Sunday, May 4, 2014

Christians and Politics

Driving along a major road in my town, there is a particular corner where men and women are waiting with clipboards next to their big sign that states: "Impeach Obama" and displays a "Hitler" mustache on the face of our President. They sit there at least a few times a month. As I drive by, not knowing whether these people claim to be Christians or not, I still think about the oxymoron that is Christians in politics.

It might be someone's first reaction to assume that I am not for Christians in politics at all, especially after they read this post. The truth is that I believe that politics should have balance when it is a part of a Christian's life and that it is difficult to maintain balance when we are ultra involved (in politics). It is also difficult to maintain a proper Christian witness. As Christians, we should support measures that help maintain civil order or try to correct gross social offenses, but civil order and social offenses will not ever be remedied by politics and it can often take time and energy away from our commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and our greatest command (Matthew 22:36-40). As John MacArthur says in an essay concerning Christians and Politics:

 "A certain amount of healthy and balanced concern with current trends in government and the community is acceptable,  as long as we realize that that interest is not vital to our spiritual growth, our righteous testimony, or the advancement of the kingdom of Christ. Above all, the believer's political involvement should never displace the priority of preaching and teaching the gospel...The greatest temporal good we can accomplish through political involvement cannot compare to what the Lord can accomplish through us in the eternal work of His kingdom. Just as God called ancient Israel (Ex. 19:6), He has called the church to be a kingdom of priests, not a kingdom of political activists."

Commission:

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you..."

Command:

''Teacher which is the greatest commandment in the Law? and he said to them, ''You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these depend all the Law and the Prophets.''


Why is it that I think politics in the Christian life can be such a tricky thing to balance? Politics is, by nature, divisive and God's word says: ''A house divided cannot stand.'' (Mark 3:25) If we, as Christians, cannot stand together we cannot go out into the world and accomplish meeting the world's needs.

Now someone might say: 'Wouldn't trying to accomplish meeting needs through politics be a way to make a vast change in the lives of many people?' I don't think so.

One, I don't think we were ever meant to have government. I believe it is an institution that God allowed us to have and has ordered us to obey but not what was originally intended for us. Two, the change will most likely only last for the term of whatever politician is in office. Three, laws induce only superficial change and not deep heart change. It is a distant way of meeting a need. It lacks the touch of God's hand through ours. Fourth, I do think we should handle gross injustice in the political system- don't get me wrong. However, it should not take up so much time that we are not touching people who are affected by these laws one on one. Do we fight for the Right to Life? We can, but how long will those laws last? Can we find ways to reach out and embrace women considering abortion? There are options in your own church and organizations that would love to have more manpower.

I know that we need to be aware of laws that might take away our freedom and, more importantly, laws that take protection away from the innocent. But even this does not outweigh our great command, because this command must be obeyed  in spite of what our government does, no matter what state it is in , no matter what freedoms we do or do not have. And we can overlook strengthening our awareness and our practical involvement when we are too involved in the political side. Do I love having these rights and freedoms? Yes, I do. I would be scared if they were taken away, yet I don't think my greatest call is to fight for them.

Psalms 33:12 says: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!"

But that does not mean that because America was supposedly founded on Christian principles that God is the Lord of our nation. As a country we have not chosen him,  neither by laws will we bring a nation to him. Morality of a people is not the priority, reaching individuals who will also love and serve God is the priority.
The moral decline of America is not political anyway and cannot be solved by politics. The moral decline is spiritual and can only be helped in that way. The moral decline is not because of our political system, our political system only reflects us as a country. If we could focus on the people and could be the real church there would be healing and the political system would reflect the healing.

"If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face then will I hear from heaven and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

That is the way that we will be healed. That is a priority. If the whole land is not Christian we cannot make them so by law. And when we begin to fight (and I mean fight) for those sorts of laws we can become hostile toward political leaders, opposing parties, and real people who are "on the other side." We see ourselves as right and them as wrong instead of them as a human in need and us as a human who can lift them up. Our tongue is our deadliest weapon when it should be our greatest tool and it inflicts wounds that are slow healing. God does not give us an out when it concerns politics.Our tongue is not suddenly our own and allowed to be wielded how we choose. When people appear to us as part of a party or political affiliation, or anything other than another sinful and hurting human, we can distance them and we do. They do not seem so worthy of our help any longer. Our tongue and our action can become hurtful, distancing, and proud.

“With it (our tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.” James 3:9-12

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." James 3:17-18

We must honor our government and those leaders, we should honor the freedom people have given their life for by voting, we should maintain an interest in what is going on, but we must be aware of heavy involvement and the energy and resources it can take away from the day to day spiritual warfare we are engaged in. Those who have been called to politics, be aware of the humility of spirit and tongue that we are still called to and the lifting up of Christ that will draw men and women to him.

"Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior our Lord Jesus Christ." (Philippians 3:20)






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