the kingdom question

June 28, 2008

I read and enjoyed Jesus for President (by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw) over the past week. Its stories and theological thoughts encourage ideas about Christianity that seem more in line with what I see in Christ than what I see in much of the church today. It is a book that encourages us to fully follow Jesus in a radical way (as the subtitle “Politics for Ordinary Radicals” declares). And it has pretty pictures.

The book ends by discussing the issue of the American presidential election—after having thoroughly established the idea that Jesus would never run for president. This idea was stirring in my mind as I was invited by my cousin to attend an “Obama for change” meeting. Although I’ve been all-but-brainwashed to support the democrats, and I’ve been quite the democratic party supporter, I’ve recently begun feeling somewhat uncomfortable about endorsing a presidential candidate at all.

I have discussed the election with Christians who strongly support the democratic party, and those who are devoted to the republican party, and both have come across as if their political affiliation is an aspect of their Christianity. I, most likely, have been one of those people.

But I have recently decided that as a peace-lover, I must not commit too much support to anyone willing to waste millions of dollars on election campaigns so they can then assume the role of Commander in Chief of the armed forces in a country that wastes an astronomical amount of money on the military and seems to constantly involve itself in wars.

Jesus for President offers this insightful passage:

The distinctly kingdom question is not about how we should vote but about how we should live . . . We vote every day with our feet, our hands, our lips, and our wallets. We are to vote for the poor. We are to vote for the peacemakers. We are to vote for the marginalized, the oppressed, the more vulnerable of our society. These are the ones Jesus voted for, those whom every empire had left behind, those whom no millionaire politician will represent. (pg. 334)

So while I have an educated and instinctive urge to promote Obama in the upcoming election, I will continue to place my hope elsewhere, realizing that even Obama, with his slogan for “Change,” is willing to wage war on other people if he thinks it’s in the best interest of the United States. The inherent difficulty is that whoever fills the role of president is willing to elevate the maintenance of this country’s strength and power (this empire) above all other allegiances.

We never see an empire that makes itself lowly and humble and allows the world to abuse it and put it to death while practicing love and nonviolence all along. But there is a savior who did just that, and his kingdom beckons us away from the power and violence of the empires of this world. It invites us to live in a radically different way.

One of my favorite quotes is from Lee Camp’s book Mere Discipleship:

It is not through the power brokers of human history that God will effect God’s purposes, but through the little minority band of peoples committed to walking in the way of Jesus of Nazareth, bearing witness to the new reality, the new creation, the kingdom of God. And all this, besides, requires great trust: that it is not our task to make things turn out right, but instead to be faithful witnesses. We will have to trust that God will be God, and do what God promised.

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One Response to “the kingdom question”

  1. Interview Request

    Hello Dear and Respected,
    I hope you are fine and carrying on the great work you have been doing for the Internet surfers. I am Ghazala Khan from The Pakistani Spectator (TPS), We at TPS throw a candid look on everything happening in and for Pakistan in the world. We are trying to contribute our humble share in the webosphere. Our aim is to foster peace, progress and harmony with passion.

    We at TPS are carrying out a new series of interviews with the notable passionate bloggers, writers, and webmasters. In that regard, we would like to interview you, if you don’t mind. Please send us your approval for your interview at my email address “ghazala.khi at gmail.com”, so that I could send you the Interview questions. We would be extremely grateful.

    regards.

    Ghazala Khan
    The Pakistani Spectator
    http://www.pakspectator.com

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