Andrew Fiala (On Ethics July 30), regarding the sorry state of American politics, cited two commonly misunderstood sayings of Jesus.
Questioners attempted to trap Jesus by using a Roman coin depicting the “divine” emperor to ask if it was lawful to pay taxes with it. To say yes would break the commandment against such images. To say no would provoke the Romans. Jesus said to give Caesar what belongs to Caesar, implying the coin but no more. Everything else, and in the end, everything, belongs to God.
Similarly, saying his kingdom was not of this world doesn’t mean, as is often misinterpreted, out of this world – otherworldly or apolitical. In John’s gospel, “the world” rarely means the physical world – but the world’s values.
Jesus’ reign turns those values upside down. The poor are rich. Mourners rejoice. Peacemakers are heroes. The humble inherit. To follow Jesus is to live very much in this world but not by its values: fame, fortune, power, revenge.
Christianity is inherently political but not partisan. No party, ideology, government, military, nothing but God, deserves Christians’ full allegiance. And all the “others” among us – the widow, the orphan, the poor, the foreigner, the exploited and victimized – matter.
Kim Leslie, Clovis