Jesus on the Stump: The Politics Of Jesus Part 2

We love to imagine Jesus on the stump and us as his stump speech writer, sitting somewhere joyfully behind the scenes as Christ blast away at political opponents. Few people though, when thinking about how Christ would weigh in on a certain political hot-button topic stop to think about the actual politics of the place and time Jesus existed. Instead, we extricate Jesus from any historical context, put him in a blue blazer with a copy of the Federalist papers in his hand and espouse what his views on a host of political topics would be based on our own highly biased and tightly corralled modern opinions.

The context of Jesus’ social and political world must be considered if one views context of value. And we must. Jesus a first century Jew, was from a failed theocracy, a political system meant to have God as its sovereign and its priest and judges acting as mediators of that supreme hierarchy. Instead, Israel demanded a king and got one. Check that, they got many and most all gave them the same results, oppression and more loss of inherited territory. By the time Jesus hits the scene, Kings David, Solomon and Joash are long gone and the nation had been upended and conquered by one of the most dominant societies of all time, the Romans. (Say it again, and this time with the Monty Python accent “The Romans”.)

At the same time, as you will see throughout the book of Acts, a secondary shadow government, run by the Jewish ruling elite and council were also trying to carry on with a government within a government and implementing Jewish laws under the very watchful eyes of the Romans. This is something that  Rome allowed as they had become masters of the art of conquering and knew that some form of self-rule must be allowed to stem revolt.

Like the church today, Jesus found himself on the razor’s edge of being part of two political systems, both vying for hearts, minds and territory.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when trying to descend into the wormhole and assume the understanding of Jesus politics is to remember that Jesus was not running for office.

The temptation to make Christ a political figure for one’s purposes is a strong potion. It is as true today as it was back in Jesus day. In trying to damn Jesus to the cross, the Jewish leaders protested to Pilate that Jesus was declaring himself a king trying to overthrow Roman rule. On another occasion, the Jewish people, so enamored by Christ’ power tried to make him king by force. Many believe that Judas, Peter and the other disciples followed Jesus at first not for the kingdom he was offering, but for the earthly one that they imagined. This illusion would be dismantled on the night Jesus allowed himself to be led away for conviction.

Thus, before we get into messianic policy making, we must come to a reckoning with the fact that while Jesus actions and words cataclysmically rocked the political world of its day, Jesus himself was not political, at least not in the way that we understand politics. Here again we come to another question. If Jesus was not intentionally political, than what would the politics of Jesus be?

The Politics Of Jesus

As I am getting ready to embark on a new sermon series called, The Politics of Jesus, I am wanting to use my social media platform to test some of my thoughts before I take them to the pulpit.

Spoiler Alert: Before we start, let me state that when we talk about the politics of Jesus, we need to make sure not to box Christ into our conceptions and political ideals. Meaning, we must extricate ourselves and our minds from the American, British or whatever political system you happen to be a citizen of.

If we are going to ask ourselves about Jesus particular political positions, we must try and comprehend it from a multivariate analysis and with fresh baby skin. How would you answer the question if you lived in Spain in the fifteenth century or were a field worker in Brazil sixty years ago or a first century Egyptian?

Until we can do that, becoming as unbiased as possible, we have little chance of escaping the bondage and perhaps tyranny of our own isolated conclusions. This is the bubble that so many people live in today. Here, in this ideological space, there is only one reality, your reality and to hell with the rest. When we lack the ability to identify and empathize with someone other than ourselves, we have little chance of ever defining, defending or even finding truth. In the words of Francis of Assisi, “Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.” Freeing ourselves from our own ideologies and intentionally seeking to take on another person’s reality and or social space as best we can for the sake of truth is perhaps one of the greatest charities of all.

