My best guess is that not everyone shares my expansive view of the Kingdom of God. I read recently that only twenty-five percent of Evangelical Christians believe that we have a moral obligation as a nation to care for immigrants who are coming to our country for refuge. Studying the actual words of Jesus can have a clarifying impact on a person’s understanding of moral duty and responsibility.
Jim Wallis wrote a book a few years ago titled “God’s Politics -Where the Right Gets is Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.” I’ve always been intrigued by that title. It reminds me that God does not have a political party. When Jesus invites us into the Kingdom of God he asks us to let go of our political biases, prejudices and ideologies.
We’re to stop viewing the world through the lens of our political identities and start viewing the world through the lens of Jesus. Jesus, who taught us that in the Kingdom of God, the meek inherit the earth, the merciful receive mercy, peacemakers are called the children of God and only one who comes with the openness of a child will enter the Kingdom. (Matthew 5:3-9)
He told us that how we treat the most vulnerable person is of immense importance to God. Jesus said in the Kingdom of God there will be a day, when God says to the faithful, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’”
Jesus pointed out that the righteous will ask when they had done all these things, for they surely didn’t notice the king around them. “And the King” Jesus said, “will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'” (Matthew 25:31-40)
Through the lens of Jesus we look at the world and the issues of our day differently. We put aside our political biases and look through the vision Jesus gave us as he walked this earth and taught us about the Kingdom of God. Be it race relations, immigrants at the border, health care, climate issues, poverty, abortion or our local communities . . . our understanding of our world is meant to be impacted by the wisdom of Jesus. When we look through the lens of Jesus, we begin by asking ourselves, “What is a Jesus kind of loving response?”
More and more I find Christians locked into their political ideology and not letting the words, grace and wisdom of Jesus penetrate that world view. When I was ordained, the bishop at the time gave each of us a copy of the newly published United Methodist Hymnal. Looking at the inscription a few weeks back, I was startled by what she had written. She had quoted the chorus of Gerald H. Kennedy’s hymn writing, “God of love and God of power, thou hast called us for this hour.” Her words, written so many years ago, challenge me today to speak out against oppression and evil. They encourage me to speak more clearly the words of Jesus. Most of all. they urge me to find a way through the fog of indifference and denial which has spread through Christendom.