Do I Have to Become a Republican to Believe in Jesus?
In approaching this question, a word of caution is in order. Although the sharp rise of American evangelical political activism since the 1980s has been largely harnessed by the Republican party, the idea that “Reagan-follower” and “Jesus-follower” have become almost interchangeable labels in the minds of some people ought not to mislead us.
Be that as it may, the very thought that one political party, Republican or Democrat, would claim to be the favored political party of Jesus himself is deeply misguided. To take this topic seriously, one must begin by saying that the relationship of activism to ideology, and ideology to faith is complex. Much activism along the spectrum from left to right consists of political ideology in search of a religious claim to back it up. This is a case of the tail wagging the dog. Many seek to hijack the eternally true claims of the Holy Scriptures in service to another, more specialized interest, thereby making the Scriptures the servant of our pet agendas. Instead, we should allow the Bible to play its proper role in shaping our worldview and priorities.
The faith described in the New Testament stands for a humanity in which all differences and relationships are resolved as they finally come into obedience to the truth of the Good News according to Yeshua. The truth about who God is and what he has revealed to us in both Testaments must stand above all ideological and tribal affiliations. The revealed Word of God must be allowed to correct, challenge, and inform political ideologies, and never the other way around. No political party is God’s party; he is in a class unto himself. The real question we must ask ourselves is whether our hearts, our actions, our thoughts, and our lifestyles align with him.
This is the message of Jesus—to love and serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with our whole hearts, never attaching our hearts to the political ideologies of this world. We are looking for something more holy, more spiritual, and more satisfying to the soul. This is what He cares about.