It seems as if every politician wants to claim Jesus for himself. This particular election season is no different. As of this writing, we have four Republican candidates for president and the incumbent president.
Of these five men, can you match the candidate with the following professions of faith?
Candidate #1: "…look, anybody who's honest about it knows that no person except Christ has ever been perfect. So I don't claim to be the perfect candidate."
Candidate #2: "I'm a Christian by choice….it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead - being my brothers' and sisters' keeper, treating others as they would treat me. And I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we're sinful and we're flawed and we make mistakes, and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God."
Candidate #3: "Let me be very clear here: I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, and I endeavor every day to follow Him in all I do and in every position I advocate."
Candidate #4: "When [a minister] asked, 'Who is Jesus Christ to you?' [Candidate #4] said, 'My personal Lord and Savior.'"
Candidate #5: Radio interviewer: "We don't need a Jesus candidate, we need an economic candidate." Candidate #5: "My answer to that was we always need a Jesus candidate."
Who made which statement---with the caveat that the Mormon understanding of who Jesus Christ is differs significantly from that of traditional Christianity? I'll reveal the answer in a moment.
Since some of these candidates differ with each other on their views regarding abortion, same sex marriage, the threat of Islamic Jihad, government spending, education, the national debt, judicial philosophy, religious freedom, and so on, we must be discerning in terms of what they really believe and want to implement as policy.
Tragically, it's almost as if saying "I'm a follower of Jesus" is meaningless in the mouth of a politician. Of course, it's not, but some may think so. Meanwhile, a new survey by LifeWay Research of the Southern Baptist convention found that most Americans are more interested in a politician's policies than his professed religion.
Jesus Himself said that many people can profess that they know Him, but what counts is putting their actions with their words. "By their fruits you shall know them."
Recently the world's leading atheist, Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said he thought a prominent American politician---let's call him Mr. Smith (not his real name)---was an atheist, despite his profession to be a Christian.
Why? Because Mr. Smith operates as a functional atheist. As a colleague of mine puts it, "Whatever his claimed religious beliefs, he operates as if they had nothing to do with anything. He gives lip-service to Christianity, but when it comes time to do anything in daily life as a politician, his supposed Christianity plays no part in it."
What does it mean for a candidate to follow Jesus, personally or politically?
First of all, there is a concern for the underdog. Christ told the parable of the Good Samaritan, watching out for the little guy. Here's where politicians disagree---some want to use government to try and enforce that. Others want to let private charity handle that.
He also said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Excellent politics.
Further, Jesus stated, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's." If nothing else, this should argue against the type of religious teaching that if you're really following Him, you'll avoid any political involvement.
Christ reaffirmed the moral law of Moses. That precept alone has incredible implications for politics. God should be #1 in our lives. We should not kill (what does that say about abortion?). We should not commit adultery. We should not steal. We should not lie. We should not covet? (The politics of envy and class-warfare are thus nullified.)
By these rules, we see that every one of our politicians falls short.
Instead of clamoring that Jesus is on our side, I think we should strive to be on His side.
Abraham Lincoln put it best in 1863 when he heard someone remark that he hoped "the Lord was on the Union's side." Here is how Lincoln responded: "I am not at all concerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side."
So what's the answer as to which candidate made which statement? I simply put the quotes in alphabetical order: Gingrich, Obama, Paul, Romney, Santorum.