A New Jersey pastor challenged his congregation to consider "the politics of Jesus" above both Democratic and Republican views on Sunday during a new sermon series in which his congregation will be able to participate in live polling with real-time results during services.
"At election time a lot of churches distribute voter guides. Preachers kind of use the pulpit to tell people how they should vote. And we said, what if we reverse that and ask people what you think?" said Tim Lucas, lead pastor of Liquid Church, on Sunday.
The new series is titled, "Poll: Faith, Politics and the Future of America," and is designed to give the congregation the opportunity to share their views by participating in various politics-related polls, which are conducted via text messaging during the church's services.
Lucas says the political bickering in Washington, D.C., "has never been more toxic" than it is today, and the divide between the two major parties is severe. He hopes, however, to help Christians "elevate" their political conversations by becoming more mindful of Christ's heavenly kingdom and how Jesus handled political issues.
When asked which party they most identified with, the congregation at Liquid Church's main campus was divided – about 60 percent said Republican, 10 percent said Democratic and 30 percent said independent.
Another poll conducted during the service revealed that 72 percent of participants across all of the church's campuses believe economic issues are the most important issues that need to be addressed today, far more so than social issues (19 percent) or foreign policy (9 percent).
Lucas said the economic issue, specifically the issue of taxation, was also prominent during Jesus' time, as is evidenced by the challenge issued to Jesus by the Pharisees and the Herodians in the book of Mark chapter 12. The Pharisees, Lucas said, were like today's religious conservatives, while the Herodians were like those who trust government to come up with solutions to many of society's problems.
"You know you have a revolutionary message when the conservatives and the liberals join forces," said Lucas. "Apparently they both found the message of Jesus so threatening that they tag-teamed to 'catch him in his words.'"
Jesus was asked whether or not the people should pay taxes to Caesar. If he had answered "yes" he would be viewed as a traitor to the Jewish people, but if he said "no" he would be committing a sort of treason against the emperor, Lucas explained.
Instead of saying "yes" or "no," Jesus asked to see a coin that bore the image of Caeser on it, and said "give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." The coin belonged to Caesar because it bore his image, the pastor said, but humans are created in the image of God and as such they should give their lives to Him and rely on Him, not human governments, to better the world around them.
"If you want to change the world, start with yourself. A revolution of one with love, not power, at the heart of it," said Lucas.
In the last poll question of the service, Lucas asked if the members of the congregation would describe Jesus as conservative, liberal or "other." Just over 68 percent of participants across all Liquid Church campuses said "other," while only about 18 percent said liberal and about 14 percent said conservative.
During Jesus' life, Lucas said, "people were confused, because at every turn Jesus defied easy labels and these binary political boxes" that are prevalent today. Jesus is neither a "red" Republican or a "blue" Democrat, the pastor noted, but rather he is purple – the color of royalty – because he has his own kingdom which is based on love and grace.
That love and grace is even meant to be extended by a Christian to his political enemies.
"The whole goal of politics in our country is to demonize, tear down and destroy those who oppose your point of view. Christians ... stop drinking the hater-ade. On the cross Jesus died for his enemies. And when he looked at those who were crucifying him, here was his curse, 'Father, forgive them.'"
For the next three weeks, Liquid Church will be polling the over 2,000 people who attend the church's weekly services on intriguing questions like "Can a Christian vote for a Mormon?" or "How would Jesus handle hot-button issues such as gay marriage and immigration?" Live polling will be conducted at all three of the church's campuses throughout the series.