Bringing it closer to home. Can you imagine yourself as a lesbian who is deeply in love with another woman and is being told that this is an abhorrence to God? Can you feel the pain of perhaps losing the relationship to follow a different path? Or, if you are black and lived in the South during the Confederacy, can you picture yourself as a white slave owner who was truly trying to follow God, perhaps in ignorance to the truth of freedom, but legitimately seeking to be a “good” person? Or, perhaps you are Chinese and were witness to the Rape of Nanking, one of the least known and most devastating genocides of our time. Can you frame yourself a young enthusiastic Japanese soldier, who entered into his countries service with joy and naivete, not knowing that he would soon be hoisting Chinese babies on his bayonet in a macabre game of keep away?

Jordan Peterson, the Canadian firebrand, clinical psychologist whom I saw two nights ago at the Balboa Theater in San Diego has an interesting challenge. He encourages people to imagine the worst you. “Imagine yourself as a Nazi” he says. You protest. I would never be a Nazi. Ha! And that is the first step in becoming one he says. Do you think that the fresh faced seventeen year old German youth ever pictured him or herself at the death camps of Auschwitz gassing a Jew. No, most did not. Rather they got their incrementally, step by step.

Back to our starting place for understanding the political views of Jesus. When we demonize those we disagree with, we put a robe of virtue upon ourselves that is self-vindicating, and can lead to immense horrors. By imagining the worst you that you could be and defining the steps on how you might get there, we become a little less stable, perhaps a bit more contrite, can we even say more human. To know your weakness is perhaps your greatest strength.

For our own purposes of comprehending the politics of Jesus, we must realize that Jesus was not an American, having self-limited his divine knowledge (Philippians 2) he probably had no conceptualization of it. No Constitution, no free speech, no Bill of Rights. None of it. Rather, Jesus was a Jew, living under Roman tyranny in an occupied territory. Here, slavery was law, healthcare was non-existent, pedophilia was legally regulated and religious corruption was rife. Now, put yourself there, in that place. A place filled with poverty and misery, a place where public executions happened almost daily and widows suffered in the streets, and ask yourself. What are the politics of Jesus?

Stuff Churches Like: Top 10 List

One of my favorite things to do is watch Christian church culture morph and change. I’m not talking about the core stuff like evangelism, mission or our views on the atonement, but rather the not so important stuff, the stuff we like, until we don’t. Here are some of our current favorites. If your church scores at least 5 of these 10 you can consider yourself #BLESSED.

10. Fair Trade Coffee Coffee Sourced From Indigenous People Groups:

It started in the 80s with Folgers and a styrofoam cup. In the 90’s it was all about the in-church coffee shops like “Holy Grounds”, “HeBrews” and “Jehova Java”. Today we have gone missional with our coffee and are fighting global injustice with every drop.

9.The Episodic Sermon Series:

Who wants to spend 68 weeks in the book of Numbers. Not me. Rather, give me short punchy 6-8 week sermons filled with challenge and invitation. And by the way, keep um under 28 minutes and make sure that I’m the star.

8. Beards and Hair:

You would have to imagine that any man who aspires to be a pastor but cannot grow a full beard or is thinning is definitely questioning his calling at this point in the game.

7. Motion Graphics:

Nothing says “Building Campaign” like rolling out the motion graphics video. We love simple, animation with smooth voice overs to get that ground breaking event kick-started.


6. Livestock

No big church holiday event is complete without livestock. Give us our petting zoos and full blown Christmas extravaganzas complete with live elephants. While ceremonial livestock was also true for Isrealites in the time of Moses, it seems that a sacrificial bull might have the children running for the exits and PETA at our door.

5. Smoke And Fog

I recently heard at a church conference that we don’t want to give them church, we want to give them an experience. Unfortunately a few weekends ago a local toddler experienced emotional trauma after not being able to find his parents in the service for 26 minutes.

4. Found Wood Backdrops:

Pretty sure that we are nearing the end of the pallet wood backdrop trend. After 10 years or so of making our cold warehouse churches feel like warm Alpine lodges, it won’t be long until the youth group is burning them down at the beach this summer.

