Jesus, Christians, and 2016 Politics
Two months ago, my husband and I were watching the Kardashian-style drama (my spell check just corrected the spelling of Kardashian, our culture is in clear crisis) of the RNC unfold and I find the ongoing “Christian card” being played fascinating. Before some of you get too excited or pissed off and quit reading, this is not going to be a Trump-slamming rant, but more of a reflection, trying to understand where Jesus fits into the ideals of many of those whom call themselves Christians in this country during this election season.
I am definitely not an expert on theology, but it’s my understanding that hypothetically Christians are people who are trying to live the ways of Christ, Jesus Christ (a title not his last name, I know a few things). Jesus, the same bold peacemaking extremist who hung out with and Loved the “unlovable” while harshly criticizing the religious. So with this understanding, I’ve been watching the political environment and my Facebook and Twitter feed go crazy as many Christians rationalize their support of Trump with nonstop talk of the need for a “strong” leader, someone who will keep America “safe” by you know, building walls, having Muslims register and restricting refugee immigration because apparently that is how “they” get us (which is honestly ridiculous to think if you take a few minutes to learn about the vetting process of Refugees). Watching this all unfold, like a never-ending loop of a record playing, what I am seeing, reading, and hearing is that as Christians, we need someone like Trump as a leader because we are wildly afraid of immigrants and Muslims “getting us”.
I mean that sounds like Jesus right? He lived his life advocating that we are fearfully “smart” and look out for our best interest, making sure we are safe from any potential “enemy”. When Jesus was asked what is the greatest command, he said “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind... A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Okay, so love God and Love your neighbor, so that must mean look out for our neighbors aka our fellow Americans, right? We want safety; our neighbors here in America want safety, so the stance of Christians this election season is totally valid.
Except there is a bit of a problem (Okay a ton of problems). First of all, have you looked at the life of Jesus and his followers? Were they all about playing it safe? It doesn’t take a genius to skim through the New Testament and see some contradictions in this type of thinking and the actual life Jesus led.
Okay, so let’s get to who our neighbor actually is. Who, according to Jesus, are we are required to Love? When Jesus was asked who is my neighbor, he responded with the story of the Good Samaritan. Reader’s Digest version, a Jewish man is traveling when he is mugged, beaten and left naked assumingly dead. A “holy man” priest passes by and goes around him, because… gross a naked half-dead guy. A Temple assistant comes along and again, he also wants none of that mess and passes by. Then a “despised Samaritan”, a hated enemy of the Jews comes along, feels compassion, takes care of him and then pays to have him cared for. So Jesus asks something like “who exactly of these three was a neighbor to the man left naked for dead?” Well… clearly there is no other option but to say the Samaritan, the one who showed mercy… to his enemy. To which Jesus said “Now go and do the same.” Show mercy and kindness to your neighbor and whether you like it or not, neighbor includes your “enemy."
This pokes some major holes in the whole self-safety, wall supporting, Muslim hating theory for Christians as they rationalize their election choice… I mean if the greatest commandments of Jesus the Christ himself are to Love God AND Love your neighbor as yourself, meaning Love you enemy as yourself, then how does it appear Christians should be responding to these perceived fears of potential enemies in the form of immigrants, Muslims, and refugees?
If we look more into the words of J-man, loving your enemy means craziness like doing good to those who hate you, blessing those who curse you, giving to everyone who begs you (I think that refugees begging for safety easily applies here), being merciful.
So when I watch a major part of the “Christian” community during this election season, I wonder is the desire for safety fueled by fear more important that living out what Jesus himself said was the most important mandate.
The most prevalent command in the bible is “Do Not Fear.” This makes a ton of sense considering it seems that fear and rationalizing personal safety seem to dramatically pull us away from actually following the ways of Jesus, the ways of bold Love. I don’t think it is irony that Love casts out fear.
I personally am not a fan of religion, but I am a fan of Jesus and trying to live my life following his ways in bold Love. It is crazy to me to see people follow the rationale of some top theologian when he comes up with seven thousand words on why someone like Trump should be who “Christians” vote for when it seems that simply looking at the two basic commands of Jesus, that guy who is supposed to the center of “Christianity”, is contradictory to this fear-filled self-safety-seeking way of thinking.
I find myself wondering, what if these millions of people who consider themselves Christians, try for just a short period to actually follow Jesus in the way of loving their perceived enemies? These fear mongering politicians would lose their big scary “enemy” because Love would win over fear. And really, at this point, that is our only chance at peace, stop loving ourselves so much that we fear everyone and start loving others so we can live without fear. That is a Love that no wall could withstand.