By Norris Burkes, Jan 17, 2021
In 1976, I cast my first vote in a presidential election for Jimmy Carter.
My vote was the naive choice of a 19-year-old ministerial student. As a Baptist attending Baylor University, I assumed I should vote for a fellow Southern Baptist.
It made sense to me that our government could use a little help from Jesus – help in the form of a Sunday school teacher from Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga.
That was a long time ago. This past week, some Mob-O-Crats found a more direct route to bring Jesus into government by storming the US capitol.
The “Christian Soldiers” onwardly marched waving placards that insisted, “Jesus Saves” as well as crosses emblazoned with “Jesus Saves.” Some literally wore religion on the sleeves of letterman-styled jackets that said, “You need Jesus.” Others became cheerleaders yelling, “Shout if you love Jesus!”
I believe, as it turns out, Jesus was a no-show. Jesus wasn’t with these protesters, nor did they represent him.
In the vernacular I’d say, “Jesus ain’t got no time for that.”
How do I know?
Because of what happened to Malchus.
“Who’s that?” you ask.
OK, short break for a Jimmy-Carter-like, Sunday school lesson:
Malchus was a part of the arresting party that came in the middle of the night to haul Jesus off to a trial and crucifixion.
He was a servant for the High Priest. That priest would be the prosecuting attorney for the trial.
Stay with me.
Luke 22:49-51 describes the moment when the lynch mob approached Jesus:
“When those around him saw what was going to happen, they said to him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”
Matthew 26:52 gives the full answer:
“And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
That’s one of those hard sayings of Jesus, especially for military chaplains like myself. Some read it as an endorsement for pacificism.
But in context, Jesus was rebuking those who wanted to force God’s Kingdom into promoting an earthly government. As he’d said earlier in John 18:36, “My kingdom doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight…. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”
Why so many scriptures today?
Because I believe our faith can inform us about current issues. And often those issues will lead us to vote for a specific candidate. However, that candidate should never become the issue and that person should never be mistaken for Jesus’ right hand man.
A candidate cannot declare himself to be on Jesus’ side just because he holds a bible for a photo op, attends mass, or even teaches a Sunday school class. If he or she tries to mix religion and politics, religion will always lose. Jesus didn’t put your candidate in office any more than he did mine. But he does admonish us to pray for our leaders.
Nevertheless, if folks persist with Christian Nationalism, (combining the kingdom of God with the kingdom of man), then I’m sorry to say that like four of the insurrectionist, they may literally have picked the wrong hill to die on.
When Carter lost to Ronald Reagan, I thought, well, there goes Jesus. He won’t be welcome in the White House anymore. Of course, that wasn’t true. He’s always welcome.
So, if you must join a “Christian march” on DC or wherever, I recommend plagiarizing the slogan I recently saw on a church sign — “No matter who is my president, Jesus will always be my King.”
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