Jesus is stepping into our Culture War arena in America and saying He’s beyond it. Just as He did 2,000 years ago. He’s a threat to both groups. And He calls out to his people to see beyond to His kingdom. To fight neither Caesar nor the Jewish leaders. The Liberals nor the Conservatives. The Republicans nor the Democrats.
Jesus confronts us to say that His followers have been co-opted by outside groups who have convinced us that the government could be changed and the country would become more like Jesus. Does that mean evangelicals should not be involved in government or the political process? No, obviously, they should. That’s part of being salt and light, allowing the mind of Christ to impact legislation and provide the best government for the people.
The problem is that the Culture War-mongers co-opted evangelicals to somehow believe the government could actually become the savior of the American society. Thus we’ve replaced one Savior with another savior—the political process. In the confusion, it’s all too easy to lose sight of what and whom we lift up to respect and follow.
We’ve replaced one Savior with another savior.
Jesus said in the book of John, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (12:32). Not if His word were lifted up. Not if His choice for a political party was lifted up. And not even if one of His disciples and best representatives was lifted up. No, He pointed to Himself to be lifted up. There is one very important lesson to be learned from Scripture and history: When we raise the flag higher than the cross, we have a problem.
When that happens, people get confused as to which Jesus we’re talking about. Jesus divorced himself from taking sides because He knew that taking sides only leads to an us-versus-them mentality. It creates trench warfare where we simply remain holed up in our foxholes of belief, preferring to lob verbal grenades and mortars into each other’s camps and take on casualties.
Jesus also placed himself and his agenda above the fray, including the tricks of each camp to see whose side he took. Whether it was the Pharisees asking him about paying taxes or when it was okay to divorce or Pilate asking if He was King of the Jews. He always responded to their verbal trickery with a response they had not considered, something more profound than their minds could imagine.
Today, some use Jesus as their excuse to denounce those who would stand against the Gospel and the biblical worldview. Conversely, those all about advancing an agenda contrary to the biblical worldview see evangelicals as outdated, hypocritical, intolerant, and out of touch. Each camp views the other as the enemy. Couldn’t be any colder of a war than what we have right now.
Jesus understood where the real power lay and displayed it when He washed His disciples’ feet.
Those living in the first century A.D. had the same issues we do today: aberrant behaviors, taxes, corruption, etc. Jesus’ response was to exhibit a new form of warfare—to establish the counter-culture mentality as the way to fight the Culture War. He walked the earth redefining the vocabulary of the day to suit His heavenly kingdom’s purpose. His life was counter everything. Counter-intuitive, counter-cultural. And nothing about His teachings has changed to this day.
When we raise the flag higher than the cross, we have a problem.
Jesus wants His followers to lift Him up…and nothing else. He is not concerned with agendas of the Liberals, the Progressives, the Conservatives, or the Tea Party. He has no affiliation.
He points to Himself as the Savior with all humility and exhibits power by going to the Cross. Jesus wants us to understand that the only hill to die for is Calvary. When we set up other hills to die for, we miss the mindset of Jesus.
If you want to fight the Culture War, leave Jesus out of it. And leave His words out of it, too. Otherwise, those who might really see Jesus in you will get confused about the Gospel when you raise the flag or any cause higher than the Cross.
You can purchase Joe Battaglia’s The Politically Incorrect Jesus here
Read more about the book in an interview with SCH contributor Suzanne Niles