There are few topics like politics that threaten to divide even the closest of relationships. It’s definitely a heated and loaded subject. But as Christ followers, we should be able to rise above the ideological battles and think beyond party affiliations. There needs to be maturity in elevating the conversation beyond our pet issues. Karl Barth said, “We should read the Bible in one hand while holding the newspaper in the other.” It is paramount that we not just have opinions but weigh them against Scripture as well.
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15).
The Bible is a funny book when it comes to matters of state. I believe it endorses many forms of government:
- SOCIALISM – common ownership of industry/production; equal distribution. (Acts)
- COMMUNISM – abolishment of inequalities, central control of all facets of the economy. (Israel under King David and the building of the temple).
- TOTALITARIANISM Total control over personal and public lives, an all-encompassing ideology, and a personality cult. (Levitical laws – festivals, Yahweh only, multitudes of restrictions)
And yet, there is no mention of democracy. There is a danger when we over spiritualize and emphasize politics.
We make the mistakes of…
Placing All Hope in an Agenda. “Are you for us or our enemies?” (v. 13) We are mistaken to think that God advocates one party over another or to claim that the other can’t even follow Christ. It’s a dilemma reconciling politics and spirituality. One party focuses on morality, pro-life stance, traditional values, but at times appears to favor the affluent and the contradictory issue of capital punishment. The other focuses on the needs of the underserved, universal healthcare, and social reforms. However, the cost of championing equality often promotes tolerance and favoring unbiblical lifestyles. Both have biblical, valid, and noble purposes. They are also wrought with corruption, pride, and arrogance. To answer Joshua’s question: God is not here to take sides, He’s here to take over. “I am commander of the LORD’s army.”
Putting All Trust in the Government “I am at Your command” (v. 14)
We are making a major mistake when we depend on political solutions for moral vacuums in America. There are 2 distinct problems when Christians rally around our Judeo-Christian heritage. 1. Our origins might not be as Christian or as pure as we like to make them out to be. You think we’ve had scandals? If only CNN was available in the 1700’s: slave owners, affairs, deceitful business practices, deism. We want to take back America for God? When was it ever God’s? While we were slaughtering Native Americans and stealing their land, or the slave trades, or even the civil rights riots? 2. We live in a different world now and society doesn’t have the moral framework it used to. Our “founding fathers,” Christian or not believed in a “guiding hand” leading to truth and freedom. How does that fit in our world today where there are no moral absolutes, no hand, and no God? “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” said John Adams. If the people aren’t moral or religious, it’s null and void because the government can’t provide it. In a democracy, government can’t be any better than its people. And perhaps we depend on government too much to do what, maybe, God has called us to do.
When we should…
Perform our Duties “Take off your sandals for this is holy ground.” (v. 15)
Romans 13:1-5 declares that government is here to punish, protect, and preserve order. We on the other hand, are to be as salt, and a shining light. Too often, we have used religion to polarize our society and marginalize individuals. People are not our enemies. If we reversed Roe v. Wade, passed marriage protection amendments, captured every terrorist, and saved social security, would that guarantee our nation turning back to God? In this recent first decade, has our nation drawn any closer to repentance and revival? For all of our efforts in boycotts, picketing, and screaming…has any legislation furthered God’s Kingdom? The moral and spiritual vacuum in America will be healed when God’s people pray fervently, repent sincerely, and obey His Word faithfully! (2 Chronicles 2:7-14).
Participate Through Service “What do you want your servant to do?” (V. 14)
We must realize the limitations of politics and defer to faith in God. Our vote counts but so do our efforts. “Those who are citizens of God’s kingdom are best equipped to be citizens of the kingdom of man,” said St. Augustine. Let’s roll up your sleeves and get involved. It’s time to throw down our swords and pick up the towel. Inspire Urbana has been a great start, but do we dare go further to meeting practical and emotional needs in our community? Let’s not be too hasty in answering for it will require sweat and a sacrifice of time and resources.
Yes, by all means, be involved in the political process, but realize that agendas and mandates change, Biblical ones don’t. Public officials have a job to do. Pray for them. We’ve got a job to do. Get busy. And when God carries out His Sovereign Plan, get out of the way. Remember, God can work through anyone, any situation, and any political party.
“I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the One who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and His kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to Him. He has the power to do as He pleases among the angles of heaven and with those who live on earth. No one can stop Him or challenge Him, saying, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’” – Do you know who said that? King Nebuchadnezzar, Ruler of Babylon (605-562B.C.)