Jesus was born into a political cauldron. Zealots on the left agitating for radical and violent change, a ruling class elite on the right intent on preserving the perks and privileges of their hard-earned and well-deserved position, and a vast populace in the middle just hoping for someone or something to ease the burden of their day-to-day subsistence. Each of them pinned their political hopes and dreams on the prospect of the coming Messiah. All of them envisioned Him at the forefront of their respective movement.
Unfortunately, Jesus did not satisfy their expectations. The closest He ever came to weighing in on the politics of His day was in direct response to a question attempting to pigeon-hole Him politically. His response was brief and simple: “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).
Politics are terribly important, holding the power to impact the conditions and direction of the lives and livelihoods of countless numbers of people, for good or for ill. No one who loves their neighbor as themself can afford to take that power or possibility lightly. One needs only to remember the lifelong effort of William Wilberforce to finally abolish the slave trade in Great Britain, and the millions of lives that were redeemed from bondage as a result. “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”
But politics are not ultimate. Politics, at their very best, are flawed, mixed, imperfect, and transitory. No political philosophy or ideology can adequately express the fullness of God’s revelation. No political movement can usher in the rule and reign of God. The kingdom that Jesus inaugurated outlived the government of His day and it has outlived every other one since. Rome fell, but “there was no end to the increase of His government” (Isaiah 9:7). The church that Jesus left behind never pinned their hopes on Rome, neither should we. “Give to God the things that are God’s.”
Politics are not our hope. Never have been, never will be. Our hope is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14).
“Joy to the world! The Lord is come; let earth receive her King.”