Christianity and Politics

Politics have become an obsession in the daily existence of the American public. It has become a mine field of innuendo, “alternative facts”, and lines in the sand. People who have been tolerant and accepting have become divisive and antagonistic. Neighbors are pitted against neighbor. Cultural, racial and religious differences have been accentuated to the point of explosive confrontations. The saddest thing that is occurring is that it can be noted particularly amongst those who seem to call themselves Christians.

The past presidential election cycle of 2016 has been of a straining note. I have had the unfortunate experience of witnessing political messages delivered from the pulpit before but never at this as intense and pervasive quantity. I have become rather sick of the whole sortid mess as have a lot of others on both sides of the political landscape. On further analysis it appears as if nothing truly ever changes. It remains virtually the same old same old with different titles and players. The game is exactly the same. The intensity of it all has become my way or the highway attitude with a disheartening dash of I have gotten mine and that is all that counts. Most disturbing in the political arena has been statements that one’s values should not stand in the way of national/business interests. That alone would make economics the only factor in deciding national or business interests. Where are Christian values in all of this? What is happening Christian circles with these trends?

Christianity was supposed to be the counter culture to the envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath that are ever present in the daily corrupted existence of humanity or so we were told. Instead Christianity has become just another representation of it all because of this marriage of politics and religion. Some Christians constantly desire the things and experiences that someone else has while doing little but expecting it all to be handed to them. They are excessive in ongoing consumption not just with food and drink but rushing to buy the latest and supposed greatest next consumer must haves. They are uncontrollable in their longing for what others have and complain that it has not been given to them. There is excessive view of one’s self thinking that they alone count without the regard for others. They have become lazy and have failed to act on anything let alone utilize their talents for the good of others. It has gotten to the point that some have become uncontrollable in their feelings of anger and hate toward others for no apparent reason, or thought about what, who or how they should be as followers of Jesus.

This is not an indictment of a particular age group as some might have you think, but covers all ages.

We need to examine this situation fully and come to some sort of process for breaking this cycle. I have thought about this for some time and have done some research to begin to turn myself and hopefully those who I might be able to influence to change the direction and definitions of what it is to be a follower of Jesus.

To start we have to look at what politics was and has become.

The origin of the word politic (as stated by the Online Etymology Dictionary) comes from the Latin word politicus which has with it the meaning “of citizens or the state, civil, civic” and also from the Greek politikos “of citizens, pertaining to the state and its administration; pertaining to public life.” No matter how you look it at it its origin has the implication that politics is how the citizens of a particular community interact with one another in public life for the common good.

Unfortunately those definitions have drifted from the origin of their meaning. Politics has devolved into a meaning that now has everything to do with how to gain, maintain, and hold power of a government (local, state, country or world). It is about having influence to move people, places and things favorable to an individual or group of individual’s exclusive benefit.

Obviously this is nothing new. This has been the cycle of humanity for some time.

What has this to do with Christianity? It is a lot more than you would suspect especially in light of today’s intertwining of politics and religion.

Christianity was started on the outside of the walls of the city and the walls of the temple. It was because it was not welcomed or wanted by those inside the walls of earthly power and authority. It was countercultural because it was more than just a series of practices and public displays of what it was to be considered pious and godly. Technically it was started by an itinerant (someone who travels from place to place) teacher who had no place to live or a building to hold regular meetings. Although rooted in the Hebrew tradition and understanding of God, it was to be an outside of the wall movement. It was more than the letter of the law and was to become the Spirit of the law of love.  It was to speak to the moral and ethical conditions and turn them from a corrupt earthly bound system to one based on eternal Godly Kingdom principles.

It was not embraced by the then holders of the body politic either in the Sanhedrin or the Roman Senate. It challenged the powers that be because it was not about power over a people but an embracing of all in the equality of the love of God and offering the kingdom of God to all. It was viewed as a fringe sect of the Hebrew faith (similar to the Zealots or those of Qumran because its existence threatened the political structure) whose followers were eventually ejected and rejected from the walls of authority and religious rule. Some wished and hoped it would be a part of the Zealot movement to over throw the Roman occupational forces but that was not to be. It was viewed largely as a movement of the poor and enslaved and because of it the wealthy looked at suspiciously (although some of the followers had considerable wealth). It was in fact persecuted from all sides. It belonged to no one element of society but to all who would embrace it. It was to speak from the Kingdom of God principles not as a government agency.

It was a moral and ethical movement rooted in love – love of God, love of humanity and love of all creation. It was to be a demonstrable way of existence for the freeing of humanity and all of creation from its corruption back to its original intention.  Unfortunately it was to develop into something that would become a powerful political force which could be manipulated to keep the masses off balance, and easily controlled. If you fed the masses, kept them entertained and finally provided them with a code of conduct they could easily buy into that would validate the earthly powers, you could control an entire population. (Check out the Roman concept of bread and circus.)

It began to take full political implications with Constantine, the Roman Emperor who supposedly converted to Christianity. (Scholars are still not totally convinced that he was an actual convert as opposed to a political opportunist.) I won’t go into it all here but you can easily look up the information regarding it. Constantine manipulated Christianity into the Roman system of control and governance. It became a state religion with the means and power of authority over the people. Constantine even placed the hierarchy of the previously pagan Roman religion over the newly formed and approved state religion.

By the time we reach what is called the Reformation, Christianity is still little more than the extension (exceedingly corrupt extension) of the feudal governmental system. As the King/Queen of the country was – so were the people. Not to be of the same denomination or religion sect as the ruling aristocracy was considered to be a direct threat to the throne. It amounted to treason. If the person on the throne was Roman Catholic – so was the country. So if the powers that be were Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican, or some other denomination, the people of that country were also expected to be that or else suffer the consequences. If you look at English history you can see the swing back and forth between Roman Christianity and Anglican with the tumultuous results of the swing even through today.

Wars and civil strife marked the period of time from Jesus to the Reformation.  These wars and civil conflicts appeared to be religious in nature but are really over power and control of trade, prestige, property and money. Religion was and still is an easy way to manipulate the power structures of a civilization.

During and after the time of the Reformation, power struggles erupted over which denomination would control the governmental agencies and seats of authority. Bibles were often wrapped in the flags of those countries as a mean to suppress the people by manipulation of interpreting the bible to give divine authority to rule. And the list goes on and on regarding the political corruption of the gospel message to suit those who sought to gain, maintain, and hold power of the government. It became a religion from the throne of man for the purposes of personal gain. Perhaps an oversimplification but you get the point. This is not an indictment of any economic structure or policy. These are but tools. It is not money that is the issue but the love of money and power that becomes the manipulative.

The founding of the United States was a noble attempt to separate religion and government from the intertwining manipulation and corruption of political power. Although religious principles were to be a part of moral and ethical foundation, they were not intended to be a mandated state religion. People were to be allowed to practice their religious beliefs or lack thereof as they saw fit without the interference or interjection of governmental control. This was not always the case from state to state or region to region but this was the theory. Religion was allowed to speak to the issues of politics but is not allowed to mandate adherence to its interpretation. It was to be a check and balance between the two guiding elements of the people so that a consensus could be arrived at.

However, no matter how noble the intention the application has been anything but true to the principle. It seems to be a constant struggle to see who has the most power over the minds and hearts of the people to influence the outcome of how life is carried out. It has become a game of hide and seek for both sides of the fence that separates religion from politics. Individuals on both side of the fence have sought to exert pressure and have gotten to a point where it has become a “my way or the highway” approach. Political parties have taken up the banner for or against religion that would suit their particular need for power and influence. Various factions of Christianity have wrapped themselves in the flag and political party affiliation in what amounts to an unholy matrimony of power and influence. The rise of the “moral majority” during the 1970’s marked a tremendous injection of politics as a religion into the fabric of life.  It was a literal marriage of the Christian conservative right to the Republican Party by Jerry Falwell in 1979.

It was an excellent ploy politically. The cry for God and country could be heard ringing from Christian pulpits and Political lecterns. It was a unified call to arms. It was well timed for a country that was split apart over the war in Vietnam and the rise of a youth born rebellion that was supposed to be counter culture, anti-capitalist and anti-establishment. What better way to manipulate the “silent majority” to vote against what was billed as America going to hell in a hand basket.

What is really paradoxical is that this was a time of the Jesus Freak movement which was a large revival and part of the charismatic movement in the church. The youth were coming back to the church in droves. How ironic to think that a lot of these young people were to become the ultra-conservatives of today.

Also as far as an historical note this was also the time the prosperity gospel (a movement that began with the New Thought movement during the nineteenth century, remerged during the 1950’s with faith healers and became full blown during the 1980’s). Marry this concept of the prosperity gospel with the prosperity of a country and tie them in. You make it seem that the reason the country is being blessed is because God favors that country because it performs to a particular standard. If the country is being blessed then surely those who follow the same ideals will also share in the great fortunes that are being made. You now have a very powerful tool to manipulate a large group of individuals to move in the direction you wish politically so that you can obtain more power and money.

Think of it. This is an incredible propaganda tool that will help you shape public opinion to your way. It sounds a whole lot like the same tactics used by a particular serpent in a garden long ago and far away.

This has led to an increased trend where the pulpit ministry has become little more than a bully pulpit in some churches for a particular political party and its platform of the day. What I find disturbing is tying the economic fortunes and outcome of an entire people who practice a specific form of religious ritual and praxis to that of a particular country. Wrapping it up in a neat little package of God, bible, flag and country is insidious if not ingenious for the purposes of manipulation.  Actually it really has invaded U.S. Christian circles for some time.  It really isn’t something that is new but it seems to have gotten completely out of hand. Preaching from a selective political party rather than the gospel has become all too prevalent.

Now we all have seen the typical televangelist whose program is an outreach for the Republican Party. There is no denying their political choice, preferences, and leanings are ultra conservative with emphasis on business concerns. They constantly wrap the bible in patriotic trappings and preach that a particular country is God’s preferred institution. And on the opposite side of the coin there are progressive/liberal/left wing Christian ministries and groups that preach a decidedly left wing political message of the political spectrum as an outreach for the Democratic Party with social justice and the social gospel as its main emphasis.

Each side vilifies the other. Each equates demonic forces as the source of the others standing. Each tries to whip up its followers into a frenzy so that they are a motivated force for an exact cause. (This is because they know that the American public votes against and not for people and ideas).  Each side calls each other out for various political, economic, and sociological stances as being unrealistic and unsustainable. Each claims to be the standard bearer of the absolute truth. The problem is that they are not speaking from the full teachings of Jesus or from the stance of the good news. That should be the only truth they are dealing with but rather seek to manipulate people with select passages of the bible that might be manipulated to prove their point. Pick a choice tidbit that can shore up your politics. It has become a power match to see whose side God is on. That is a major problem since God is on God’s side.

Central to this issue is this: they should be speaking to the problems of this world and not from them. What do I mean by this? It is really simple. The church is called to be the moral and ethical testament to the world. With Jesus as the head of the church he explicitly states that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36 read the whole chapter). That puts the church in a unique advisory position. The church is to bring heaven to earth and not politics to heaven as it is on earth.

