WASHINGTON – Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered the sermon at the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk Harry and Meghan, called for “unselfish living” in “the way of Jesus” across the nation and around the world.
Curry, who led a candlelight vigil at the White House on Thursday evening, said Christianity is not an “ideology” or political party and a renewed focus must be placed on the teachings of Jesus.
“Maybe the spirit is helping us reclaim Christianity, not as ideology, not as anybody’s political party – Jesus can’t be bought – but to re-center Christianity and have it named and heard and understood as grounded in the teachings of Jesus, who said blessed are the poor, blessed are the poor in sprit, the Jesus who taught us love God and love your neighbor,” Curry said at the National Press Club on Friday alongside other religious leaders who are part of the “Reclaiming Jesus” initiative.
According to the official Reclaiming Jesus website, the religious leaders who are part of the coalition “reject ‘America first’ as a theological heresy for followers of Christ,” referring to President Trump’s campaign theme.
“In this moment of political, moral, and theological crisis in America we are deeply concerned about the resurgence of white nationalism, racism, and xenophobia; misogyny; attacks on immigrants, refugees, and the poor; the regular purveying of falsehoods and consistent lying by the nation’s highest leaders; and moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule,” it reads.
In an interview with PJM, Curry emphasized that the “unselfish way of Jesus is the way to life for us” as local communities and as a country.
“Matthew 22 is the holy week. Jesus is heading to the cross. He’s about to sacrifice his life, not for himself, but for others, which is a way of showing us this is what love looks like. Greater love has no one than this, as he says in John’s gospel, but to give up his life for his friends. Jesus’ active sacrifice, his giving up his life, was actually showing what love is,” he said.
“Love is sacrificial, unselfish living, and that unselfish way of Jesus is the way to life for us as communities, for us as a nation and for us as a world. It doesn’t mean we agree on everything, no, no, no, but it does mean we agree about this – that we are to love each other as brothers and sisters and to be in community with each other and to work through our differences with each other because Jesus is the way,” he added.
Curry was asked for his opinion of evangelical Christian leaders and voters who are standing by President Trump.
“I’m not a politician. I’m a preacher. And so what I can tell you and what I can say is it is my hope and prayer that all of us, as Christians, would first ground ourselves and center ourselves, if you will, on Jesus Christ, on Jesus of Nazareth and his teachings, his spirit, his life. Jesus is the center of my life. I’ve given my life to him and I just want to serve him, but above all I want to follow him,” he said.
“I believe we must clearly define Christianity as following the teachings and the way of Jesus and the most important teaching that Jesus identified, both with his words, but also with his very life itself, was in that conversation with the lawyer in Matthew 22 who asked what was the greatest law in all of Moses’ teachings? And Jesus responded by saying, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.’ This is the first and great commandment and the second is just like it,” he added.
Curry continued, “You should love your neighbor as yourself, and then Jesus adds on these two hang all the law and prophets. When Jesus said that he was saying on these two teachings, love of God and love of neighbor, everything that God wants is summed up there – that’s God’s will, that’s God’s dream, that’s God’s intention, that’s the formula for life itself.”
Some leaders at the event referred to themselves as “progressive Christians,” but Curry said he does use that term to describe his views.
“I don’t describe myself as a progressive or a non-progressive Christian,” he said. “I describe myself as a follower of Jesus Christ – that’s all I want to be.”