Opinion Columns & Blogs

April 4, 2010

What would Jesus have been -- a Republican, a Democrat or ...?

On this Easter Sunday, the most holy and joy-filled day for Christians, I wonder ...

Was Jesus a Republican or a Democrat?

To listen to many of the politicians and partisans on both the left and the right these days, he's one of their own. They show up at his churches, they talk of his principles and they ask his blessing on their policies and programs.

So who's right? Or, perhaps better yet, are either of them right?

To be sure, Jesus might commend Democrats for their concern for the poor, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised, the outcasts -- the very people he reached out to again and again during his life on this earth.

To be sure, Jesus might commend Republicans for their focus on personal accountability and responsibility -- the very things he espoused over and over again during his ministry.

Thus, in these areas and others, Jesus might have some good words for Democrats and Republicans alike, because, as author Tony Campolo once wrote, "each of them incorporates some of God's truth and emphasizes some of the good God requires of us."

But in his book "Is Jesus a Republican or a Democrat?" Campolo also notes that not all would be pleasing to him.

"Each party has its positives as well as its negatives," Campolo writes, "In reality, each side has half the truth."

As a result, Jesus also might take both Republicans and Democrats to task for transgressions that greatly displease and disappoint him.

I suspect he's not pleased with the harshness and hatred with which both sides treat each other -- and which we see every day in everything from newspaper letters to the editor to talk shows to Web sites to debates on Capitol Hill.

I suspect he's not pleased with the way people define him to suit their own purposes -- it is, after all, easier to change God to fit our lifestyle than to change our lifestyle to conform to his wishes and ways.

I suspect he's not pleased with how his truths are selectively interpreted, altered and otherwise twisted for purely personal and political purposes.

And I suspect he's not pleased with people and groups that hijack his name to justify their causes -- whether they're worthwhile or downright evil.

Christians celebrating Easter today -- be they conservative or liberal or somewhere in between -- would be well-served to remember that when Jesus commanded his followers to "love your neighbor as yourself," he didn't add "as long as she's a Democrat" or "as long as he's a Republican" or anything else, for that matter.

So, was Jesus a Republican or a Democrat?

"Both parties are partly right and partly wrong," Campolo writes. "I am glad we have a two-party system in this country. And I am glad that God belongs to neither one of them."

I say "Amen" to that.

Vasché may be contacted at mvasche@modbee.com or 578-2356.

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