Many Christians believe that America is a “Christian Nation” and pray for presidents who are Christians. On the surface this is a nice sentiment. After all, if Jesus is Lord of our lives, shouldn’t a Christian be the President of the United States?
Jesus For President
The word “Christian” means Christ-like. So to make claims that America is a Christian Nation, or to want a Christian President, is to say that America is like Jesus or we want a President who is like Jesus. These are both great things to want. What if instead of having a President that is like Jesus, we just had Jesus as President instead?
To find out how Jesus would run a nation we don’t have to wonder, we can just look at his longest recorded sermon: the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, 7; Luke 6:17-49). In this sermon Jesus shows us what life inside his nation would look like. Between his teachings and his example, we can learn a lot about how he would run a nation.
So our “what if” experiment begins: what would America look like with Jesus as President?
A Jesus Way of Running a Nation
Jesus, the most Christ-like person in existence, would likely make a few changes once he stepped into the Presidential office. After all, Jesus said a lot of crazy things— blessed are the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers. Let’s take a look at a small sampling of his most famous sermon to get a glimpse of the changes he would try to make.
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
Luke 6:20, 24
No longer would the rich be able to hold onto their wealth, the poor would now be blessed. He would instruct us to give away our belongings and provide for the poor (Acts 2:45). To the richest he would instruct them to give away everything they own (Matthew 19:21). Jesus would tell us to distribute our wealth. All of America’s resources would be diverted to feeding, clothing, and housing the poor.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
These funds being diverted for the poor would mean that our expensive military would have to be dismantled. We would have no need for it anyways since he would shockingly tell us that we must love our enemies instead of kill them (Matthew 5:43-45). Yes— abortion, capital punishment, and war would be abolished (read more here). Americans would cry out, “we must have a military!”, but Jesus would remind us that if we are a Christian Nation, a military would be forbidden.
Before you know it, Jesus would ban the Pledge of Allegiance. He would inform the nation that a pledge is forbidden (Matthew 5:33-34, 37). All this would present quite a problem for those in Washington D.C., and even we may begin to second guess if we really want Jesus as our President.
Impeach the President!
How would the other branches of Government react to all the policies of Jesus? How would the media react? How would the public react? We certainly couldn’t compel the rich to give to the poor! That would undermine the Capitalism that this nation was built on. We certainly couldn’t dismantle the military! That would leave us open to attack and we would be defenseless.
Most would consider Jesus to be a fool and tell him to mind his own business — to go back to “saving souls” and not to meddle in the affairs of running the real world. Maybe we wouldn’t want Jesus for President. Maybe we wouldn’t want a Christian for President. Maybe we wouldn’t want to be a Christ-like (Christian) nation.
Some Christians admit that they aren’t so much concerned with having a President that is a Christian, they would rather have a non-Christian who is competent and qualified. Most likely, this is because they believe in the systems of power that empires rely on. They may not actually believe in the Jesus-way of running the world.
We must remember that by becoming a “Christian” we are claiming that Jesus is King and his ways are the best ways— for everyone!
Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword
So what hope is there that someone like Jesus will ever become President? Well, the Bible says that Satan holds power and authority over all the nations, including America (Luke 4:5-7). All over Scripture we are told that the devil rules the world (1 John 5:19; Ephesians 2:2; John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). So despite wishes for the United States to be a “Christian Nation”, it can never be.
The reality is that a nation built on violence, slavery, and genocide cannot survive without it. Ironically, empires of the world also always cause their own destruction (Matthew 26:52). If you look around to see if the Roman Empire still exists, you won’t find it. Every empire falls and all their citizen’s patriotism for their country ended up being misplaced. There is only one nation that will never fall.
That is the good news; there already is a Christian Nation with a Christian President, it is called the Kingdom of God. Equally good news is that we can become citizens of this Christian Nation. The Kingdom of God isn’t built on using violence, but rather the self-sacrificial love of the cross for enemies.
Empires (like America) and Christ’s nation (the Kingdom) are not compatible. The two are rival nations that work at cross purposes.
The way America operates and the way Christ’s nation operates is very different (here are five differences). Jesus would never seek to become the President of the United States because its system has to be torn up and thrown away in order to start over. Jesus would never seek the Presidency because he works to change the heart, not enforce change through laws and punishment. Jesus would never run for President because he is already the President of another nation: the Kingdom of God.
Jesus stands with an outstretched hand and begs us to abandon our current allegiances and become citizens of his nation.