By Patrick Miller
Who would Jesus vote for? Well, it’s risky to speak for Jesus, but allow me to take an educated guess. At first, I definitely thought that Jesus would do a write in: himself. But then I thought of a major wrinkle, Jesus isn’t an American citizen. Jesus couldn’t vote in America.
Problem solved. No one offended… Except for the dude who painted this:
I am actually trying to make a serious point. Jesus was not a citizen of Rome or any commonwealth during his lifetime. He is only a citizen of heaven. To be even more precise, he is the king over heaven.
What Is Heaven?
Now, when I say “heaven” most people think I’m talking about the place people go after they die. But it’s not what I mean, and never what the Bible means. “Heaven” is the place where God rules and reigns over all creation (Ps. 2:4; 103:19; 123:1). “Heaven” is where Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55-6; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 3:21). It’s the place from whence Jesus will return to earth as King (Phil. 3:20; 1 Thess. 4:17).
When we think of “heaven” we shouldn’t think of the afterlife. We should think politically. Why? Because it’s the throne room and command center of a king who set himself over every Caesar, emperor, king, dictator, prime minister and president. Conceptually, heaven is closer to The White House than the afterlife.
It was nothing short of treason when Paul, a Roman citizen confined in a Roman prison, wrote this to his church in a Roman colony called Philippi:
“Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:21)
He was making the bold claim that King Jesus deserved their political allegiance over Caesar.
If you’ve ever wondered why so many Christians were executed despite practicing a policy of non-violence, paying their taxes, caring for the sick, and giving to the needy… that’s why.
Rome never got their chief allegiance. The emperor’s throne was too small for their king. Sure, they’d give him their taxes. They’d serve him with excellence. And they’d obey his laws faithfully. But they’d never give him their deepest devotion and hope. That was for King Jesus alone.
Citizens of Heaven
No Christian can hope to weather the upcoming political maelstrom without keeping first things first. Jesus is our King. Our primary citizenship is in heaven. We are called to be productive citizens of the countries we live in on this earth too, working tooth and nail for the welfare of our cities and nations.
But we know who we serve. We know who is bringing heaven down. We know our true hope.
For some Christians, the temptation is to mix Jesus with their politics. They equate Jesus with a donkey or an elephant. Aside from the fact that it breaks the first two commandments, this thinking is overly simplistic. Jesus’s kingdom values will never perfectly align with any earthly group.
For other Christians, the temptation is to relegate Jesus to “spiritual things.” We like to pretend he doesn’t care about politics or this world. But never forget that he made this world. And he died to rescue it. Jesus cares.
For others of us, we desperately want the kingdom of God… we just don’t want the King. We’ve replaced King Jesus with a political messiah who we trust to somehow make the world the way it should be.
Politicians can do both great good and great harm. The one thing they can’t do, in the ultimate sense, is bring God’s love, justice and mercy on earth as in heaven. Moving forward, let’s work with those who seek to bring about aspects of these things. But let’s never mistake our elected officials and their policies for salvation.
So maybe the fact that Jesus can’t vote helps us out. We should be great citizens. We can be patriotic, and may vote on the left or the right. But we must submit our thoughts and values and votes to our king. We must think carefully about our values in light of his teaching. And we must beware buying into the new religion of politics.