35Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do us a favor." 36"What is it?" he asked. 37"In your glorious Kingdom, we want to sit in places of honor next to you," they said, "one at your right and the other at your left." 38But Jesus answered, "You don't know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?" 39"Oh yes," they said, "we are able!" And Jesus said, "You will indeed drink from my cup and be baptized with my baptism, 40but I have no right to say who will sit on the thrones next to mine. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen." 41When the ten other disciples discovered what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 42So Jesus called them together and said, "You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. 43But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. 45For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many." ~ Mark 10:35-45; NLT
In this passage we discover an amazing political statement of Jesus. Whether or not we want to admit it Jesus was a political individual. Yet we miss out on the politics of Jesus because they are so different than the way we do things. Too often when Christians, and thus the Church, gets involved in politics we tend to follow the way of the world. Our politics too often resemble the world around us rather than our King.
The politics of this world are about force and propaganda. In our democratic language we might use the words of power and “spin,” but they are still there. Jesus makes it clear that we are not to follow the politics of this world. We are to be different. Rather than trying to gain power and force people to follow our laws we are to serve people and give our lives.
The politics of the Church isn’t about getting the right laws passed or making sure our rights are protected. The politics Jesus wants His people to follow are about serving others. Thus Christians are not to be political to preserve a certain way of life, but help those who are in need of help.
Part of the problem that we run into in a country like the United States is that we have a voice in the government where as in the day of Jesus, and for most people, they do not. For us we need to find the balance between doing our civic duty and serving others. We also have to remember what is important is not the future of our country, but the expansion of God’s Kingdom.
Sure things are not what we would like them to be. We are concerned with the immorality that has become so open around us and that drives us to want to make and enforce laws so that people would act more like we want them to act. A change in behavior means nothing without a change of heart. Isn’t that the point Jesus made in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, “You have heard it said…but I say…”? The goal of Jesus’ politics is not to get people to behave in a certain manner, but to change their hearts.
This is best done by serving others out of compassion. People will follow leaders whom they perceive care for them. When Christians give their lives over to service for others, when we realize that our greatest influence comes out of love, we will seek to meet people where they are hurting rather than bickering back in forth in the halls of the government about what is the best way to handle things. The power of the Church is not found in the elections booths or in government positions, but in the serving of the least important citizens.
Here is my great concern: that the Church in the United States is too entangled in the politics of this world and not interested enough in serving others. The Church will do more for this country, for this world, by serving the least important citizens. That is the way the Church will have a lasting impact on the morality of this nation. Are you willing to serve?