest that if we were going to follow him it would require self-denial and cross bearing.
For Jesus power had something to do with serving, even to the point of washing the feet of his betrayer.
I am writing this during Holy Week of 2016. I wonder what the impact would be if we as Christians took seriously the Jesus of Scripture? What will it take for us to reimagine the Jesus of America and begin to follow the Jesus, God’s one and only Son?