Jesus: Republican or Democrat?


by Bruce Strom

Unless you live under a rock, you are likely aware we are in an election year.  And what a year!  Candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are surprising pundits, while Jeb Bush has already dropped out of the race.  Meanwhile the news media continues to report on the evangelical vote within the Republican Party, while never mentioning the Democratic Party.  This could easily lead one to conclude that Jesus is a Republican.  But is he?

I believe Jesus would agree with the stance on life, liberty and personal responsibility in the Republican Party.  Jesus is a promoter of life and freedom.  But Jesus is also a strong proponent of the poor, stewardship of creation, and destroying barriers of race and ethnicity.  Those are values most aligned with the Democratic Party.  So is Jesus a Republican or a Democrat?

I believe Jesus is neither an elephant nor a donkey.  He is a lion and a lamb.  He is the lion of Judah and the lamb that was slain.  Jesus was radically engaged with society leading to the challenge he was orchestrating a political coup.  But while Jesus was born to be king, his kingdom is not of this world (Jn. 18:33-37).  The leaders in Jesus day tried to push him in one direction or the other when they pitted temple authorities against Caesar, but Jesus would choose neither side – “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”  (Lk. 20:25).

Too often I think we lead with our politics and try to make Jesus fit our position.  Jesus will not be contained.  He is not a “tame lion” to use C.S. Lewis’s Aslan descriptor.  So where does that leave Jesus followers?

This week a poll was released on the attitudes of the snapchat generation (18-26).  The poll shows an astounding 88% are optimistic about the future.  This is a generation that respects those who serve, heal and protect.  They see themselves as global citizens who oppose corruption, greed and income inequality.  And they are engaged – 87% plan on voting, many for the first time.  Sadly only 13% had a positive view of pastors, only 8% of lawyers and only 6% of business leaders.  We are seen by this generation more like the Pharisees of Jesus day who were not viewed as servants, healers or protectors.  But Jesus was all those things.  We should be as well.

I think it is critical to recognize our dual citizenship (no not Ted Cruz’s recently dropped Canadian/American citizenship).  We are citizens first of the Kingdom of God and second of America.  And the Kingdom of God is marked by service – love of neighbor (Lk 10:27) and even our enemy (Lk. 6:27).  Politics and campaigns certainly don’t reflect this perspective, but we have always been called to live separate from the world.  Set apart.  Holy.

Living separate from the world does not mean we disengage from the world.  Jesus did not want to take us out of the world, but for us to recognize we were not of this world as we went into the world. (Jn. 17:15-18).  But we are to go into the world as humble servants marked by love.  (Jn. 13:35).

I appreciate the enthusiasm and optimism of our younger generation.  We should be more like them, because we know the victory is won.  Jesus is the lamb that was slain and he defeated sin and death on the cross.  So why should we worry or be afraid?  We should set an example in our churches, businesses and lives that demonstrate our commitment to serve, heal and protect vulnerable neighbors.  The world is watching along with the snapchat generation.

Vote.  Be engaged.  Follow Jesus.  And love your Christian neighbor who might not vote the same way you do.  Believe it or not, there won’t be a Republican or Democrat section in Heaven.  So instead of identifying as Republican or Democrat, let’s be Samaritans who follow Jesus and

Go and Do Likewise.