Maybe I’m paying closer attention, but it seems like politics are more and more in the limelight with every passing year. Last year was no exception. And this year is proving the same. And this week. However, there is nothing new under the sun, even when it comes to political clamor.
It’s easy to get pulled into political news blackholes if we are not careful. Political vortexes abound. We may need to watch our step at times. It’s easy to fall in. How consumed should we be with the Caesars? How exercised should we be over the hullabaloos of the Herods? How eager should we be to spectate the Burr-Hamilton duels?
At times, these can provide for a mental pit-stop, to remind ourselves of a few things. Who is the King of kings? What is our highest citizenship? What can government do? What can government not do?
Is government charged with the church’s mission? Is the church charged with the government’s mission? How can I be used of God to bring about change in society?
A good place to begin is Matthew 16:18, “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
Jesus birthed and is building his unstoppable organism, the church. This cannot be said of any human government or political party.
He then delegated the church with her mission.
And Jesus spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).
There it is. Make disciples. The necessary implication is to preach and speak the good news of Christ crucified and resurrected to solve the greatest problem facing humanity; our sin. The change that we are to be used to bring about is first spiritual, not political. We want people to be born of the Spirit, bow the knee in faith to Jesus, and follow him.
Christ claims our lives. He doesn’t own part, but all of us. So, above all, Christians are citizens of Christ’s eternal, spiritual kingdom.
“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm’” (John 18:36–37).
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).
Jesus’ empire is not any earthly empire or nation. His citizens are not primarily earthly in allegiance.
All of this, then, brings clarity to what government can do vs. what the church can do, and how we might involve ourselves in those respective realms.
A Christian who attempts to speak about Christ with his liberal-leaning friend does far more to further God’s cause and love his friend than if he were to disdain him about his political views and get into charged political debates with him. If you think that your friend’s political and moral leanings need to change, don’t talk to him so much about his political leanings. Talk to him about his need for the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of the biblical Jesus.
Christians who participate in their church’s corporate prayer meeting to pray for the salvation of the lost and the godliness of their church are doing more to further God’s cause than those who angrily posts to social media and rants against his senator about a political issue.
A Christian who participates in her church’s evangelism ministry—to share Christ with the lost in their town—is doing far more to further God’s cause and help people than one who sends politically charged emails to her liberal-leaning friends.
A Christian who attempts to get to know his ultra-liberal neighbor, appropriately confesses some sin to him, and prays for him is doing far more to further God’s cause than attempting to engage in politically charged debate with him.
A Christian who sees, mourns, and confesses his proud thoughts to a fellow church member, while asking for help and prayer, is doing far more good than confessing his anger to a church member about the latest political scandal.
A pastor who preaches long expositional, verse-by-verse sermons through the Bible is doing far more good for the congregation and God’s purposes than the pastor who opens the Bible in the pulpit, and uses it as a launching point for political musings and rants.
A Christian who laments his sin in prayer is doing more for God’s purposes than one who laments the well-doing of a political figure he despises.
A Christian who carves out time to read his Bible and pray each day is doing more for God’s purposes than one who carves out time to stay up to speed on the latest political scandal.
A Christian who prioritizes financial giving to a New Testament kind of biblical local church is doing more to further God’s cause than the one who prioritizes giving to a political party.
A Christian who attends biblical training classes at his church to grow is doing more to further God’s cause than one who spends more time attending heated rallies and gatherings to promote a political agenda.
A Christian who prays for her unsaved friend, builds a relationship, and discusses Christ is probably doing more for God’s cause than the one who angrily protests a moral issue with other Christians.
If we’re going to use social media, fill it with Bible verses, not political platitudes. If we’re going to email our unsaved friends, send them expressions of care, not politically-charged memes with exclamation points.
If we want our friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, town, nation and world to change, speak kindly to them about their need for Christ crucified, don’t drop them impersonal messages about the ridiculousness of their political views. Pray for them biblically, don’t blast them politically.
Is it wrong to participate in the political realm? Of course not. The church is not anti-politics. But it is pro-disciple-making and gospel-preaching. When a Christian prioritizes God’s kingdom over man’s or America’s, he will be a much better servant of the kingdom of man or America. And, there are necessary times to use political vehicles to do good.
Biblical Christianity is not anti-government, but it is trans-government. It is not restricted to, or dependent upon, government. We can and should thank God for many benefits of our government. But, one thing is clear from Scripture and history: the church has continued to exist even under highly imperfect governments. So, we should not tie ourselves too tight to a particular human government. Our mission is disciple-making through speaking the good news of Christ crucified.
Consider what the apostles are doing as they travelled throughout the Roman Empire. Are they mobilizing political parties, rallies, and riots? They are commanding people to trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, plug fully into New Testament churches, grow, pray, be salt and light, evangelize, then die.
Thereafter, New Testament pastors are not commanded to preach politics (1 Tim. 4:13). The church is not called to exposit the constitution or the magna cart or political headlines or cultural opinion or news networks. The church is called to preach the word of God (2 Tim. 4:2). We are to confront the culture with the cross of Christ, not with political positions. We must meet the lost with God’s imminent judgment, not political agendas. We confront our nation with the need of repentance, not republicanism.
The greatest human government cannot advance God’s kingdom and bring about eternal life. And the worst human government cannot remove God’s kingdom and destroy eternal life.
Are we more interested in winning people to our political position than we are to Jesus Christ? A person can embrace your political agenda and still go to hell.
Source: The Cripplegate |Eric Davis