And He’s not a Democrat either. From what I know of the Man, he has better things to do than to align himself with various factions vying for political power. Ultimately, he has all of that in abundance anyway.
It’s instructive that even though Jesus held many positions in common with the Pharisees (resurrection of the dead, acceptance of all the Hebrew Scriptures and not just the Torah, belief in angels), he never once identified himself as a Pharisee. It is also instructive that he socialized with people from all backgrounds and factions, including Pharisees (Luke 11, John 3), Samaritans (John 4), people from Herod’s household (Luke 8), Roman soldiers (Matthew 8), Gentiles (Mark 7), fisherman (Matthew 4), publicans (Matthew 21), Zealots (Luke 6), and anyone else who would hear his message.
As a self-described political junkie I have been tempted the past year or so to stop describing myself as an Independent and to affiliate formally with an established political party. As a practical matter, the party system offers a mechanism to join forces with others of like values and convictions in order to affect a peaceful change in the body politic and ideally in the direction of the country.
I like that thought and believe it a legitimate one. But then I ask myself, if Jesus were a citizen of the United States today would he join the Republican Party? How about the Democrats, or the Libertarians, or Constitutionalists? I think not, but not because it is inherently wrong to be involved in politics and make common cause with those of like minds. Jesus refused membership with any faction because his purpose transcends politics. His purpose is to establish a better kingdom that is not of this world’s order (Greek: cosmos, John 18:36).
It’s doubtful that I’ll join up again with either of the parties that once had my allegiance, or any other party for that matter, not because I’m Jesus, but because running for office is not my calling. I don’t need any party’s imprimatur on my backside, and I’m sure not going to give any party mine.
In the book Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, author Joseph J Ellis refers to “the monarchical principle”, a phrase John Adams used to describe one of his bedrock views of Presidency. One might think that this implies autocracy, and perhaps to an extent Adams had that tendency. But a Monarchical Presidency implied something more. Both Adams and Washington viewed the Presidency as an office above politics in the same way that the British Monarch is supposed to be above politics and thus not a member of any political party. The president was to be president of all the people and a unifying force for the nation.
That concept ended with Jefferson. Says Ellis, “As Jefferson had understood from the moment Washington stepped down, the American president must forever after be the head of a political party.” (p. 204)
That’s the sad way the world will always unfold, but we don’t have to play that game in order to be salt and light to the world. Political parties have their place, but don’t let them own you.