“Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered. “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world- to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” ~John 18:35-38
2020 has been in effect for exactly 3 days at the time of my writing this. And at least twice already I have heard mention that this year is, in fact, a presidential election year. My first thought was, ‘Time to take another year long Facebook hiatus!” But really, even that won’t completely shut out all of the political commentary. So instead, I have determined to steep my mind in truth in order to prepare for the inevitable bombardment of social media posts. As I do so, I aim to meditate on Scripture and allow my heart and mind to find peace and grace in Christ and in his truth. I challenge you to do the same, and if you’ll bear with me, to start with a reflection on the passage above.
Jesus has been brought before Pilate. He is being falsely accused of blasphemy and knows that it will lead to a painful death by crucifixion. Yet, Jesus does not take this opportunity before Pilate to share his concerns about the actions of the Roman government or the fact that the Jewish leaders have gotten completely out of control. Instead he says,
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” You see, even in the midst of political corruption and chaos, his focus remains on the eternal, the kingdom that is to come. He also expects the same of those who follow him. He confidently claims that his servants are not out fighting. For that is not what they are here on this earth to do.
“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth…Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”“
Here Jesus clearly states that he did not come into this world to overtake or replace current government leaders. Rather, his purpose (and presumably that of his followers) is to bear witness to the truth. His response leads Pilate to ask the question “What is truth?” Of course, as Christians we know that truth is found in Jesus. That he is the true and only way to God the Father, sent to die for our sins and rise again. This leads me to ask myself, how often does my behavior during times of political division lead others to ask ‘What is truth?’ Will you allow me to say something that might just sting a little? And I say this to myself along with you, dear reader. How many people have been led to an interest in the truth of the gospel based on how I relate to politics and politicians? How many of the pictures and texts I post about the ‘other’ party or even my own have made people want to know Christ more? How many of my posts related to politics have left people in awe and wonder the way Jesus’ presence did with Pontius Pilate that day?
I fear that rather than leading people to ask how we can remain so at peace and resist all urges to attack or defend our own selves, our involvement in politics has left many with a bad taste in their mouth and absolutely no desire to hear this ‘truth’ we profess to believe. Let me be clear that I do not believe it is wrong for a Christian to vote. I do not believe that it goes against Jesus’ teachings for one to choose a candidate based on issues like protecting life. However, I simply cannot imagine that God receives much glory or Jesus much joy in seeing his followers fighting (or choosing fighting words) on social media. On the contrary, Jesus says His followers will NOT engage in the fight. Because he knows his kingdom lies elsewhere.
Just before this scene in John 18, we see Peter cutting of a soldier’s ear. Peter was angry and rightly so. He wanted to defend his Teacher and dear friend. And he was willing to put up a fight! But Jesus quickly put a stop to his actions. He mended the soldier’s ear. And used Peter to proclaim his word to the nations and bring many to ask ‘What is truth?’. So if you, like myself, have fallen into the trap of ‘ear cutting’, if you posted or reposted unsavory pictures or comments on Facebook involving ‘other’ parties or those who support them: Jesus is ready. He’s willing to take all those cut of ears and mend them. He’s willing to make your ‘political’ testimony one that leads others to the only real truth. And that my friends, is good news for us all. Praise God for the gospel! And for his grace in times of elections.