There are two subjects that you discuss at your own peril – religion and politics – and definitely not at the same time! Perhaps this would be possible however, if our approach were a little more magnanimous.
It’s been said, that we don’t see the world as it is, but as we are. In other words, what we see is distorted by who we are. We all have an outlook on life, or thoughts about the world – and this is referred to as, a worldview. This assimilated or integrated view of the world is acquired by a lifetime of influences and experiences. Like many, my creed, or my faith – and most definitely my interpretation of it – has framed my thoughts about the world.
Laying claim to a ‘Christian’ worldview sounds a little audacious. Am I really claiming to think just like Jesus? This also leads to subsequent questions that ignorantly assume that Jesus is not – apolitical or non-partisan, like – is my political persuasion and associated ideologies affiliated and synonymous with His? Are His social bents, and voting intentions even, conveniently just like mine?
So, do I think just like Jesus, or do I presume that Jesus thinks just like me? It’s been said, God created man in His own image then man returned the favour. Curiously, has Jesus become in my mind, simply the reflection of me and my politics?
In society, the moral high ground is seemingly a crowded space. People espousing heartfelt opinions concerning the big issues of the day – whether they’re endorsed by pop-culture or frowned upon and deemed politically-incorrect. If only, ‘common ground’ in society proved to be as popular.
Am I the only one motivated by love and compassion? Is justice something I exclusively understand and desire? Is everybody who disagrees with me obviously, morally bankrupt or socially inferior? Can others be truly Christian, and think differently to me?
What Would Jesus Do? Well, Jesus boldly claimed to be obedient to the Father in word and deed – so this clearly determined what He did. The WWJD campaign was an attempt to help followers appropriately frame Jesus-like behaviour and conversation. WWJD is certainly noble, and a thought-provoking question, with virtuous intent. However, are all my subsequent conclusions infallible or flawless? I often think about how refreshingly unpredictable Jesus proved to be in various situations. It makes me think, would I have predicted the endings, sayings and outcomes of all the various parables and gospel accounts? Probably not. Therefore, I must reluctantly concede, I’m unable to confidently claim that I always get right – what Jesus would do.
The public policy space throughout our fractured society is highly contentious and fairly acrimonious. People with passionately held positions, understandably arguing in favour of their own worldview. This often maligned discourse is fraught, divisive and undignified. However if we’re going to invoke a principled position, may it be in the way we advocate and argue our point of view. Let us, on either side of any debate (or even spirited disagreement) be more inclined to be both thoughtful and respectful.
Jesus did not join a political faction nor did He choose to involve Himself in the politics of the day. (This doesn’t mean though, that those who identify as Christian are therefore exempt or excused – quite the contrary.) But if there is no clear blueprint though – do I categorically know what Jesus would do in response to every social, environmental and economic issue confronting our world? Certainly not. Life to many is black and white, (or more appropriately blue, red and green!) but often times, despite your political colour, we’re all finding our bearings in the unchartered sea of grey.
There are big issues that our world is desperately grappling with, that require uncommon, vehement-composure from men and women of faith. I must, where there is disagreement or difference of opinion, summons the wisdom, understanding and patience to engage graciously and honourably. I must also deal with my own political and social prejudices in order to constructively discuss and debate – committed to ‘playing the ball and not the person’. I’m not always wrong – but unlike Jesus, I’m not always right either!
So, let us, without politicising Jesus and polarising people, exchange points of view robustly but magnanimously.
Author: Nathanael Wood