3. The Edison Light:

Ok, I like these, but you need 126 of them to produce enough ambient light to read a book by at night. I wonder when really sterile white LED lights will become in and we think that having churches that look like operating rooms will be cool? #HeIsTheLight

2. Gold Rush Era Worship Leaders:

I’m pretty sure that most worship leader job descriptions these day include smithing, biscuit making and proficiency in playing the saw.

1. Jesus

While the church loves its trends and chasing the next fad, most of all I still find that churches love Jesus and he will put up with all of our shenanigans if we keep the first thing first.




Being Awesome In 2016 Part 1

Bat utility belt? Check! Cape? Check! Gray tights and bat mask? Double check!
I was close to eight when my parents got me the full batman costume. It was not like today’s flimsy outfits whose inferior quality regularly reminds you that you are anything but transcendent. No, this was circa 1970s American made livery. It had the weight and texture of a Roman centurion’s tunic. More importantly, it had soul. The moment you put it on, imagination became reality, mortality became superhuman and the world that is was transformed into the world that could be. It was awesome, but more importantly, you had become awesome!
There’s nothing quite like the magic of being a child. Here in the shadowlands between birth and reclamation by earth and way before you had to figure out what your purpose was, you could busy yourself in just being the awesome and fascinated you.
Childlike awesomeness is nothing like the adult version. Adult awesomeness lacks the ability to separate itself from comparison. Its value is often tethered to an emotional algorithm of me vs. them. It repeatedly asks, “Am I more awesome then they?” Nothing about this question is awesome. It’s a question asked from a platform of insecurity.
Adult awesomeness also fails at being able to run around the backyard for an hour by yourself dressed like Batman or Super Girl and fully entranced in the wonder of living beyond the margins of reality.
Adult awesomeness continually pings you with thoughts of your own meaninglessness, worthlessness and a host of other “nesses” that scream, Wake up, you dreamer, and get back to your treadmill of fear worry, guilt and concern. Stop this whimsy!”
Adult awesomeness fails to live in the grandeur of its prefix “Awe”. Awe, the ancient Nordic word whose root means something akin to running into battle against a stone dragon yelling “Aarghhh!”
Awe is so awesome that it is practically indescribable. It is a poultice of wonder, beauty, hope, power, love and imagination so blended together that each of its individual components has been lost to an even higher manifestation.
Awe is experienced by the newborn baby’s unfused brain that cannot discern the difference between taste, sight, touch, smell or feel, but rather harvest them in one dynamic and awesome sensation.
I believe living in awe is not only part of the human experience, but core to its fulfillment. Today’s world peddles a cheap form of awe. Awe in the form of fame, money, power, sexual experience or distraction beg you to accept the minimal returns that they offer and call them awe.
I believe that God has more for you than that. God offers you the whole of life and asks you to dive in deeply and experience it all in one passionate non-discernable experience that is better known as abundant life. He calls you to live a life of transcendence rather that one which is transactional. He is inviting you into the awe-filled and awesome life.
For the last few days of 2015, I want to take a journey with you to explore the space of what it means to be awesome. No, this is not a trek into self-aggrandizement; that’s what Facebook is for. Rather, this is an exploration into learning how to radically experience life and all that God’s creative world has on offer. It is a chance to reclaim our wonder, our hopes, our joy. More importantly it is a time to come a bit closer to the God who looks at you and thinks, Wow! How absolutely awesome is this child of mine!
Check out other books by Adam Stadtmiller

Exploring the space of being awesome in 2016!

A few weeks ago I was sitting with a friend and asked him what his hopes and dreams were for his spiritual life. He said, with the utmost authenticity, “I just want to be awesome!” It got me thinking about what it means to be awesome. Thus, I’ll be exploring how to be awesome for 10 days before the end of this year. I hope you will join me for the ride in learning how to be Awesome!

Evangelism and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit


Evangelicals have a conundrum on their hands. The very title suggest that they have a public faith, but few people feel equipped our empowered to make Jesus real to others in common everyday places they live. Pastor Adam Stadtmiller again breaks down the baptism of the Holy Spirit and it fundamental purpose. Evangelism.