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Jesus for President!

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One of the best and most inspiring books I’ve read concerning Kingdom Politics is Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. In it, they write about what it means to pledge allegiance to a slaughtered Lamb and to cultivate political imagination and creativity in a world filled with violence and hatred. Because of the American presidential election this year, Claiborne and Haw are going on a tour to campaign for Jesus. Below are some excerpts from interviews with Claiborne at Read the Spirit and Sojourners:

Shane Claiborne. Photo: Speaking of Faith

Shane Claiborne. Photo: Speaking of Faith

The whole idea of Jesus for President really started back before the 2004 election when we began thinking and talking seriously about making a faithful Christian witness to the State. For years, we had read books, studied this and eventually Chris Haw and I were led to create Jesus for President. It was released as a book for the 2008 election and now [2012] we’re back with a book and a DVD  that was filmed in many of the places we stopped along the road with this message.

Even though we’ve been working on this for some years now, we realize that this message is even more relevant than when we began. This is post-Religious Right America and we are seeing a whole lot of evangelicals and political misfits who are trying to find their way to new decisions about faith and politics. The old evangelical and Religious Right messages just don’t work anymore for a lot of us. And I know that the questions we are raising today are really touching people’s hearts.

There are a lot of good things that have been stirring up conversations across the country. The Occupy movement raised people’s awareness that 1 percent of people in our world own way more than their share of the world’s stuff. Now, people are more aware than ever of the deep and growing disparity between the rich and the poor. You can’t read the Bible and not realize that situation matters to God.

We’ve also got militarism and violence going on every where you look. We need to remember that Jesus also lived in a world where there were wars and rumors of wars everywhere he looked. It’s almost eerie sometimes to think about how much the situation in his world with the Roman empire was like our world with empires today. The question is: What does it mean to follow the Prince of Peace—and to really love our enemies—in our world today? That’s what we want people to get people talking about.

Our goal is to seek first the kingdom of God. What would it look like if Jesus were in charge of my block, of our city, of our country, our world? That’s what we get to imagine when we dream dreams of the kingdom on earth. And we get some pretty good glimpses of what that looks like from the Gospels: the poor are blessed and the rich are sent away empty, the mighty are cast from their thrones, the lowly are lifted, the peacemakers and the meek are blessed, and the proud-hearted are scattered (Luke 1:51–53).

And we’ll work with anyone who wants to work with us as we try to get to the kingdom—whether that looks like reducing poverty or eliminating abortions, doing something meaningful for the environment, changing bad laws, or trying to make sure the most vulnerable are cared for.

But we do have a peculiar way in which we hope. When I see posters with Barack Obama’s name with the word hope under it, I cringe. We are setting ourselves up for disappointment if our hope is built on anything less than Jesus.

So when it comes to voting, I look at it not as a place to put our hope but a battle with the principalities and powers of this world. Voting is damage control. We try to decrease the amount of damage being done by those powers. And for the Christian, voting is not something we do every four years. We vote every day. We vote by how we spend money and what causes we support. We vote by how much gas we use and what products we buy. We align ourselves with things all the time. We pledge allegiance every day with our lives. The question is, Do those things line up with the upside-down kingdom of our God—where the poor, the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers are declared “blessed”?

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The author

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Check out my YouTube channel!

A Living Alternative

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