Co-Opting Christ

After the presidential victories of George W. Bush, liberals had realized that conservatives emphasize Christianity and faith in their campaigns, and this brings Christian voters into their camp.  Since then, liberals have worked very hard to play up their Christian faith, and at the same time, to discredit the Christian notions of their conservative opponents.

A high-school buddy of mine posted this excerpt from Bill Maher, who mocks conservatives and the “new Jesus” that conservatives worship, while contrasting that unreal Jesus with the accurate Jesus that liberals worship, a guy who “hated rich assholes and wouldn’t shut up about how they should give away all of their money”.  In other words, Jesus was a liberal, not a conservative.

The fact is that Jesus can’t be co-opted by either side.  Jesus preached occasionally on the topic of money, but one would be hard pressed to see this as a major theme or emphasis of his.  And I’m pretty sure that Jesus is aghast at the idea of legalizing abortion and euthanasia.  It isn’t that there are two Jesus’ – the faulty conservative Jesus and the accurate liberal Jesus.  The difficulty is that each of us tends to fashion our own, personal Jesus (props to Depeche Mode) that reflects our priorities while minimizing aspects of what Jesus said and did that make us uncomfortable.

In reality, Jesus preached what all of Scripture preaches – that humans are not the solution to the problems we make.  While we can and should make things better, our hope is not in welfare or Keynesian economics but in Christ alone.   Jesus is neither a conservative or a liberal but the Lord of all creation who comes to displace both of these faulty human platforms with the perfection of God.  In the meantime, both liberals and conservatives  will get some things partially right about Jesus and many other things mostly wrong about him.  They want Jesus in their camp, but Jesus came to eliminate their camp.

Christians need to be smarter about efforts to co-opt Jesus for political ends.  Smarter not in the sense of doing it better, but smarter in the sense of not making that mistake in the first place.


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