This entry is part of a series of blogs that connect political volunteering with spiritual themes. These observations come from my current volunteering for a congressional candidate. Today: Finding Christ-like people and actions.
“Where’s Jesus in all of this?” That’s a question that helps me discern what’s righteous, admirable or worthy in life. This has also proved to be a valuable question to ask as Chris and I have worked on a political campaign in our Congressional district.
“Finding Jesus” is more than a mystical concept or activity. Its answers go beyond overt expressions of Christian piety. At a very practical level, when we look at the world around us, we try to discover how Christ’s example and teaching are evident in who and what we see. What we hope to unearth: Where are the character traits that Jesus exemplifies, the attitudes and actions that match his invitations, the life-views that he encouraged?
How do we know these things? The Gospels’ varied testimony and narrative, but also the places in which the rest of the New Testament fills out the meaning of Jesus’ time among us. We examine the witness of Jesus’ followers throughout history, including note-worthy saints in these times as well. We read with appreciation what has been and is being written about Jesus. During worship, we listen carefully to prayers, hymns and sermons. We note the encouraging example of other Christians whose entire being seems Christ-like.
“Where’s Jesus?” has been a helpful standard for the political volunteering that Chris and I are engaged in. We can make better decisions about our own political thoughts, and our eventual decisions about voting when we watch how candidates comport themselves; what they hold to be true; how their lives bear witness to their values and what they invite us to think and do.
It would be easy to throw all politicians into a barrel labeled “NOT Like Jesus!” Much of what we hear and see in candidates’ stated positions, demeanor or personal lifestyles makes it open to unfavorable characterization. Too many office-seekers seem to have buried anything Christ-like in partisan squabbles and pandering to selfishness and anger.
Still, we can see Jesus in political campaigns. We know that many of the candidates—especially those trying out politics for the first time—are sacrificing themselves to seek political office. (And that they are willing continue to give of themselves once in office.) In some campaign materials, we notice necessary righteous indignation about evil, injustice and ungodly values. We hear some candidates calling for a return to civility, love of neighbor, honesty and respect. We see how some candidates appeal to the best—the most Christ-like?—in human nature.
Another place to find Jesus: The people around a candidate, both paid staff and unpaid volunteers. Even if they do not self-identify as Christians, many of the people Chris and I work among are examples of “what Jesus would do.” We experience grace, kindness, forgiveness, commitment to justice and love for the world. We learn from the wisdom of people who are living their lives for the sake of righteousness. Cooperation and collegiality contribute to a strong sense of the greater good—something more important than me-first ways of living. In some cases, the candidates, staff or volunteers are operating within the political arena precisely because of their commitment to Christ, and they’re willing to state those intentions directly and with no apology.
However hidden or apparent, Christ-like attitudes and behaviors are present in this campaign. When we encounter them—or even embody them in our own actions—we remember how God can bless the world through the witness of people who follow Jesus.
We can find Jesus in campaigning!