Between the last election and these midterms, I’ve noticed an increase in certain memes being posted on social media asserting God is on a specific side.
For example, one meme has asked, “If Jesus were on Earth today, would he be at a Trump rally or in a migrant caravan?”
I understand and can appreciate that the purpose of such questions and posts and hypotheticals are meant to elicit or provoke a contemplated response, however leveraged it might be. The underlying framework of such assertions, however, concerns me.
Such assertions are presumptuous. Regardless of agenda, they put demands upon Jesus. They insist that Jesus think like we do or that we know what is best for Jesus to do.
Politics were tense in Jesus’ day, also. Responses in the region varied. Some groups decided to retreat to the wilderness to avoid what the world had become and wait for God’s Messiah to appear and set things right. Other groups believed it was important to remain amongst the world, but only while following the Law and a labyrinth of added clauses in order to maintain purity against the world’s influence. There were other groups who believed violent revolution against the Roman occupation was the best course of action, while others believed reaching political agreements with the Romans was the best option for peace, and power.
When rumors began to swirl that Jesus was God’s long-awaited Messiah, each of these groups believed they knew what Jesus should be doing. They would test Jesus with questions he would always turn around and use as teaching moments. They would invite him into their homes which he would again use to demonstrate God’s will. When messengers would be sent to ask Jesus if he was really the Messiah, he instructed them to compare his work to Isaiah’s imagery of the Messiah’s work and decide for themselves. On one occasion, when he realized a crowd wanted to make him king, Jesus walked away.
Jesus was not willing to let himself be manipulated or made a puppet dancing on someone’s strings. Jesus would not allow himself to be used for someone’s agenda because Jesus had his own agenda.
If you look at some of the disciples Jesus chose, there was a revolutionary and a tax collector. There were some who were with John the baptizer in the wilderness and there was a man who believed money made him powerful. And there were common men who tended to their trades, families, and local synagogues. Each brought with them their own sense of what was right. Rather than catering to any of their sides, however, Jesus’ instruction was “Follow me”. Jesus knew this divisiveness they were accustomed to was characteristic of the Fall’s disharmony, and that following him would cut through the chaos’ tangled web and move into a Way that is Truth and Life.
We cannot follow Jesus while insisting he follow us. We cannot conform to the image of Christ while insisting he conform to ours. We cannot worship a King we demand should be worshipping us.
It’s not that Jesus doesn’t care about the things that we do. It’s that Jesus has already established the way God is going about dealing with all things.
The question for us is whether we will continue upon the way of fragmentation or follow Jesus upon the way which, through his cross, is already making all things new.