A Minister’s Musings………On Politics and Religion (February 14/18)
One of the most frequently heard comments that is offered to Ministers as they go about their work of ministering to folks in a congregation is that we shouldn’t mix politics and religion. “Stick to preaching the Gospel, Reverend!” That would be a safe option, of course, except that preaching the Gospel is mostly about politics!
There are many interpretations as to why Jesus was crucified, but one thing that is surely self evident is that he upset the religious and political leaders of his day to such an extent that they wanted him killed. Jesus’ death on the cross is indeed a religious statement, but it is also a highly charged political statement.
Jesus, you see, was a champion of the marginalized. He spent time in the homes of sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, orphans and widows. He walked with the people who lived on the margins of Jewish society. And he always challenged those in power. “You brood of vipers!” is hardly a statement that would endear him to the folks in power.
During Lent we are privileged to bear witness to the ministry that Jesus lived among the people of First Century Palestine. He loved the unlovely. He healed the sick. He reminded the people that they were unconditionally loved by God. AND he challenged those in power, both the Roman Empire and the religious authorities of his day. He demanded better of them.
And that is our task as followers of Jesus. When governments act in ways that are self-serving and oppress the people, Jesus demands that we speak out. When particular groups of people are denied their human rights, Jesus demands that we speak out. And when we now have the power to destroy all of humanity in a moment of folly if a nuclear weapon is unleashed, Jesus demands that we speak out. It is not always comfortable and it is never easy. But speak we must because that is preaching the Gospel.