In order to bring heaven to earth, the church must not be planted within the political structures. That means no affiliation with one or another particular political party, persuasion, or professing loyalty to anyone other than God. That squarely places the church and/or ministry in the arena as a moral guide, commentator and demonstrator. The church is to be in relationship with the individual by making disciples.

Preaching from one political aspect gives the impression that this is what is condoned, approved, and sanctioned by the church or ministry. That is wrapping the church, bible, and God in one particular ideology and a select nationalistic rhetoric. That then makes it difficult to preach the gospel to all because it wraps it in a cultural understanding rather than the Kingdom understanding. That is a stance that cannot be supported throughout the biblical accounts or historically of what the church is to be.

We could proof text (the bad habit of using selected verses of scripture to prove ones point without regard to the context) the issue and that would do nothing except cloud things further. Some would argue that Israel is the model for that type of thought and they would have a case (although God has used other nations during that period to carry out God’s purposes). God when establishing the nation of Israel did so on the Kingdom of God principles. God was in the seat of power and Israel was to follow God. Israel however wanted to be like its neighbors and have an earthly king. God allowed it but knew fully the consequences of that move, the corruption and abuse that would ensue. But God did not leave Israel to its aspiration of earthly power. God gave Israel the mission to be the light to the world. They were to bring the rest of the world to the reality of one true God and Kingdom principles. They did not follow that mission but became a walled community of believers who chose to hold the world at bay and wait for their own personal liberation. Just read the account of Jonah in the Old Testament.  Eventually they waited to be liberated from the earthly powers that suppressed them. They became just like their neighbors in their hunger and greed for power much like the modern church.

Within the Old Testament is the admonishing of Israel for putting their agendas ahead of the things of God and the kingdom of God. All you have to do is read Haggai Chapter 1 through 2:9. It was the duty of Israel to rebuild the temple. They started but did not finish the work but instead choose to put the rebuilding of their homes first and foremost. Because of this action they suffered the consequences of lack. The priority is the kingdom of God. It is kingdom first and nation second. Yet we see within modern times the call for the nation first. The phrase is repeated over and over throughout the media and campaign speeches of those who broker power and accumulation of wealth. They even go so far as to state that the values of the individual must give way to the need of the nation. Value means little or nothing for them in the light of national interest.

Jesus dissolves the need for a particular government for believers through the commandment to make disciples not only from a local point but also to the ends of the earth inclusive of all peoples. You cannot do that wrapped in the ideology of one nation and/or flag. It is the duty of all believers of the way of Jesus and Kingdom principles to make disciples not followers of the United States form of government or capitalism. That is not what the church is to export. The church is to export the gospel. The church is the people following Jesus and not a denomination. It all about the kingdom of God which is about service to others and not being served by others.

You must be above those earthly limitations of a political agenda and be of kingdom moral and ethical standards whose only limitation is love. Paul in his writings goes so far as to say that Christianity is to be above it by being ultimately flexible in its approach and not limiting itself to any one culture, country or power. When in Rome be a Roman to reach the people – thus following the customs of the people but in doing so offer a snapshot as to how that society would look if it were to be of the Kingdom of God. So it preached (through words, scripture and practical demonstration) how that would look. It preached to the people, culture, and nations not from a particular political view but from God’s point of view (and that looked different from the political). It was demonstrated as a starting point with the finish line to be the full blown realization of God’s will on earth as it is in heaven – nothing missing and nothing broken.

The church will never be relevant until it assumes the position of moving from glory to glory of the kingdom. The church must preach (verbal explanation and practical demonstration) and not from a political point of view to be eternally relevant. When the church assumes a political point of view it ceases to be of the kingdom. Its position then becomes entrenched in the very things that are trying to be overcome and those things are not of the kingdom. It becomes just another club, party or organization that offers exactly the same thing that a dozen or so other entities does. Why bother? Those things disappoint and offer no true solution to the conditions of humanity.

Our vision becomes limited if we are not coming from the kingdom perspective.  It is the old adage that it is difficult to remember that our objective is to drain the swamp if we are up to our posteriors in alligators. If we are in the political swamp participating in the tactics of blaming and vying for influence to advance our agenda, how can we advance the kingdom? We cannot serve two masters. To do so is impossible. We will love one and hate the other. The divided attention does not allow for full committal to either. Something suffers. Even from a political point of view this makes it a conflict of interest.

This does not mean that we are not to become involved with the day to day lives of the people. We are to proclaim the good news, mend the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, release prisoners from the darkness, comfort those who mourn, provide for those who grieve, bestow a crown of beauty instead of ashes, give the oil of joy, a garment of praise instead of the spirit of despair, rebuild the ancient ruins, restore devastation, renew the ruined cites, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. These are the proclamations of Jesus and the lynch pin between the old (Isaiah 61) and new (Luke 4) testaments are found in Isaiah 61. These are kingdom principles and not political platforms. They still involve free will choice to accept or reject. The only difference is that you if you reject kingdom principles, you do so at your own eternal peril. You are not to be in the political trenches assuming a political ideology but a kingdom reality to completely change the course of human events for all time. It is transformative. It does not just change something but makes it into something completely new. It transform one thing to another.

Think of it all this way as in Matthew 19. Jesus had entered into a discourse on divorce (which was contrary to societal norms) and when he ended it something happens in verse 13. Children are brought to Jesus so that he could lay his hands on them and pray. This was not a common practice of that culture. It is not like our western culture where the existing practice and common belief is that children are to be loved and nurtured.  The children of Jesus’ day were treated much differently. Although individual children were loved by their parents, especially the sons, they were not handled with gentle hands. They were severely punished and they lacked cultural training and their hygiene was not the best.

When guests were entertained, the house was cleaned and the children were put out with instructions not to return until after the banquet was over. Much was done to keep undue noise levels down and children away. Children were considered distractions and unwelcomed because of their propensity to ask foolish questions, be embarrassing, and annoying. When a holy man visited the host presented the male heirs for the holy man to lay hands on them and thereby protect them from diseases. Children knew that this was a holy man and they were to keep quiet.

At that time Jesus was viewed by his disciples as a king rather than a prophet (prophet as in being one who was in direct relationship with God and therefore sent by God). They believed that Jesus was sent by God to liberate them. They saw proof of Jesus’ coming from the Father through the signs and wonders that followed Jesus. They saw the signs and miracles but interpreted them through a cultural lens of what a messiah was to be and not through kingdom principles. The political/religious figures interpreted these signs and wonders as affiliation with the demonic sent to overthrow them.

Their concept of a messiah was not the same as the kingdom of God’s concept. They were all waiting for Jesus to restore the once great and lost kingdom of David and God was looking to establish the kingdom of God on earth. The political/religious power structure saw Jesus as a threat to their power and money.

The disciples rebuked the people for bringing their children because they saw Jesus as an earthly king who was to restore the kingdom of Israel. They did not necessarily see Jesus as prophet or one whose kingdom was not of this earth. But those people saw Jesus’ demonstration of the kingdom of God and therefore some saw him as a prophet (which is why Jesus could do the things that Jesus did). They did not see him as a political ruler but one who was to bringing a portion of the Kingdom of God to earth. They still had mixed concepts of what a messiah was to be.

Unfortunately some who followed still refused to see Jesus as anything but a political liberator.  They had a dualistic view of Jesus that could be and was confusing. They thought that Jesus was to bring the kingdom of Israel back and thus placing the rule of God over the earth through Israel as the chosen and exclusive people. It was contrary to the mission of Jesus. He was not to re-establish an earthly kingdom (political force, entity, concept, or rule of law) such as Israel but was to bring the Kingdom of God to earth as it was in heaven.

Jesus told the disciples to bring the children to him because the children understood the Kingdom of heaven. Their simplicity was free of dogma, traditions and hatred. They knew little or nothing of political ideologies or who ruled who. Only people who are as free from religious and political prejudices could completely understand the kingdom of God. These are to be the future of the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:13, Luke 18:15 read the whole chapter). [1]

Again, none of this is new. Somewhere back in the beginning of the millennium, I ran across an article written by Ken Eckerty who has since disappeared from the web. He used have a site called savior-of-all that is now a Spanish Soccer site. He had an article called “God is not a Republican” that was on the site during the time of George W. Bush was president. (I will put a copy of it on the blog for your viewing.) He poses an interesting question, “….what is the heart of God concerning a Christian’s role in politics?” Most would assume that voting is a privilege and a right. Because of this assumption it would then be a Christian’s responsibility to be politically active lest we fail to do the will of God. But Eckerty raises the question does God really expect Christians to bring about change through participation in the political process? How does God want us to overcome and change the world in which we live?

The concept that Jesus puts forth is that change can only come by a change in the heart of humanity which is the theme of Luke 17. Change begins within the individual. True change can only be affected through the influence of one person upon another. Simply it is about building relationships. It is the stopping for the one (which are well documented and used by those like Iris Ministries founders Heidi and Roland Baker). The parables are ripe with the analogy of all else being left to look for the lost one. As Eckerty puts it, “Cleaning up the nation through external means is like taking a scrub brush to the outside of a coffee cup but leaving the inside filthy and to rot.” Jesus had the same issues with the political figures in Matthew 23. They were enveloped in public display of piety, righteousness, and religious superiority yet they were nothing more than containers of rotting bones

We are to obey those in authority and to pray for them. Jesus does not preach political involvement but does command us to preach the gospel to all creatures. Even all of creation waits for this message. This is how to change the course of human event, by changing the hearts of the individual which will then transform the minds of humanity. There is a purpose for the political movements of humanity and that is to keep the evil of humanity in check and limit to some degree its reach into the daily lives of the people. It does not change the hearts and minds of humanity, especially for the long haul. No law, legislation, edict, proclamation or pronouncement by any government will ever change the hearts and minds of humanity. It only temporarily appeases the anxiety of the individual. It does not and will not satisfy. It is only a stop gap for an existing problem that eventually will be worked around by one source or another for its own purposes.

This is the reason why the banking and financial status of any country ebbs and flows. We have seen this time and again as these institutions come up with new ways and means of pushing the extremes of how they become profitable. As soon as they have gone too far the government steps in with a new piece of legislation that prevents them from going down that road to ruin – hopefully but that is not always the case. That stays in place until someone somewhere comes up with a ways and means of working around that road block. All that does is trigger another series of legislative moves to counter the latest work around. It is a continual game of cat and mouse.

Take the state presently of the Health Care issues. One political entity gave it, and the other political entity is set to destroy it. No matter which political entity, party or movement authors what, it was and is never about people, their wellbeing, or health. It was and is about who is supposedly right. It is all about manipulation of power and money for those who would form an elite ruling class and those who would fund them. Just look at who contributes to either party’s candidates or you will see the same list of pharmaceutical, insurance, health care corporations, with an endless list of PAC’s representing Doctors and Lawyers. And if they don’t get want they want now, soon there will be another set of politicians who will be willing to help these power brokers get what they want. This is so that the politician can carve out their own sector of personal wealth management and the expense of others. Just look at the congressional health care opposed to what they have voted (in the past and now) for themselves. You will find that their coverage is far superior to that of the ordinary citizen.

