Above the Fray (part 1)
In our church service at Victory yesterday, I began a short series talking about how we as Christians should approach the polarized political arena in our nation today.
It’s obvious that our once great nation is in trouble. A rapid downward spiral, politically, economically, spiritually, socially, morally. What are the answers?
We live in a totally divisive age. Our nation has become as divided as ever: Republican versus Democrat. Rich versus poor. Black versus white. Conservatives versus liberals. The vitriol has become intense if you listen to the political news and radio shows. Really, people just aren’t nice to each other any more. Can’t we disagree without being disagreeable?
I asked the question, if Jesus were here, would He be a democrat or a republican, or neither? What is the role of the church on government?
The underlying New Testament idea of our attitude towards political issues is in my view addressed well by Jesus as He was put on trial by the religious leaders of His day.
Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him. (34) Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?” (35) “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?” (36) Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:33-36 -NLT).
The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.” (8) When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. (9) He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. (10) “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?” (11) Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin” (John 19:7-11 -NLT).
Jesus emphasized in the above scripture that His Kingdom was not on earth, and that there was a greater power behind every earthly ruler, and that power is the power of our great Father God! In the light of Jesus’ statements, I believe it’s really important today to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
What this means is that we must put the great commission Jesus gave the church to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature above seeking to change our government to agree with our Christian beliefs!
We are sinners from birth. The human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Sinners desire sin over godly living. Practically speaking, there is no way to legislate prayer in the public arena when the hearts of the masses of people have no desire for God. And sinners enjoy sex without the confines of marriage. And if that behavior they enjoy produces life, the sinful heart has no problem with aborting that new life. It’s in the way of their self-pleasure. So, we can picket abortion clinics and deride those entering them for their wrong living, but there will be no change in our culture that desires these things until an internal heart change has occurred. And for that reason we must seek the Kingdom of God and the salvation of the sinner as our number one priority above national redemption. In fact, I believe strongly that our nation can only be saved from total ruin by another great spiritual awakening.
I want to introduce here another way to deal with the political issues of our day from my viewpoint as a Christian. Here it is: God did not call us to win the political debate, He called us to represent Jesus in our culture, regardless of where we live. Our life as a Christian should transcend the country where we live and its values.
Our main calling in the great commission given by the Lord Jesus is not to change our government, but to win individuals to Jesus, one person at a time! And that will come as they observe our lifestyle as we deal with the same pressures and issues that all people face in the 21st century.
There is a huge ideology alive in the church today that to win our nation back, we must win back the government, and change the laws to favor our Judeo-Christian ethics. Of course, I certainly believe that we should vote and be educated and involved in politics. But we must at the same time be careful that we don’t allow these political issues to dominate our lives to the point that we push away (because of our differences) the very people we’re seeking to reach with the good new of the gospel of salvation by Jesus blood!
I submit to you that we’ll not change the course of our nation until we the hearts of the masses are changed, one person at a time!
I’ll continue this theme tomorrow. Don’t forget, If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).