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). 
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.
 From Aramaic on the Teaching of Jesus, Lamsa, Holman,