But how are we supposed to handle all of this?

As seen in Romans 6 we are to walk in the newness of life. This is by the very actions of Jesus through the cross, resurrection and through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. This eliminates the need to do things as humanity would have you do and places the proclamation of the good news that the kingdom of God is not only at hand but is to be found within.

Eckerty goes on to discuss the concept of individual rights. Do we in fact have rights as Christians? The answer is no we do not. Our lives are not our own. We have a higher calling. If you go through the letters of Paul you will find references to our existence as slaves. Not just ordinary slaves but those of the lower levels of existence. These can be found in 1 Corinthians 4 (the word huperetes). In Romans 1continues the concept of slavery (the word doulos). This can be tied back to the concept found in Exodus 21.

Now before I continue let me explain that this slavery/servitude expressed with the understanding that this is a voluntary action. You can wrap it up as a slave to love. It is the relationship that we have with God that compels us in love to do what is ever required of us to see that the Kingdom of God is fully realized on earth as it is in heaven. It is not a robotic response but it is by free will and choice.  It becomes our order, purpose, and function to bring it about through the gifts and talents we have been given to do so. That is because each one of us has a particular calling to be fulfilled in bringing about the kingdom – no matter how large or small others might think it is. God sees it as absolutely vital to the total arrival of the kingdom.

We see it as no other choice but to choose the higher road of love.  It is dual purposed in that we find our order, purpose, and function as we help bring about the order, purpose and function of the kingdom of God to this world. They are interconnected and completely related. They are not serving two masters but one. It is a change brought about by being in relationship with God but also in relationship to those around us. It is a one with one interaction. It brings about lasting change because it goes beyond the superficial and into the deep of the heart and mind. It is lasting change because it is transformative.

All of the political action committees, boycotts, and rallies do little or nothing to change the hearts and minds of humanity. From experience and history they do little more than harden the hearts and minds of many. It creates rivalries. It creates lines of existence that produces the haves and the have nots and not the brothers and sisters of the kingdom. It does little to change the long range aspect of the human condition. For over forty years I have watched little change in the political realm except the rhetoric slung back and forth to make it appear that things have actually changed. It does nothing but muddy the water so no one can see what is truly going on beneath the surface. The chasm between people and issues has gotten wider and more contentious. It is the typical political smoke and mirrors game that makes it appear all is well.

It goes from one political extreme to the other. As one piece of legislature is created there appears a work around that all but guts the previous. The political atmosphere only gets more complex and manipulative. Money and power are the guiding forces not justice. To recall a quote from William Gaddis in A Frolic of His Own, “Justice? — You get justice in the next world. In this one you have the law.”

In becoming politically involved we become two people occupying the same space. We adopt the ideology of the broken and corrupted political structures/parties and at the same time try to make them fit into what we have in most cases called Christianity. It simply does not work. You can cloth a murderer in an expensive suit of clothes and yet the murderer does not change who they are and what they did. You sitting in a chair in a garage and you saying vroom, vroom does not make you a car. Placing a white robe, angel wings, and a harp on a political organization does not make it Christian.  We have to stop this dual identity.

What does this dual identity produce? It produces hyphenated people who are torn between to distant shores. We are children of God. We should not be hyphenated people. We are not Christian-Americans in as much as we are not American-Christian, Republican-Christians, Democrat-Christians, etc. We do not divide ourselves because we would then be schizophrenic. You cannot do both. It creates a tremendous imbalance caused by two polarities that will eventually rip apart its subject. We are Christian. We are to bring heaven to earth period. God is the author and therefore we should give God thanks for what and where we exist. We are citizens not of this world but are to be ambassadors from heaven to earth. We hold to a higher authority and will be called back to our place of origin.

Membership in any organization is generally based upon our own interests. It can range from lower taxes, less government, restoration of confidence in government/military/business, our special interests (socially, physically, economically, and intellectually). Can God use these organizations to bring about change? The answer is most definitely yes, but here is the however in all of this. God may place us within an organization to be the source of light to bring about change. We are to be the yeast that leavens the grain which is transformed into the bread of existence. It is God’s intention to be in relationship with individuals in an intimate/personal way. But our goal within these organizations is not to change the structure of the organization but to change the individual. As Eckerty puts it “God wants us to pursue those things that are ‘lovely, pure, and of good report.’ (Phil. 4:8) He wants us to be consumed with living the gospel of Christ, not the external reformation of culture.” The outside will change because of the inside is in full health and wellbeing.

Are there good things that these organizations accomplish? Most certainly but they do so only temporarily. These things will soon fade as the next cause takes center stage for its 15 minutes of fame. Their dependence upon humanly based systems limits them to the parameters of words written upon a page rather than upon the hearts and minds of humanity. It has been proven time and again that the best and longest impact that can be made is by individuals in relationship to other individuals. It is a one to one sphere of influence.

Here is what is at issue with involvement in the political sphere. God has different purposes for the political in opposition to the individual. The individual is called to promote and demonstrate the concepts of love and forgiveness. This is not the purpose or function of government. It therefore becomes impossible at times for the individual Christian to become involved in the dealings of government especially with those that are in opposition to the Christian principles.

Can God use governments for God’s purposes of advancing the kingdom of God? Absolutely! God has used the well intended actions as well as the the evil intentions and actions of nations to exact justice. But that is for God and God’s judgment to bring about. This is how Eckerty puts it “let us be responsible to walk in the humility of Christ.”

There is the obvious problem that occurs here and it is one that occurs time and time again. People have the tendency to confuse the kingdom of God with only spiritual items and thus relegating the things of the earth to human concerns. This is really a completely anti-biblical and anti-God approach. God made us responsible for body, mind, and spirit. We are to be involved with what some would call earthly things – environment, poverty, education, social order, and justice. God’s design was and is that we are to be stewards of the earth and all that includes. This was from the time of the creation of the first of humanity. We were given dominion to bring it all to God’s kingdom, giving it order, purpose and function. We are to help it achieve these things. This is our divinely appointed order, purpose and function. To eliminate all of it is to deny our place and separate us from the will of God which is the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. It is to be one order, one purpose and one function. That includes the diversity of creation and its expression. You cannot have two minds and two hearts each with different order, purpose, and function occupying the same space without a catastrophic result.

Unlike the gnostic principles of the spiritual being superior to the earthly, God sees it all as being of equal value and necessity because it is all necessary to our existence. It is all interconnected. So it is necessary for the Christian to be involved but not through governmental agencies, political structures, or any other man induced answer. We are to be involved from a kingdom perspective.

We are to pray for the political and business leaders. We should submit to the law (as long as it does not capitulate the kingdom of God). As Jesus put it when his earthly parents came looking for him – don’t you see I need to be about the business of my father.

Compromise is a misunderstood word politically. The meaning of compromise is actually covenantal in meaning. It is a two part word that com means with and promise is a pledge or a vow. If we compromise we come under the understanding that this is something that we can and will live with and under. It is coming to terms. God gives us the promise that we will not be forgotten or forsaken. We live under that compromise because we agree to it as Christians as defined by the New Covenant sealed with and by Jesus. Our acceptance of Jesus brings us under that promise. So as Christians we live with the promise or compromise.

However politicians view that word as something that is evil. Compromise to a politicians view is giving in and giving up. The word has become malicious but it is the wrong word. The word we need to be using is for all of that negativity is capitulation.

Capitulation in the thesaurus means to surrender, submission, defeat, retreat. Its’ meaning in the dictionary is to surrender and/or a giving up of resistance and amplifies the point. It is the terms of surrender. We as Christians may surrender our wills to the will of God but it is voluntary and in love. It cannot really be called a capitulation in that we are not beaten but we are victorious. We are victorious because we accept the principles of the kingdom of God existence. We pull everything back into the balance, order, purpose and function as it was created to be and intended. It is a compromise. It becomes capitulation when we surrender our beliefs and loyalty to another who is not of the kingdom of God.

Voting for the lesser of two evils is not a compromise but a capitulation to the evils of the world. We surrender and settle for the lesser of what God intends it to be. Humanity has capitulated their convictions in order to please others, gain power, wealth and fame. God will chose the leaders of this world, and let us choose to pursue the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

Will God ask us to vote in a particular way or fashion? Absolutely God will, but here is the caveat. We can only do that if we hear God’s voice and seek God’s order, purpose and function to bring about change. It will be God compelling us to do so and not a political entity or party loyalty.  We have to be in relationship to know what the Father is up to. I will not go further with that because there is much discussion that can be had on that subject alone. Suffice to say that we are to seek kingdom solutions. The kingdom of God is within. We are holders of the keys to the kingdom. We are the ones charged with bringing it about as Jesus declared by the reading of Isaiah 61.

We have been called to the ministry of reconciliation as outlined in 2 Corinthians 5. Let us share the truth of the love of God with those who are lost and hurting. God loves all people and does not favor one national origin over the other. We are all God’s children and as such are as important as every other individual. We need to be about the work that Jesus demonstrated and not the work of a political entity or nation.

Every nation has been or still is oppressive in some form or way, whether it is because of an ethnic group, race, economic status or any host of reasons. Equality is not something that comes easily to humanity. Most of national interests’ deals with hierarches, power structures, and performances and not with the equality of humanity until it become an overwhelming cry of the people. Then it is a matter of limited legislation that defines a particular group.  This is contrary to God’s concept of the kingdom. All life is sacred for God and all life is equal. We are the ones who place intrinsic value upon it. God’s view of our value is that we exist and because we exist we are of value and loved.

We can see from the earliest times of Christianity that Christians had problems in dealing with the political, cultural, and moral issues of the day. Peter states in 1 Peter 2 that there are times when we must refuse to do something that is against the law of God but is required by the laws of man and in doing so must be prepared to willing accept the consequences of that action. You can also refer to Foxes’ Book of Martyrs, or Jesus Freaks: Martyrs: Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus: The Ultimate Jesus Freaks to see witness the lives of those who went against the political structures of the times. Paul in his letters chides the followers of Jesus to submit to local authorities, however with the understanding that the way of Jesus was to be the ultimate guiding principle. Jesus puts it plainly to render what is Caesar’s to Caesar and to God what is God.

God sends rain upon the just and unjust (Matthew 5). Wealth and prosperity does not prove that any one individual, town, city, state, or country is blessed by God. Nor does it prove the same for any business, partnership, company, or corporation. Add to that line-up any ministry or church. There are just as many good wealthy individuals as there are unjust ones. For every good thing a country, business or ministry has been sighted for there, are as many if not more evil. Granted some could be considered more so than others but from God’s perspective all have fallen short of the ultimate goal of bringing about the kingdom of God.

Is it easier for me to say all of this coming from the borders of the United States? Most assuredly but my point doesn’t change because of where I am. It must remain the same. There will be repercussions for what I am saying no matter where I say. Those on the right will call me anti-American and those on the left will call me a coward for not standing up to the powers that be. I will lose friends, followers and family because of what I am saying. So be it.

