Marsh, an ELCA pastor, is an assistant to the bishop of the Southeast Michigan Synod, with responsibilities that include assisting congregations with justice and advocacy ministries. This is the sixth in a 12-part series, â€œJesus and justice: An exploration of right relationship.â€�
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines politics as “the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy.” Marcus Borg, historical Jesus scholar, defines politics as “concern with the shape and shaping of any human community.” Both definitions imply that politics has a great deal to do with the guiding and shaping of how governmental policy and action—or inaction—influences the welfare of the community which that particular political system exists to serve.
By most accounts, Jesus of Nazareth was a man who seemed very concerned with the welfare of the human community in general and the Jewish community of his time in particular. Jesus taught that the kingdom of God intended for all to share love and healing, joy and justice, peace and abundance. He learned these things from the law and the prophets, the Scriptures in which he was immersed all his life.
However, like you and me, Jesus also lived in a time and place where the intended values of God’s kingdom weren’t the government’s agenda. Many of his recorded teachings and actions have been interpreted by respected biblical scholars to be scathing critiques of the policies of both the Roman Empire and the Jewish temple.
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