A vigorous discussion is under way in the Comments section of last week's interview with Donald Miller about his decision to campaign for Barack Obama.
One of the comments is from John Cooper, the youth pastor of Garden Ridge Church of Christ in Lewisville, Texas. After stating his appreciation for Don and Blue Like Jazz, Cooper admitted that he was "perplexed" by Don's decision to "promote the ideas of the American political system." He wrote: "After reading [Shane] Claiborne and [Chris] Haw's Jesus for President, I am not sure how Christ-followers can align ourselves with an empire and a president rather than pledging our allegiance to a King and His kingdom. I plan to vote Jesus for president."
Cooper brings up an important point that deserves more discussion. I am only halfway through Claiborne's "The Irresistible Revolution" and a quarter of the way through "Jesus for President," so I don't feel comfortable laying out this perspective myself. I asked Cooper if we could cross-publish here a post he wrote on his personal blog earlier this month. He graciously agreed.
I'm interested to your hear thoughts.
Cooper's post is below:
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The other day a buddy sent me and a bunch of our friends a link to a website designed to help us determine whether our values most reflect presidential candidates McCain or Obama and, thus, which individual we should voter for on November 4th. I took the test out of curiosity, though I already have made up my mind concerning my vote (more on that later). There were 13 issues raised with quotes from each candidate for each issue. The trick was that the site does not attribute the quotes to either McCain or Obama (you can guess some of them). That way you can make a decision on your values and not the candidate. In complete fence-straddling fashion, 7 of my choices were linked to Obama and the other 6 to McCain. I got a good chuckle out of that.
Regardless of those results, I made up my mind this summer after reading a book by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw (also check out http://www.jesuswantstosavechristians.com/) that I would be voting Jesus for President. What's that? You say He's not on the ballot and instead we should vote for the candidate that most closely reflects the nature and ideals of Christ? Well, that is the sort of thing most of us are taught to do in our families and churches, right? That is why in Christian circles it is often popular to vote along republican party lines (whether or not this party's ideals reflect Jesus or not is another topic)... straight ticket even!
The idealistic goals of electing a Christian president and disseminating Jesus' values from Washington might seem like a worthy effort. However, rather than putting our hope in a political system, a president, and a nation, those of us who follow Jesus should be about doing His will, honoring Him as King, and pledging allegiance to His Kingdom. We must not rely on the government to do the very tasks God has called us to do as His hands and feet.
To quote Shane Claiborne, author of Jesus for President, "What is more important than how we vote on November 4 is how we live on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5." He goes on to say, "We vote every day with our lives... we vote every day with our feet, our hands, our lips, and our wallets. We vote for the poor. We vote for the peacemakers. We vote for the marginalized, the oppressed, the most vulnerable of our society. Ultimate change does not just happen every four years."
So whether we vote for McCain or Obama or write-in Jesus for President, may we be about the things of our Father in Heaven and His Son, our Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. May we follow the slaughtered lamb into acts of humility, service, enemy-love, grace, and peace. May we remember that we were called to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a people set apart and belonging to God; aliens and strangers in this world. May we not grow too comfortable and secure in a false identity as Americans, but reflect our true identity as God's children. May we vote every day for the cause of the orphans, widows, imprisoned, sick, poor, hungry, and the least of Jesus' brothers and sisters; and, as we do so, may we see that we are actually serving our King.