As the psalmist put it “Some will trust in horses, and some in chariots, but I will trust in the name of the Lord my God.” (Psalm 20:7) We should thank God for all of the blessings that we have while they are still present in this vapor of an existence. We should pray for all of the political systems and the evils that they are responsible for. If God chooses to remove me from a system of relative freedom I will still praise and thank God. True freedom can only be found within where the kingdom of God resides is.

To continue this path of thought of what it is that we are supposed to do as Christians, we should turn to Paul’s letter entitled 2 Chronicles chapter 7. Eckerty calls the fourteenth verse one of those that is misinterpreted and misapplied. The first states that “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” The original concept dates to the Old Testament that establishes Israel to be the people of God. But it still refers to individuals that are also a collective. Within the New Testament that applies to those of the church (as in a collection of people who believe)  – not a nation. The church has no political border because it applies to all people across borders, boundaries and political persuasions. It is the people of the church who through prayer and repentance that will become healed. The church needs to look at its own complicity in the why and how things have become what they are.

Should Christianity be concerned with the spiritual condition of the nation in which they live? Absolutely but that is changed through individual relationships because it is the heart and then the mind that is changed. It becomes a domino affect going from one individual to another. For Christianity to be relevant and effective it must be demonstrated through the lives and actions of individual believers. It is seen in the actions of those individuals not just words. If it cannot be seen in supposed believers then why would or should anyone believe anything the church says or has to offer? What then is the difference between the church and any other organization vying for anyone’s attention if the evidence cannot be seen, or proved in the lives of those who proclaim to be the church?

Long and lasting change can only be accomplished when the hearts and minds of humanity are changed. It cannot be accomplished through legislation because legislation is the outward symbol of the truth of human hearts which are corrupt and self-serving. At this point the only thing that legislation shows is who actually owns a country. Simply stated those are the special interests who can afford to buy the legislation, manipulate the government, and seize the power through monetary means. Legislation can be gutted or written in such a way as to benefit the few against the many or the many against the few. Legislation can be written so that hidden loopholes can provide convenient exits and profit for those who can work the system to their benefit.

For years if not centuries, the church has abandoned its true mission of disciple making in favor of numbers building and assumption of earthly power. The church is the one who established hospitals, and public education. The church was the source for aiding the poor, the widowed, orphaned and immigrant. This is the real reason the church has become irrelevant because they allowed the government to take over its mission and have faded into the background as social clubs for those who know the secret language. The church has at best become a secondary advisor to the government not the leader of the people. The church has abandoned its role as a change agent for the kingdom of God and has taken on a seat at the banquet table of government for earthly power and glory.

The believer has a distinct way of achieving lasting change. How is this accomplished? Just follow what Jesus proclaimed in Luke 4. It is the reading of Isaiah 61. The Christian is to proclaim the good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom to the captive, release the prisoners from the darkness, proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and vengeance, comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve. We are to bestow: crowns of beauty instead of ashes, oil of joy instead of mourning, and provide a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

We are to stop for the one as Jesus did even among the throng of many followers. We are to provide the answers because we have access to the source of all provision. We are to be prophets in the direct sense of being in constant relationship with God.

Like Eckerty, there will be those who absolutely and vehemently disagree with what I (and he) have written. That is absolutely fine with me. It would seem logical to try to affect/effect change through humanity’s provided governmental agencies and means. Some good has come through these things.  But at the same time I have to remind myself that God’s ways are not subject to the warped logic and thought of humanity. God’s way is indeed higher. It is especially true if we are walking with and in the Spirit. “…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, and the rulers of darkness.” (2 Cor. 103-5, Eph 6:12)

If you are satisfied with pursuing the ways of “Christian political activism” then do so. But I believe that the believer is called to the higher way. We are not called to the good, we are called to the greater. We are to seek the ways of the kingdom in all that we do. At times that means voting for a particular candidate or a piece of legislation but that is as called to do so but that is at the leading of the Spirit. Not because a political party or business entity wants it. It is not and should not be the emphasis. The emphasis of a Christian is to make disciples, demonstrate the kingdom and bring it to earth as it is in heaven through the relationships that we establish with those individuals. We need to be those who bring the good news not a paid political announcement.

So we are to preach to the world not from it. Much like the example of Jesus who changed the course of human events through changing the hearts and minds of a small diverse group of individuals one at a time, we can change the course of human events. All it takes is having the faith of a mustard seed to do so. The political mountain is not something that can be conquered by climbing it and placing a flag on its summit. It needs to be removed. That can only be accomplished with the collaborative act of God w ith God’s people changing the hearts and minds of the individual. Then at that point the political mountain will jump into the sea and be replaced with the kingdom of God.

 

[1] From Aramaic on the Teaching of Jesus, Lamsa, Holman,

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Ken Eckerty – God Is Not A Republican

This is an article originally posted by Ken Eckerty that served as an inspiration for my posting about Christianity and Politics

God is not a Republican
By Ken Eckerty

For most of you who are reading this article, the title “God is not a Republican” will bring a response like, “No duh!” In fact, this is the very response I received when recently posting an excerpt of this article in the religious section of a political bulletin board. “Of course, God is not a Republican,” they said. However, I contend (and will show in this article) that according to the way most Christians in America live (both in word and deed), we very much support the Republican party, and in fact, chide other Christians who either choose not to vote or vote instead for a Democrat.

I’ve been a Christian for almost 25 years and for 21 of those years I was a registered Republican. I don’t know what the statistics are, but I would venture to say that the majority of evangelical Christians are also either registered Republicans or vote primarily with the Conservative Right. This is not to say that there aren’t “Christian Democrats,” and there are many who would say that they are neither Republican nor Democratic, but simply vote for the best candidate. However, what is the heart of God concerning a Christian’s role in politics? Almost every pulpit in America preaches political involvement. While most do not promote a specific candidate (lest they lose their church’s tax exempt status), most pastors will tell us that it is not only a privilege and a right to vote, but it also our Christian responsibility, and therefore (they tell us), we should be actively involved in the politics of our community and nation lest we be guilty of not doing the will of God. I do not deny that it is a right, privilege, and a responsibility of an American citizen to involve himself politically, however, does God really expect the Christian to be involved in effecting change through means of the political process? As believers, are we to consider ourselves American citizens? Church leadership will say that Christians are American citizens too, and therefore, it is their “God-given” right to vote. While I would agree that the American Constitution gives this right to all Americans, I disagree that it is “God-given.”

For those familiar with my writings, you know that I put a great emphasis on the calling of an overcomer. I’m not talking about those who are called “saints,” but rather, those who are chosen as “the elect.” The Bible makes a clear distinction between those who are content in their calling (kletos) and those who are pressing toward the high calling of Jesus Christ (ekkletos). I will not take the time in this article to explain the difference, but you can read more about this in my article titled “Press on to Maturity” which can be found at: http://www.savior-of-all.com/presson.html. Every believer should strive to be an overcomer, however, the sad truth is that most Christians will die in a state of unbelief never having overcome the world, the flesh, or the devil. They have enough faith to believe that Jesus died for their sins and not much more. They are not only trapped in the religious system, but see it as God’s best. They involve themselves in all the activities and programs advocated by the religious system including heavy political involvement which includes voting, supporting candidates, writing local congressman and senators, boycotting companies, and marching in anti-abortion rallies. While these things may be considered noble and may even bring about some change, my contention is that this is not how God wants the overcomer to spend his or her time.

The Kingdom Within

The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20b-21)

Those who spend their time trying to change their nation through external means simply do not understand what Jesus is saying in Luke 17. It is clear throughout the New Testament that real change can only come about through the changing of the heart. True and lasting change always starts from within and then spreads outward, not the other way around. Jesus condemned the Pharisees by calling them “white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones.” (Mt. 23:25-27) Cleaning up the nation through external means (voting, legislation, etc.) is like taking a scrub brush to the outside of a coffee cup but leaving the inside filthy and to rot.

Nowhere in the New Testament is there any exhortation or commandment to change the government through external means. The only exhortations we find are to obey those in authority (Rom. 13:1-2), and to pray for them in these positions (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Paul exhorts us not to entangle ourselves in the affairs of this life. (2 Tim. 2:4) Men concern themselves with laws and rights; however, this idea should be totally foreign to those who are pursuing the high calling of Christ. Nowhere does Jesus encourage political involvement. Nowhere!! Instead He commands us to preach the gospel to all creatures. What kind of gospel is He talking about? A social gospel? A gospel of political legislation? No! He is talking about the power of the Cross and Resurrection of the Christ. This is the power that will change men’s hearts, and then in turn, change the way they live. Legislation, no matter how good and right, is only temporary. What the Republican Party does today will be reversed with the next election. The 104th Congress will be contradicted by the 105th Congress, etc. Certainly God has a purpose for authority and uses government to keep evil men in check and to execute His justice (Rom. 13), however, this will never change men—only the gospel of our Lord can do this.

The best thing the Church can do to effect change in America is to live as if we really believed that Jesus Christ is Lord. Romans 6:4 tells us that we are “raised to walk in newness of life.” Newness of life means walking in the power of the resurrection wrought through the work of the cross in our life. This work slays any desire to do things man’s way, and instead, seeks to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom WITHIN. It does not include protesting or boycotting. It does not include voting or political demonstrations. These are the methods of men, not God, and they are a cheap substitute for the true gospel.

“My Rights”

A common phrase I hear from Christians in relation to politics is it is “my right” to have security, or it is “my right” to have low cost health care, or it is “my right” to have lower taxes, or it is “my right” to have religious freedom, etc. etc. It is not our right at all! As Christians, we have no rights. The apostle Paul uses different words as it relates to the so-called “freedom” of the Christian. In 1 Cor. 4:1, Paul uses the Greek word “huperetes” to describe our calling. This word was used to describe a 2nd or 3rd level galley slave who had no rights. If you’ve ever seen the movie Ben Hur you will understand that a lower level rower was treated as worthless and had absolutely no rights whatsoever. In Eph. 3:7, Paul uses the word “diakonos” which means a lowly table waiter. A waiter is at the beckon command of those to whom he serves. In Rom. 1:1, Paul calls himself a “doulos” of Jesus Christ. This was one who was in the total service of another. This same idea is spoken of in Exodus 21 when a servant had his ear pierced in order to forever bind himself to his master. As Christians, we are totally at the command of our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. The days of us having personal rights are gone forever.

As a result of this “I’ve got rights” mentality, we get offended when profanity and nudity make it onto our television screen. We cry out that it is our right to have “family friendly television” and so we boycott those companies that support the things we find distasteful. There are even Christian organizations whose main purpose is to review Hollywood movies and encourage mass boycotting of the companies that sponsor them. First off, why do we get so offended when wicked men produce wicked fruit? How else do we expect unredeemed men to act? Secondly, do we somehow think that boycotting is going to change the hearts of those men whose only desire is to fill their pockets with the money they make from these ungodly things? If we are that concerned about having that type of material in our home, why not just get rid of the television? Certainly if there are enough people who complain, things might improve for a short while. But how long will these changes last? Will they last only as long as it takes those Christians who complained in the first place to slip back into complacency, or until these men no longer care what Christians think? Don’t get me wrong—I do believe that God wants us to be good stewards with our money, however, I don’t believe we are to spend our time organizing Christians in some massive protest in order to change Hollywood or the companies that support them. This type of methodology simply does not work in bringing about long-term change.

