The most direct self-referential command Jesus has given to those who would call themselves by his name is, "Follow me." That means that even before praising Jesus, we must follow him on his path of love. It is that path that led him to teach, to heal, to save, to sacrifice. Yet his path did not stop there. It also led him to fulfill the prophet's mandate to call to account the shepherds of his people who seemed to care more for power and wealth than for the welfare of the sheep they were vowed to serve.
What does this mean in the roiling realm of politics in America today? It means that we who purport to follow Jesus must issue our own prophetic call to the shepherds of our nation who seem to serve only themselves and the few they claim as their own.
We must call upon our officials and elected representatives to turn from the greed and imperial ambitions of Caesar to embrace Christ's call to care for those in need: the weakest, the neediest, those in the twilight of their days.
We must call upon the politicians of America to stop the crony capitalism that enriches the few and impoverishes the many.
We must call for all Americans to be provided with adequate health care, a livable minimum wage, and access to an education that can prepare them to be fruitful in the marketplace and to contribute to the common good of all.
We must call upon our political leaders to stop their cynical misuse of religion and "faith" to support exclusionary policies, exploitative policies, policies that deal in killing and death.
We must call upon all who claim to be politicians "of faith" to return integrity to America's political culture by embracing the same humility that moved the psalmist to pray, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).
We must call upon all who claim the name of Christ to reclaim the holistic spirituality that Jesus taught, not the one-dimensional imitation of it that frees us from the responsibility to make justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Finally, we must call upon our politicians to end their ceaseless drive for power and to begin to sincerely serve the needs of those entrusted to their leadership. For the politics of Jesus seeks not to possess worldly power, but to serve the justice of God.
[to be continued ...]
Obery M. Hendricks Jr., Ph.D., is a professor of biblical interpretation at New York Theological Seminary and author of The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of the Teachings of Jesus and How They Have Been Corrupted.