The Politics of Jesus: Faith Above Politics

In a recent message, pastor Kyle Idleman tackled the sensitive topic of faith and politics. With tensions high in an election year, he offered wisdom on engaging biblically.

Idleman began by stating this series is not about telling people how to vote. Instead, it aims to help Christians vote and participate politically in a way that honors God. He laid out key ground rules:

  1. The goal is equipping people to engage politically as God leads, not dictating voting choices.
  2. The teaching will challenge political views across the spectrum based on Scripture.
  3. It won’t simply echo partisan talking points to satisfy certain audiences.
  4. Disagreeing respectfully is welcome; reactive criticism is not.

A major danger Idleman identified is allowing political ideology to shape our faith rather than the reverse. He rejects categories like “conservative Christian” and “liberal Christian” since our identity is in Christ alone. Our highest allegiance must be to Jesus, not any political framework.

To illustrate this point, Idleman looked at Jesus’ warning to “be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” in Matthew 16. Though expert in God’s law, these religious leaders’ interpretations ultimately blinded them to recognizing Jesus. Their commitment to a certain theology prevented them from following Christ.

Likewise today, Christians risk compromising their faith by elevating commitment to a political ideology over loyalty to Jesus. Our political views should be influenced by our faith, not the other way around.

Using the metaphor of yeast, Idleman said whatever fills our lives will shape what we become. As Christians, we’re called to become more like Jesus, not pattern ourselves after any human ideology.

Truly following Jesus’ way in politics starts by asking what we want to become. If we allow partisan voices to be our main influence, we’ll miss becoming what God intended. By pursuing Jesus above all, we can be shaped into his image and engage politics as he would.

The “bread” of a political party always leaves us unsatisfied. But Jesus is the bread of life who alone fulfills our needs. Despite divisive rhetoric this election season, Idleman challenges Christians to fix our eyes on Christ, reject ungodly influences, and embrace Jesus’ model for political engagement.

To illustrate this principle from Scripture, Idleman looked at a famous encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees on paying taxes to Caesar in Mark 12. The Pharisees disliked foreign oppression and rejected paying taxes to Rome. The Herodians supported working with Rome and paying taxes. Together they tried to trap Jesus in an unwinnable dilemma.

But Jesus perceived their hypocrisy and turned the tables. By asking for a coin and pointing out Caesar’s image on it, Jesus refocused the issue back to what truly matters – giving ourselves fully to God, not any earthly power.

Idleman explained that our faith should direct our politics because we are citizens of God’s kingdom first before any nation. Jesus has supreme authority over all earthly rulers and realms. So we should engage politically, but never give our whole selves or highest allegiance to anything except the Lord.

In this divisive climate, Christians must remember that no election result can dethrone Jesus. He remains sovereign regardless of who’s in power. Our faith should shape our political engagement, not vice versa. And our ultimate hope rests in Christ’s eternal kingdom, not any partisan agenda.

This series offers crucial perspective for engaging biblically amidst political turmoil. May we stay anchored in God’s Word, keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and let our primary citizenship in heaven guide our earthly political participation. For Christ alone is Lord of all and worthy of our full devotion.KT

Here are 4 questions about the sermon:

  1. When Jesus warned against the “yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” in Matthew 16:6, what do you think he meant? How might political ideologies function like yeast in our lives today?
  2. The pastor said our faith should influence our politics, not the reverse. How does Romans 12:2 reinforce this idea that we should not be conformed to the pattern of this world?
  3. Jesus deflected the politically loaded question about paying taxes by saying we should give to Caesar and God what is theirs (Mark 12:17). What do you think it looks like to “give to God what is God’s” when it comes to politics?
  4. Idleman stated that Jesus has authority over all earthly realms (Colossians 1:16-17). How should remembering Christ’s sovereignty change how we view and engage in politics during a contentious election season?

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About the Author: Tony Johnson
Tony Johnson is the lead pastor of 2|42 Community Church where he is helping people take next steps with God. Prior to his time at 2|42, Tony served for 15 years in various capacities within the Methodist denomination. He has degrees in broadcasting and marketing from Vincennes University and Ball State University, and he’s also a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary. Tony is passionate about helping people discover and embrace their God-given purpose and potential. In his spare time, you can find Tony cheering on the Miami Dolphins or camping and fishing with his family.

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