When so-called “religious rights” are taken away from us, we are shocked to think that this could happen in America. Fueled by such radio programs as “Focus on the Family,” we write our Congressman and Senators and cry that our rights have been violated. Dear Christian, we have no rights! Oh, you may say that we have rights as American citizens, but beloved, we must make a choice. Jesus said that “no man can serve both God and money,” and while I am not talking about money here (though, perhaps I am, since American materialism has stolen the hearts of many Christians), we cannot serve both God and America. Either we are strangers in this world or we are not. Either our citizenship is in heaven or it is here in America. (Heb. 11:13, 16; 1 Pet. 2:11) We are not Americans first, then Christians second. We are not even Christians first, and Americans second. We are Christians, period! The “red, white, and blue” is not our home. America is not our provider and we should not expect the government to grant us rights—that privilege belongs to God alone. If we are blessed, let us thank God. If we are in a period of tribulation, let us seek God and submit to the chastening work He has brought our way. When disaster struck Job, he understood who was the Source of all things. He responded by saying, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) If God blesses us through America, then let us praise Him. However, if He chooses to discipline us through America (by taking away personal freedoms), let us not cry “foul” but instead, look to God for the explanation as to why these freedoms and privileges have been taken away.

God is not a Republican

In the fall of 2000, I was a campaign worker for the George W. Bush campaign. At that particular time in my life, my heart was far from the Lord and I needed something to fill the void. I can remember making phone calls and telling people that Governor Bush was the answer to America’s problems. I told them that Bush would restore integrity back to the White House and would work hard to lower our taxes and restore confidence back to our military. Four years later, I realized that my so-called “noble” desire for lower taxes, less government, and a more powerful military was nothing more than my own selfish desire to pad my own pocket, keep the government out of my business, and help me feel safe each and every day. In other words, my goal was to satisfy my own flesh, and I trusted more in the provision of the government than my own God. I, like many other Christians, had fallen for the lie that Christianity and Republicanism (or Conservatism if you like) were compatible—and even ideologically equal. However, nothing could be further from the truth. We have been deceived into thinking that God is going to somehow use the Republican party to bring in His Kingdom. Is it really God’s policy for the Christian to support the lowering of taxes so “Americans can keep their own money?” Does God really want Christians to pursue the idea that we should have lesser government in order to “give more power to the people?” Is it God’s purpose for the Church to be in support of a stronger military and promote the spending of millions of dollars on weapons programs when there are people all over the world who are homeless and starving? Are these the things we should be concerning ourselves with? Are these Christian principles? Well, they certainly are the principles of the Republican Party, but I see nowhere in scripture where God wants us to pursue these things. God wants us to pursue those things that are “lovely, pure, and of good report.” (Phil. 4:8) He wants us to be consumed with living the gospel of Christ, not the external reformation of a culture.

You might argue that by supporting George Bush, we are supporting a pro-life and anti-gay rights agenda, and by doing so, we are making our children’s lives better. I cannot argue that there are some good things that President Bush has done. My argument has never been that there are not good men in politics who are trying to do some very good things. My point is, however, that for the most part, these men are unbelievers who are involving themselves in an earthly system seeking to change things in order to make men’s lives better. (It must be noted, of course, that more often than not, politicians care nothing for others and simply want to pursue their own desire for power and riches.) Additionally, who is it that we trust more to bless us, Bush or Christ? Is Bush the answer to the world’s problems? Is the Republican or Democratic Party the “savior of the world?”

Another point to consider is whether George W. Bush deserves the support of a Christian despite the fact that he has, through the use of the strong arm of the military, killed thousands of innocent men, women, and children in Iraq. In other words, can we honestly support someone who has done good things, but also done evil things as well? (I am not speaking of Bush’s motives, but his the result of his decisions). Those of you who support the war in Iraq (or the military action in Afghanistan) will no doubt remind me that Bush was only defending America from an enemy, and that Saddam Hussein was an evil man who needed to be removed. I, like most Christians, believe it is probable that God is using America to judge the nation of Iraq for the sins of the evil Hussein regime. This is why I am not out protesting the war or speaking out against George Bush. He is the man that God has chosen for this time in history. However, this still does not negate the fact that thousands of innocent people have died at the hands of George Bush, and because of this, I cannot support a man who has been so destructive (regardless of the fact that this indeed may have been God’s judgment against Iraq).

Let me ask you a question. Do you think George Bush’s reaction to the 9/11 incident was the way a Christian should respond to an enemy? When another person commits a sin against us, should we be quick to point at and judge them or should we instead look to ourselves and see where we might be falling short? Doesn’t the Bible tell us to “consider ourselves lest we fall?” Doesn’t it also say that “before we look at the speck in our brother’s eye, we should first look at the log in our own?” So instead of calling for a time of reflection and repentance for America’s own sins, Bush instead lashed out against his enemies and vowed to take vengeance against those who viciously attacked us. Instead of looking inwardly at why this may have been allowed to happen, Bush chose, instead, to praise America’s virtues and vow retaliation against the enemy.

As Christians, should we not seek to turn the other cheek, forgive our enemy, and repent of our own sins? Why should a nation be exempt from this? You may interject here and point out that God has a different purpose for the nations than He does for individuals, and that what is unacceptable behavior for individual Christians is perfectly within the plan of God for the nations of the world. I won’t deny that there is some truth to this, however, it is for this very reason that I believe it is impossible for a Christian who is called to love and forgive his enemies to involve himself in the affairs of a government that does the exact opposite of a Christian’s calling. It doesn’t matter whether God is using the evil actions of a nation to execute His justice—believers are to promote love and forgiveness—and they should leave the judgment to God. If He uses America to do this, then so be it. However, let God be responsible for the judgment; let us be responsible to walk in the humility of Christ. George Bush has done things that an individual Christian should never condone in their own life, and therefore, our attitude and response should NOT be to support George Bush (or any other candidate), but to submit to and pray for our leaders (as commanded in God’s Word). Our concern should be with the affairs of the kingdom of God rather than the affairs of men. Let the nations take care of carnal affairs, and Christians take care of spiritual ones.

I’ve often heard it said that if we don’t vote for a “good” man, even though he may have some “bad” policies, we are only allowing a more evil man to come into power. In fact, I was told that very thing this past election. Supposedly, my non-vote was going to help elect Senator John Kerry (as if God somehow had no say-so over who He had already chosen as America’s next president). Why should I compromise my convictions in order to vote for someone who has done things that Christians should be against? Why should I vote for someone who has a priority to be successful in politics or to make a name for himself? Do you really think that it is good to vote for a man who is the “lesser of two evils?” Does God want us to compromise our principles in order to elect a man who is good or “mostly” moral? Didn’t Jesus say, “there was only one good, and that was God?” Do you really think it is possible that there could ever be a man in a position of governmental authority who would be allowed to uncompromisingly preach and live the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ? I’m sure there are many Christians who would love to see this, unfortunately, the political climate just doesn’t allow for such a thing. It is true that President Bush has spoken of His faith in Christ; however, it has usually been done either privately or at a predominantly Christian event (such as Christian Coalition rallies or the National Day of Prayer Breakfast). In a speech of national importance, though, where all Americans have interest, have you ever heard George Bush speak of either repentance or putting our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? No—and you will not hear him do so because he does not want to offend Muslims and peoples of other religious faiths. With a country as large and diverse as America, you can’t preach Jesus Christ without offending many, many people. To my knowledge, President Bush has never asked the nation to pray and weep for the sin of abortion and pornography in this nation. Perhaps he has done so privately, but he has never done so publicly. Do you really think someone who has political aspirations would ever speak in such a way? Of course not—if he did, he would never get elected! Additionally, President Bush has promoted the re-election campaign of men who support abortion rights? Do you think it’s OK to be against abortion yet support men who believe it’s acceptable to kill an unborn baby? Why does President Bush do this? Very simple—he is promoting his political party. Make no bones about it, President Bush is a Republican. He may be a moral man, and he may indeed be a Christian, but he is also a politician who wants to be re-elected and see his party maintain control of Congress. Again, you may say that it is not a president’s job to preach the gospel or cry out against the nation’s sin, and you are right. This is but another reason why Christians should not be involved in the support of political candidates. Let the president take care of presidential affairs, and let the Christian take care of Christian affairs.

My point is this: If a man is going to compromise his convictions (no matter how small) in order to please men or to aspire to a position of power, is he worthy to be supported? Please do not misunderstand me. I am not against George W. Bush. I am sure he is a fine, upstanding, and sincere man. However, let me be equally clear that I am neither for him. I am for Christ! God wants us to follow Him, not men. All of us fall short, and we should only look to Christ for our hope and salvation. God wants us to trust Him, not the American government. Let God be responsible for choosing who should the lead the nations of the world, and let us choose rather to pursue the good things of the kingdom within. There will always be “good” men who will pursue the things of the kingdom without. There will always be those men (Christians and non-Christians alike) who will seek to make change through the political process. Let the world (including political Christianity) take care of the affairs of the world, and let the overcomer take care of the affairs of God. George Bush will be held accountable for the things that he has done as president, as will all those who are in positions of authority. Ours is not to support or be against “God’s anointed,” but to obey those God has raised up in these high positions, and to do the will of the Father by ministering to the orphans and the widows.

Finally, I must add that God is not a Democrat either. He is neither a Libertarian, a Constitutionalist, nor a member of the Green Party. No, God is not pleased with the fact that millions of innocent children have been murdered by those who seek convenience in their life. But instead of taking up arms side by side with unbelievers who are against abortion—trying to change the laws of the land—let us instead concern ourselves with the ministry of reconciliation that we have been called unto. (2 Cor. 5: 18-20) Instead of being political, let us spend our time sharing the truth of God’s love with those who are lost and hurting—for this is our true calling in Christ.

God is not an American

Not only is God not a member of a political party, He is also not an American. “God is no respecter of persons,” and yet while we are bombing and killing Iraqi citizens, Christians have no problem promoting the slogan “God bless America” while hanging American flags from their houses and cars, and at the same time telling others that we must “pray for our troops.” What about God blessing Iraq? Has God forgotten them? What about praying for the poor in this world? What about weeping for the sins of America? Is God concerned that Iraqi men (women and children) are dying or is it only “our troops” that concern Him?

God loves Americans, but He also loves Iraqis, Palestinians, Russians, and Chinese. I am aware that most Christians understand this, however, I’m not sure we are living this principle. We are too comfortable here in America. Yes, we should pray that God blesses America, but instead of praying that He would bless her by winning a war, perhaps we should pray that He grants her eyes to see her own sin and gives her the gift of repentance. (Acts 3:26) We should also pray that He brings life through the gospel of Christ to those poor Iraqi’s (and the other nations of the world) who are suffering hardship created by the governments of the world (including the United States).

