Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Jesus for President!

JESUS FOR PRESIDENT! Not quite, "HOSANNA, BLESSED HE IS WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!" But, maybe not too far off in the minds of those crowding the streets of Jerusalem on that day we remember as Palm Sunday. They were surely as fickle and celebrity-driven as we are today. On that first day of the week they wanted to crown Him king, but less than a week later they recanted and responded to the local religious leadership to call for His crucifixion. Talk about a volatile political situation!

Why the quick change? Why did the religious leadership hate Him so? Sure, He did agree with their question about being God. (Matthew 26:63-66) But more than that I believe he was shaking up their whole system. They desired a Messiah and a Savior, but only according to their design and understanding. With Jesus it was not the status quo. It was Samaritan women, tax-gathers, and prostitutes standing side-by-side with priests and rabbis. The Kingdom of God wasn't just pushing at the walls of their religious system, it was blowing them clear away. You can understand their fear.

As I approach the celebration of Palm Sunday this weekend, I am once again drawn to the question of how I would have responded to the events of that Passion Week. Would I have gone from "Hosanna!" to "Hang him!"? I pray not! I hope I would have welcomed, with open heart and arms, the One who was to be crowned King of the Jews. I pray I would have welcomed and embraced the coming of the Kingdom of God.

But, I wonder...would I?

I surely welcome Jesus now into my heart as Lord, as Savior. I pray, and even work from time to time, for His Kingdom to come. But as I take a hard look at my Lord's declarations of what the Kingdom is, I realize how "wall-destroying" His teaching is. This was powerful placed before me as a result of my attendance at the National Pastors Convention about two weeks ago.

During the convention I was privileged to attend a panel discussion led by the host of Speaking of Faith, Krista Tippet. The panel was comprised of Chuck Colson, Rev. Gregory Boyd, and Shane Claiborne. They most definitley covered the political spectrum. It was an enlightening and informative, as well as thought-provoking time.

Toward the end of the discussion a question was asked from those gathered about what the Kingdom of God looks like, sadly, the question was never really answered. I gave the question some thought and came to the conclusion that if you want to know what the Kingdom looks like take a read of Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount. Certainly this is not all that the Kingdom is, but it is a good start. Jesus' teaching, recorded by Matthew, set out what it means to follow Him. It is teaching that begins to blow away the box of our religiosity.

As I thought about it some more (while running through the woods of Henry Cowell State Park) I was struck and humbled by the thought that most of the ministry professionals gathered at the National Pastors Convention really did not want the Kingdom of God to be established right now. If we did, then we really could not be attending such events that cost us hundreds of dollars in fine hotels and good food and conference entertainment. Money that would be better spent to care for widows and orphans and the things closer to the heart of the Lord, things that deal with justice and mercy. (Micah 6:8).

Please don't take me for bitter and jaded, I am rather feeling quite convicted and humbled. I see myself in the Palm Sunday crowd cheering for the coming Deliverer, but once faced with what that deliverance would cost me, I quickly become one of the cowards in the crowd.

The challenge for me is strong. The Kingdom of God is not just about then and there, it is about here and now (Luke 10:9 among others) If Jesus is Lord, and with that Lord of all, then what He says, goes. Yes, it is difficult! Yes, it blows the walls off my religion! But it is His Kingdom, and I as one who has chosen to believe and follow, to enjoy the God's glorious grace, must be one who seeks to live in the reality of His Kingdom and rule. Oh, I am so far from the mark. But, as the Apostle Paul declared I push on toward the goal, the upward call in Christ. (Philippians 3:12-14)

May I truly live out the proclamation, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD."


Anonymous said...

Boy this is brave, discussing religion and politics at the same time. Let me first of all say that this is my opinion only and certainly does not necessarily reflect the opinion of anyone at Felton Bible Church.

I have to admit that I am very impressed with Obama and not because Oprah is endorsing him although I dearly love Oprah, but because he hasn’t accepted political contributions from lobbyists.

He is also an inspiring charismatic speaker, and we are long overdue for a black president. I feel it’s high time we put our money where our mouths are and showed the world that it may have taken us a while to wake up and smell the coffee, but we have as a nation grown up enough to respect a black person enough to vote them in as president of the United States. Okay, it would be better if it were a woman who was black (Oprah,yes!), but no seriously, I think Obama is impressive and apparently, I’m not the only one who is impressed with him.

His speeches are all about the little guy, affordable medical coverage for everyone. He talks about CEO’s who make more money in a few hours than some people make in a year (like who hasn’t wondered what’s wrong with THAT picture???). Oh dear, I have to remind myself, he is a politician and politicians are famous for making empty promises and even if his heart is in the right place and he means every word he says, he has to have the cooperation of the senate and the house as well.

But the thing is, he sounds an awful lot like Jesus would sound if he were running for president. I pray he is truly sincere and if so I hope and pray he makes it and that if he does make it, he gets more cooperation out the house and senate than Christ did out of the cowardly political leaders that succumbed to the Pharisees and Sadducees demands to crucify him. And then I find myself wondering what would happen to the first black president of the United States if he not only talked the talk, but walked the walk Jesus would have him walk and was able to inspire and influence enough people to really get Jesus kind of results?

And then I think of Martin Luther King and I pray that if he makes it and is effective in the ways he vows, that he will not be assassinated. Do all good people die young? Jesus was only 30 by the time he ruffled enough feathers to cause a murderous throng to scream, “Crucify him!” I always pray for our president’s protection, but if Obama makes it, I plan on praying harder than ever.

Most people are sheep. It was the religious leaders and the political leaders that led the people astray so that they went from shouting “Hosanna” to “Crucify him" so regardless of who other Christians reading this are endorsing, I think we can all agree that we should pray for a Jesus kind of person to lead this nation.

Maybe, we can’t put Jesus’ name on the ballot, but I pray that God can put Jesus in our president’s, senate members', and house of representatives members’ hearts.


Gary said...

You are getting some inspiring thoughts while running through the woods of Cowell Park, I see. God must love running too!

That’s a good pondering you had about the expenses of attending conventions.