We must stop this promotion of America. It is not America, but Jesus Christ we should be promoting. He is the source of our life and the focus of our vision! (Heb. 12:2a)

Our Founding Fathers

Most Christians believe that America was founded on biblical principles and therefore feel that we must do all we can to protect our godly heritage. I am not going to question the integrity or the faith of any of America’s founders. According to what I have read, the founding fathers were very religious and very outspoken concerning their faith. Some were Christians, others were Deists, and others simply believed in a “higher power.” However, I believe that the primary reason for rebelling against England was unscriptural. According to our history books, the Boston tea party was the beginning of the rebellion of the colonies against the unfair tax practices of England. The colonists were upset that they were being taxed without having representation. While this may certainly seem like a noble cause, it is not a biblical one. Paul tells us,

Let every soul be subject unto the higher power. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves judgment. (Rom. 13:1-2)

Certainly England was oppressive to the colonists, and I’m sure it was a difficult time for them, but so was Rome during the time of Paul, yet Paul told the Christian to submit. Even Peter tells “servants to be subject to their masters, not only to the good and gentle, but also to those who are wicked.” (1 Pet. 2:18) Yes, there may come a time when we must refuse to obey (as individuals) if we are commanded to do something against the law of God (but we must also be prepared to suffer the consequence of our action). However, an oppressive (even evil) government using the taxpayer’s money for it’s own lusts is NOT a legitimate reason for rebellion. I cannot find one reason as listed in the Declaration of Independence that gave the colonists a scriptural reason for the rebellion, (in fact, the Bible goes so far to say that “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft”–1 Sam. 15:23), and so if this be the case, then why are we so supportive of what the colonists did? Just because someone speaks of God and the Bible doesn’t necessarily mean they are living an obedient Christian life—for to do so means we must submit to those authorities that God has placed over us—be they good or evil. Jesus knew full well that Rome was an evil government who used the people’s money for their own selfish ambitions; however, He also knew that it was a government raised up by God to use for His own purposes. Jesus did not advocate the refusal to pay taxes or to rebel against the government. Instead He told us, “We are to render unto Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and to God, the things that belong to Him.” There are many evil things that our tax money funds, but no where in scripture can we find any exhortation that we should refuse to pay our taxes or rebel against an ungodly government.

Those of you who are skeptical might say, “If America was not founded on biblical principles, then why should we obey anything she says—for it is an illegitimate government.” This argument ignores the fact that God raises up both godly and ungodly nations for His own purposes, and it doesn’t matter if a nation is good or evil—God tells us to submit to both. He raised up Pharaoh to do His bidding, and certainly raised up Babylon and Assyria to bring both Judah and Israel into judgment. America, like it or not, has been established by God, and it is only by the grace of God that He has blessed America as He has, as well as showing her mercy by delaying the judgment she deserves. Some might respond by saying that America’s prosperity and religiosity proves that God’s hand has been on this country. However, Jesus said that God sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Mt. 5:45). While I’m not saying that America is unjust, I am saying that a nation’s wealth and prosperity does not necessarily prove the it is being blessed by God. Additionally, being religious doesn’t necessarily mean favor with God either. The Pharisees were extremely religious yet were condemned by our Lord. The American colonists’ actions may have been noble according to human standards, but I do not believe they were scriptural, and so to say that “what they did was sanctioned by God” is forcing God’s Word to conform to history in order to justify the false idea that the Bible promotes “Christian patriotism.”

Some of you might think that I am anti-American. This isn’t the case at all. I am glad that I live in a country that has the freedoms that we have. I pay my taxes and am glad that there are policemen to help keep my family and I safe. I appreciate the fact that I can go where I please, and speak my mind on any issue I choose. It was here in America that I was introduced to the gospel message, which I will be forever grateful. However, I thank God (not America) for blessing me with the truth. I don’t thank America for my blessings, nor do I look to her for my security or freedom. America is here because God wants her to be here. He has used her for both good and evil and when her time is through, she will be brought to nothing just as all flesh will be.

Some trust in horses, and some in chariots, but I will trust in the name of the Lord my God. (Ps. 20:7)

In no way am I saying that the colonists were insincere or immoral men, and I fully understand that in the sovereignty of God, He allowed those men to sin thus bringing forth the United States of America. What I’m saying is that we should not look to those men as heroes who should praised, honored, and followed. They may be courageous men who defied the odds by forming a new nation, but they were not (and are not) heroes in the Biblical sense. They were wrong in their rebellion and it is high time we get our eyes off of them and back onto the Author of all things.

No, we should not seek to protect our “godly heritage,” but we should thank God for all the blessings we have while they are still ours, and pray that America repent for the evil that she is doing. If God should continue to allow me to live in a free society, then I will praise Him. If He should choose to take all my freedoms away, I will still praise Him no matter what harm may befall my family or me. No one can take away my freedom in Christ—which can only be found within!

2 Chronicles 7:14

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Undoubtedly, this is the most oft quoted passage by Christians when speaking of America’s sin. First of all, “my people” applies to God’s “called.” Under the Old Covenant, it was Israel. Under the New, it is the Church. This passage is NOT referring to any of the heathen nations of the world. This is one of the many verses that the Church has misapplied at the expense of repentance in their own lives. Instead of looking at its own shortcomings, the Church instead is pointing its finger at others. Another well-known verse that is also taken out of context is found in Rev. 3:20 where Jesus tells the Church at Laodicea, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock….” Millions of evangelicals apply this verse to “the poor sinner who doesn’t know the gospel, and if they would only heed the gentle, persistent knocking of our Lord, He would come into them and sup with them.” Instead of Jesus being outside of the sinner’s heart, the context shows us that Jesus is outside of His own Church knocking. It is the Church who needs to heed the knock of the Lord and let Him in, not the world! It is the Church, first and foremost, who needs to “humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from their wicked ways.” It is the Church that has left her first love and followed after other pursuits—and in my own life, it was Jesus Christ who was not preeminent causing me to pursue politics to help fill the void that only He could fill.

Secondly, even though the passage was clearly speaking of Israel (and now the Church), I do believe its general principles can be applied to other nations as well. It should be clear to any discerning Christian that America is full of evil and corruption. However, the key to this verse is that it is through prayer and repentance that a people will be spiritually healed—not by being pounded on the head by Christian activists who are bent on changing America through legislation. Yes, of course Christians should be concerned about the spiritual welfare of the nation in which they live. However, it is through prayer and a recognition that the battle being waged is not in the realm of the visible, but in the invisible realm of the spirit. Instead of church leadership supporting the American government in the pursuit of Muslim extremists (and believe me, they certainly do), and self-righteously judging the world (which they also do quite well), they need to first examine their own hearts to see if they have fallen short, and then pray for revival in their own life, and in the lives of “their flock.” Before the gospel can be powerful for others, it must first be operating in the lives of those who proclaim it, and thus we come to the real problem in America—it is the Church itself. If the Church were not so arrogant and presumptuous concerning its own righteousness, perhaps the world might be moved to repent of its own wickedness. The Church, while preaching Christ, rejects His Lordship in their own lives, and so if the people of God are not broken, how can we expect the world to follow suit?

“Judgment begins in the house of God.” This is where it must start. We must tend to the affairs of our own house before we start pointing out the flaws in others. Let us not live as “Christian patriots” who want to change the morality of this country, but rather as broken servants of Jesus Christ who desire to live the gospel of love in order that men may be moved to repentance by our example.

In Conclusion

There is a way that seems right to a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death. (Prov. 16:35)

There will be many who will vehemently disagree with what I have written. It may seem good and right to try to change the culture through the political process, however, as I tried to point out, there is no such exhortation or command in the New Testament that even hints that we should try to change our society through external means. Jesus and all of the apostles tell us to submit even to those who are evil. Common sense tells us that it is a good thing to try to change America through the means that she herself has established (democracy). However, God’s ways go against the common sense of men, and those who truly are walking in the Spirit understand that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, and the rulers of darkness.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:12)

If you are satisfied with involving yourself in the temporal affairs of men making short-lived change in government, then continue to pursue “Christian politics.” This is “the good.” However, if you are concerned with the kingdom within then concern yourself with promoting the Lordship of Christ by exalting His cross and resurrection—this is the calling that God has entrusted to us as His stewards and ambassadors. This is “the greater.”

It has been said that “the good” often prevents us from doing “the greater.” This is the difference between the “called” and the “elect.” The “called” do good things and make some change, but it is the “elect” who will be used by God mightily to make lasting and eternal changes. God is not looking for “Christian patriots,” or “Christian activists,” but men and women who’ve had their “ear pierced” for their Master and are committed to doing the things that please Him.

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Creativity a Birthright.

Creativity is a birthright. Unfortunately we have only equated it with artistic ability and talent. This is really not the case and is only a small fraction of what true creativity is. It is much larger and more important than you have yet to imagine. It is a birthright that is not only a part of our physical DNA but also part of our mental and spiritual DNA – Destiny to Nurture and Apply. It is the complete integration of body, mind and spirit which is the definition of what it is to be fully human to begin to enable the possibilities of all existence to its intended order, purpose and function.

Why aren’t we told this? It is because it is easier to control and manipulate individuals who believe that they are not creative. Without creativity you do not look for the answers and solutions to life’s problems. You blindly accept that this is how it always was and how it is always meant to be. You readily accept those seven deadly words – we have never done it that way before – that make us conform to a society and/or culture. It is easier for the powers of society that control education and religion to make workers for their benefit and not for the benefit of all of creation. That is why we have creativity trained out of us.

Society, culture, and religion limit creativity to just a select few and they have strict borders as to what they can or cannot do. The rest of us have been told that they never were creative to begin with. Families perpetuate the lie because they do not know any better or simply choose willful ignorance. We are then educated/trained/indoctrinated by a system that measures us as if we were parts on an assembly line. If we don’t make the grade we are tossed to the reject pile or simply told that we will never amount to much so you just better accept your lot in life. All this is so that we do not truly think for ourselves. We are manipulated so that all we hear is the beat of a forced march never really knowing who we are and how we can express our true identity.

We are told that we are to fit a particular pattern of existence so that we can obtain a level of success not that we can resolve or solve the problems of humanity and creation. This is an absolute lie. Unlocking creativity is accomplished by rejecting all of the lies that you are not creative. Creativity can be re-awakened simply by knowing that you are creative. It changes the way you see so that you can see the way things change.

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Christianity – A Noun That Was Meant to Be a Verb

Now there is a strange opening title. How can a noun be a verb, especially one that has been understood for a very long time as a noun? That is not as strange as you may think when you consider what it was that Jesus was trying to establish in light of scriptural documentation.  The problem is that most people who attempt Christianity are misinformed and cease the process in settling for an existence knowing that they have accepted a fire insurance policy for the next life. All they have to do is hold on tight and wait for the reward in the next life. That leads us to a life of waiting which goes against the mission statement of Jesus found in John 10:10 as Jesus having come so that we may have life more abundantly. Christianity is much more than fire insurance in as much as it is more than just a descriptive noun. For arguments sake let us begin with definitions so that we can see how the noun Christianity is a verb.

A noun by traditional definition is a person, place or thing but that is just the category of a common noun.  Christianity also falls into the category of a proper noun which is a noun that names a particular person, place, thing, or idea. Christianity fits all of that description and more. I know at this point you are probably thinking that this is a useless exercise because all I have done is prove that Christianity is a noun. But hold on for just a little longer and follow the thread of thought.

You see as a noun Christianity refers to a particular person who is Jesus. Jesus occupies a place in our hearts that represents a specific thing which is a lifestyle of service. It is an idea on how to bring about the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. From that explanation you can begin to see that Christianity is more than a static once and done thing. It involves some sort of participation and emulation. Christianity also can be categorized as a collective noun in that it names a group of people that are regarded as a unit which we refer to as the body of Christ. To further prove that Christianity is a noun you can also categorize it as a concrete noun which name something perceptible to the sense in that it is something that can be seen ( Malachi :5, 3:10, Matthew 5:8, 13:16), heard (Numbers 12:6, Matthew 11:5, 13:16, Luke 8:21), smelled , touched (Matthew 8:3, 8:15, 9:29), or tasted.  Taste – Psalm 34, 119, Matthew 5: Luke 14. Christianity is to be seen, heard, smelled, touched and tasted. These are all active qualities of participation in a life that is supposed to be more than an hour on Sundays. These are the everyday experiences of a life led to its fullest and in abundance.

Wait there is even more. Christianity can be classified as an abstract noun in that it is something that cannot be readily perceived through the sense in that it is an idea, a quality, an emotion and a state in that you can think about Christianity without ever experiencing it through any of the senses. Christianity is an idea that is to be thought about and contemplated on. It is an experience which is an encounter with God, who God is, and how we fit into all of that. It is a relationship that is based upon love

Christianity is made up of the word Christ which is the title of Jesus  meaning  messiah who is the king sent to save us. Ian which is the next segment of the word Christianity is the long form of an which denotes membership or belonging to a place or organization and when attached to a name it means that you are a contemporary of (somebody or something of the same time) Jesus or existing now as does Jesus.

So as a Christian you belong to the Messiah in being a member of that organization and you are also viewed as a contemporary of Jesus in that you are a part of the family of God grafted directly into the heritage. Ity  has the meaning of being a state or condition. So put it all together and Christianity is the state or condition of belonging to Jesus as a contemporary of the living Christ (Jesus).

Now this is the first part of the discussion. We have proved that Christianity is in fact a noun in the classical sense. The case for Christianity as a verb is as interesting when you consider the overall aspects of what it is to be a Christian.

Jesus at the outset of his ministry took upon himself the directives of Isaiah 61. John the Baptist saw the Spirit of the Lord descend upon Jesus declaring this was the son of God in whom God was well pleased. This was the start of the Isaiah 61 declaration that Jesus took upon himself as he read it in the synagogue.  The Spirit of God was upon him because he was anointed to bring the good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, and proclaim liberty to the captives. He was to free those who are bound, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of God. He was to comfort all who mourn by giving them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness and the garment of praise. He was to begin to build up the ruins from the former devastations: repair the ruined cities and the devastations of many generations. It is to be our action plan. This is not sitting in a pew for an hour a week but a going out into the community to deal with the day to day obstacles imprisoning the totality of creation and liberating it back to its original order, purpose and function in the original blessing pronounced by God in Genesis 1 through Genesis 2:3.

Christianity is a noun however the foundational principles are a call to action. It is a call to emulate the life of Jesus through our unique gifting, purpose, and destiny. This is the process that Jesus embodied and imparted to the disciples. They became apostles (meaning ones sent) to do what had been taught, and demonstrated to them. They were given a lifestyle to live and express. So from that aspect Christianity is a verb.

Classically a verb is a word that expresses action, condition or a state of being. From our definition of Christianity being a state or condition of belonging to Jesus as a contemporary of the living Christ (Jesus), we can already begin to see that Christianity is a state and/or a condition. This is where Christianity takes on the abilities to be an action. Jesus’ proclamation and commandment to all disciples is that they are to go and make more disciples. We are to emulate the life of Jesus in its fullness.

We can go further into Christianity being a verb. We can demonstrate that Christianity is an action verb whose definition states that it expresses an action which is either physical or mental. This is what preaching the gospel is. It is not only speaking about it which is a mental exercise but it also must be demonstrated. You can have all the knowledge and information at your fingertips but without experiencing it in the physical it has very little impact. So as a verb Christianity goes beyond an action verb’s definition of either/or to one that is both and.

Further proof that Christianity should be considered a verb comes under the definition of a transitive verb. A transitive verb transfers action from the subject to a direct object. Here we see the life of Jesus in definition. Jesus’ ministry was to make disciples who would make disciples. Jesus’ life is the subject. As one who took on humanity, Jesus proved that a life dedicated to the original purpose, order and function of humanity was attainable. Not just attainable but one that could do more and greater things when empowered through Holy Spirit. Jesus transferred this ability of an active lifestyle of the demonstrated love of God to the direct objects of his efforts – the disciples – so that they could then transfer the ability, knowledge and power to others, thus spreading the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

But a problem does occur when Christianity becomes this type of verb. It is an intransitive verb. An intransitive verb does not transfer action so it does not have an object. This happens in many churches that are occupied by those who come for their weekly dose of feel good and go home offering nothing more than I have my fire insurance (or do they). They slowly become less and less until they vanish from the landscape having no object to transfer and action to. Their buildings become a testimony to not only what was but an indictment of what could have been.

However Christianity is at its best when it is a linking verb. A linking verb connects the subject with a word or words that identify or describe the subject. When you become a disciple, you demonstrate what a linking verb is. You and discipleship become linked. It becomes a part of you and you become a part of it. Being a disciple you are called to make other disciples thus continuing the linking process. You as a disciple make disciples. They become disciples. They are linked to the process of being disciples which requires the making of disciples.

You can even go so far as to say that Christianity is part of speech which is recognized as a tense – you know; past, present, and future. Technically Christianity is part of what is called the future perfect tense. The definition of the future perfect tense is an action that started in the past, which is going on now and will be completed sometime in the future.

As you can see, Christianity is both a noun and a verb. It is a noun that requires action. It is alive and requires demonstration. It requires miracles, signs and wonders. Christianity requires unconditional love. The fruit of which will produce, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,  and self-control all which are the linking results of you being a Christian in the fullest of senses.

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Political Science

There was a song by Randy Newman called Political Science that appears on his recording from 1972. It seems to be prophetic and sums up the present political atmosphere. Here are the lyrics.

No one likes us-I don’t know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let’s drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money-but are they grateful?
No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful
They don’t respect us-so let’s surprise them
We’ll drop the big one and pulverize them

Asia’s crowded and Europe’s too old
Africa is far too hot
And Canada’s too cold
And South America stole our name
Let’s drop the big one
There’ll be no one left to blame us

We’ll save Australia
Don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo
We’ll build an All American amusement park there
They got surfin’, too

Boom goes London and boom Paree
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town
Oh, how peaceful it will be
We’ll set everybody free
You’ll wear a Japanese kimono
And there’ll be Italian shoes for me

They all hate us anyhow
So let’s drop the big one now
Let’s drop the big one now

Our political systems have become uncontrollably contentious. Rather trying to find commonality to work together to solve problems and for the prosperity of all, the need to be the absolutely right has taken the precedent.  This need to be right at all costs has cost us all.  Here is the issue – no individual, no cause, and no opinion is absolutely right unto itself. It cannot be by our very nature. Diversity is the necessity of nature and its continued health. Without it inbreeding and stagnation will kill off that species.

Each and every individual sees things from uniquely their position and experience.  It is only one piece of the very large diverse puzzle of human existence. It is when we gather and put all the pieces together that we get close to a picture that is usable. It is then that we can see a usable pattern that will serve all without exclusion. We need each other.

Compromise is not a dirty word. Its true meaning is with the promise that we can live with the terms and conditions needed for all involved – not just special interests or a singular concept. If we cannot reach a compromise we need to agree to disagree until such time as we can find a solution. That is the very least compromise we owe humanity.

Until such a time that we finally understand this, we will be stuck with systems of government and law that are self-serving, corrupt, greed-filled, and destructive.  We need everyone. No one is unimportant. Diversity is our greatest and best hope.
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Supernatural or Natural?

We are often taught that there is a division of realities, especially when we speak of the context of God versus our reality. We hear the terms super-natural and the natural referring to two different worlds that sometimes collide. That God in God’s super-natural world invades our natural world when and if it pleases God to do so. This version of reality puts God in the state of being removed from our reality and un-involved. It puts us as being left alone and separate from God, set adrift on a tiny speck of dust in a vast universe to fend for ourselves. It is no wonder people see any relevance in or about the concept of God as the Christian church. They are already involved in a society that they feel alienated from. Why then sign on to something that has as its leader someone who is far removed from the daily life of its followers?

The analogy that can easily be made about God at this point looks like a spoiled child with a magnifying glass while the ants below scurry about their business. The child for its own warped sense of fun focuses the magnifying glass to burn the next ant victim who is powerless to do anything to influence the behavior of the child. The only interaction that a child has with an ant is either curiosity of what the ant is up to, to study it, or to torture it. Every once in a while the child may take pity on the colony and aid it but outside of that there is nothing except alienation. This is the Greek and Roman god concept. It is a god based upon humanity – a god made in the image and likeness of us. Not only are these gods abusive but they do not care for or about humanity. Humanity is there for their amusement – a play toy. It is an us versus them mentality.

This division of the natural and supernatural is the root cause of this attitude. The Greeks thought the natural world was inferior to the world of the gods. They divided reality into two parts to reflect that thought – the inferior natural world and the supernatural world. The word super already gives a sense of superiority that we cannot obtain. Super is exceptionally large and powerful and greater than what is normal. So supernatural is beyond the natural and cannot by definition be obtained by those who are part of the natural. When you are speaking of God you are in fact speaking about one who is above the abilities of that which was created. However that is where super should stop in connection or comparison with other beings and/or things. God is part of one reality, one universe, and one existence. You cannot find two realities biblically. This is all part of one reality and not a division of realities. There is only one reality that God has created and that is the natural reality. It is what is supposed to be normally. God and creation together are natural.

What I propose is there is in fact an un-natural separation that we have perpetuated. We have intellectually and artificially separated ourselves from the entirety of creation and God. We see ourselves in opposition to the world around us, the cosmos as a whole, and God. We have placed God in an artificial environment where we believe God is above it all and chooses not to interact with anything outside of God.

We have separated ourselves from the cosmic order, purpose and function of things and existence which has made our understanding of the natural order, purpose and function of things un-natural and totally artificial. This artificial reality has caused pain, suffering, disease, war, lack and pestilence. It is only when we replace ourselves into the natural order, purpose and function that things begin to work as they were intended to. We do not enter into the super-natural but align and enter into the natural which is relational to all things inclusive of God.

We are the cause of things not being as they should through misguided observation of the order, purpose and function of all things in reality. We create through observation, thought and speech how reality is seen. This is even backed upon in the strange new world of quantum physics where everything exists as waves until we try to observe them. It is at that point that we observe them as particles and when we stop – they go back to being what they truly are, waves.

We now know that light and sound are waves and occupy the same areas of existence (what scientists would call spectrum) until we sense them and separate them out. This hints at a reality that we create by our observation and the unity of all things. If we propose a negative reality then a negative reality is what we get. If we then propose a positive reality then that is what we get. This may be overly simplistic as an example but it gets to the basis of how we see things and how we perceive them. It also points to the reality that it takes all of us through interaction to create a positive reality. It is not up to one but up to us all. We are interdependent. There are other factors that play into the scenario but it is our attitude towards reality that is critically important. Circumstances can be overcome.

A universe without God or in which God is far removed is harsh, bitter, animalistic, chaotic and raw. In this un-natural universe the cause of all things then is sheer happenstance, luck, and accident without any clear definable purpose, order or function. Chaos is the order and randomness is the law. This view even flies in the face of science in that science sees a set of intertwining laws that give the entirety of the universe an order, purpose and function. So conceptually science and religion start with the same premise. That premise is that the cosmic structure of all things starts with a particular order, purpose and function so that it fully functions. Do we completely understand what that order, purpose and function is? It is a resounding no in all cases. Religion does not get it right in as much as science doesn’t get it all right but each deals with the absolute order, purpose and function of the entire structure of existence. This is why the two have difficulty dealing with each other. Not that they do see the same things but that they see the same things from a different vantage point and see themselves as separate and at odds. What we have to remember is that the things of God are a continual revelation that comes about in relationship not separation. All things are relational and require relationship.

God is at the source of order, purpose and function and as such must be intimately involved with the entirety of the universe. The other part of the equation is that all must perform its order, purpose and function so that it all works. Even when it does not – it still behaves according to the consequences of that basic law. It is a relational and co-operative existence of one natural reality. It is interdependency on a universal proportion. We having been given a choice in the matter must also co-operate with the order purpose and function of the entirety of the universal order. If we remove ourselves from the natural, we cause the un-natural to occur, not God.

I had come across a bumper sticker from a group who belonged to various nature religions who had formed a society for their mutual benefit and protection. They were tired of being run over by various other religions that saw them in the context of being false religions, people who sacrificed animals, or other such horrible acts. They saw the hypocrisy of a god that was separated from the world around them and the lives of those who that god (or in some cases gods in which they believed) created. They especially had issues with a god that was supposedly loving and accepting but yet was completely harsh, vindictive, and ready to punish everything and everyone. The bumper sticker simply stated “May you have exactly the god you deserve.” What it was pointing out was that the god that most major religions accept is a god that is exclusive rather than inclusive. It pointed out the followers of those gods were the direct image of that god and deserved the repercussions of what that god was. It denied the interdependency of all things created upon each other and ultimately upon the one that created it all – God.

Again all of these things point to a perception and/or observation of a very limited god, whether it is scientifically observed or religiously perceived. God is a reality that humanity gets wrong. That is because we have the tendency to create gods in our own image and likeness. Since we have created an un-natural world order, purpose, and function, we have created a god who is far removed from our everyday lives, who is judgmental, harsh, uncaring, and un-involved with the lives and things that it supposedly has created. This god lives removed from the un-natural environment, in a separate creative reality that only occasionally and rarely crashes into this world when and if that god sees it as being to its benefit.

God is involved in everything that goes on in that God has created it all and given it permission to exist in a particular order, purpose and function. In order for it to exist it has boundaries in which it behaves. If that object, thing, animal, vegetable, mineral or individual chooses to violate that boundary of behavior, there are natural consequences that occur because it has chosen to do so not that God has willed it to be so. However those consequences can be overcome or as is pointed out biblically in that those things that were meant for harm can become good as God would have it, intended it, ordered it, purposed it, and had it created to function as.

What this indicates is our responsibility to choose to do the right and proper order, purpose and function in interacting with all things. This then highlights the fact that we are the ones who have chosen to separate ourselves and our relationships with others and God into boxes that have separate rules of engagement, order, purpose and function. That is why we act differently at work, then we do at home, then we do in social settings, politically, or anything else we are involved in. We do not love others as we love ourselves nor do we love God with similar gratitude and affection. We view ourselves as islands far removed from anything and anyone. Separated and alone choosing to interact with things only when it suits our limited, greedy, and selfish reasons. Therefore we created a god who looks and acts exactly the same as we are. God is so much more than our human limitations!

It is time to drop this separation and finally admit the interconnectivity of it all into one continuous reality. It is time for us to admit that we have created the un-natural and we need to step into the natural. We need to stop the separation of all things and understand the unity of all things under one natural and whole reality. Then and only then will we see the continual revelation of the full kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

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Creation, Liberation, and Redemption

I am currently re-reading a book by Matthew Fox entitled Original Blessing – A Primer in Creation Spirituality. The book starts with two basic questions:

  1. In our quest for wisdom and survival, does the human race require a new religious paradigm?
  2. Does the creation-centered spiritual tradition offer such a paradigm?

Matthew Fox’s answer to these questions is a yes. His premise is that Western ideologies are based upon the religious concepts that can be seen in Christianity with the emphasis on the fall and redemption exclusively. On the back of the book is a summarization by Fox:

Gandhi complained of a “Christianity without Christ.” To recover the four paths and the twenty-six themes treated in this book would be to recover a spiritual tradition that Jesus himself lived and would be at home in. It would be a basic step in living the Good News that Jesus lived and died for. It would inaugurate a truly ecumenical era in which global problems might be addressed from the wisdom of global religions and from all four states of humanity’s development. For we all share creation in common. And we share responsibility for that creation. Therefore, we are all called to re-create. And I can think of no better place to begin this re-creation than with religion itself.

To a point I do agree with Fox and his writings. The church spends way too much time on a cyclic process of the fall and then the redemption. The problem is that the church stops there and does not continue or complete the process of what it is to be a true disciple of Jesus. They are good at pointing out that humanity is responsible for its state of affairs – broken and corrupt – through self-inflicted wounds. The church is also very good at pointing out that Jesus paid the incredible price of and for redemption so that we could once again assume a position with God. That price of redemption according to the church is the perpetuation of the fall/redemption cycle of humanity being constantly and continually unworthy of any of it. The price of redemption is constantly held over your head so that you constantly owe God something in return. This negates the concept of it being a willing and free gift given without need of payback in our terms. We are constant debtors and thus never really redeemed to full participation. We never really resume our original role as co-creators entrusted to redeem the rest of creation not just humanity.

This can be seen in the theme of Romans 8 where by all the captives are set free – not just humanity but the whole of creation who has actively awaited the coming of the son of man who then empowered the sons of man to set the captives free. This is the true liberation theology. Man through his corruption made it possible for the creation to become corrupted. It is now through Jesus (the original son of man) that we (the adopted sons of man) have the ability, capability, and authority to put creation back into its original order, purpose and function. However with the current religious thought this becomes impossible because none of us can progress since we are constantly unworthy.

With this view of religion we never get to Pentecost but are stuck at the cross. We never get past it even if we celebrate the resurrection. We return quickly to the foot of the cross and dwell there having again been reminded how terrible and unworthy we are. This is not to say that we should not go through repentance but rather once we have turned away from our own death and destruction, that we become full inheritors of the kingdom. This can be seen and is demonstrated through the parable of what we call the Prodigal Son. The son is fully restored once he turns from the life of corruption. Furthermore the son believes himself to be unworthy to ever to become a full member of the household. The father will have none of this and fully restores the position of the son in spite of not being fully cleaned up. The son is whisked away to rejoin the family with a banquet in honor of his return from being corrupted. The caveat of the tale is the response of the older son who tries to put condition on the father’s love. This is what the church would have us become. There we are powerless to do anything more than to cry through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. We never get to the position of a relationship with God which was the purpose of the original position of the first of humanity.

Fox begins his discourse with a realignment of the word wisdom. In western culture wisdom has come to mean an accumulation of knowledge, the ability to understand things that most people cannot, and/or the knowledge of what is proper or reasonable. Fox however brings a different approach to the meaning of the word wisdom. He prefers a definition he attributes to the Native American tradition which means: that the people may live. This is not a new concept. If anything it goes along with the mission statement of Jesus found in John 10:10 that Jesus came so that we may have life more abundantly. This is not a meaning by which the individual merely survives but rather it fills out the meaning of life. The implications that Fox asserts are beauty, freedom of choice, giving birth, discipline and celebration. The implication is that this is not just for a particular set of individuals but for all of creation without regard to station or gender. It has to do with the love of life, loving others and the rights of others to have that same love and dignity.

The church has a tendency to dismiss the initial condition of humanity. It does so in its form of teaching especially in its handling of Genesis 1 to 2:3. They quickly gloss over the entirety of it. They miss the point of establishing what humanity was supposed to look like in relation to the rest of creation, the responsibilities that it entailed and the initial and intended relationship of God, humanity and all of creation. The church rushes to the site of the fall to bolster its worldview of a fallen and corrupt humanity who is no longer worthy of the price of redemption but who nonetheless receives it from a god set on punishing humanity even through the redemptive process.

The purpose of redemption is restorative in bringing humanity back to its original order, purpose and function as outlined in Genesis 1 through 2:3. It was the original blessing that we are to be returned to if we accept the gift. The gift was bought at a tremendous price yes but it was done out of love without consideration of extracting a tariff, charge, or repayment. It was given freely in as much as we need to accept it freely.

You cannot buy your redemption from God. God is not a televangelist asking for a donation in order to receive something in kind. It must be accepted without condition as it was given without condition. God’s love is unconditional. It is given equally. God may love the sinner and hate the sin but that does not put a price tag upon the freely given redemptive act. It would then not be a gift. It is now and will continue to be a gift. To further prove this God then gives those who accept the gift of redemption the power and authority to act as a representative of God’s unconditional love.

So why is it that the church continues in a fashion that is not concurrent with the teachings of Jesus? Because the church has lost its original concept of restorative action and empowerment of the individual in relationship and interdependency for one that primarily functions as a power structure. The church needs to return to its roots as a hospital, a teaching source and a maker of disciples who proclaim the good news.

The concept of Jesus redemptive action is taken up in Isaiah 61. It is not just the declaration of purpose where the Spirit of the Lord is upon Jesus but it is a statement of liberation from affliction, captivity, and imprisonment. It is a proclamation that God has returned to full relationship taking up retribution for the offense and comforting all those who mourn the loss of that relationship. It is a restorative act of humanity and the places of the earth not only in the present moment but also for the generations to come in everlasting covenant with them.

We move further into the liberation of all things with the promise of the day of the Lord as revealed in Joel 2. The Spirit will poured out on all people and full restoration of all that has been taken and corrupted. This is the liberation of all of creation with humanity being restored as the ones who will put things back into order, purpose and function.

We are the ones to restore what we have corrupted – body, mind, and spirit – through the work, life, death and resurrection of Jesus fully empowered by God to do so by the indwelling of the Spirit in every believer. We are the ones to set the captives free which is all of creation not just humanity. Not to do so completely is to deny the original order, purpose, and function that man has been redeemed to. We cannot just stop at the cross but must move onto Pentecost because there is where we have been empowered to bring about the fullness of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

 

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