Tag Archives: christian politics

Of disciples and powers – or – Give to Caesar?

I’m going to take a risk at rambling here. I haven’t written on this site in over a year, I think. But this weighs heavy on my heart, and I want to get some thoughts out.

Christians debate round and around about politics, government and morality. It’s heartbreaking. It’s like the Accuser has us at one another’s throats to cut each other down and rip one another apart with our opinions and ideas.

First, let’s look at the calling of the church. We are the sons and daughters of God, the descendants of the “seed” mentioned in Hebrews. That seed being Christ, the seed of Abraham that was said to be a blessing to *all* the nations of the world.

We are meant to be a blessing to all of the nations.

Can we be a blessing if we’re busy cutting each other apart? Can we be any help if we’re at each others throats so much about how the world should be behaving that all they see is division, anger and hatred?

No, we cannot. And we will not should we choose to persist in our behavior.

We are behaving as those who do not believe in our King who intercedes for us before the throne of God. We are behaving as animals out for mere survival, thinking only of temporal nations and not the everlasting rule of the One True King that will never, ever end.

I think it is genuinely essential, crucial for us to look at the teachings of the early church, those who were mere generations after the apostles who walked and talked with our Lord and Messsiah. What did they have to say?

Origen quoted a prophecy of Isaiah:

Who among the believers does not know the words in Isaiah? “In the last days the mountain of the Lord shall be revealed, and the house of the Lord on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills. All nations shall come to it. Many people shall go and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his way, and we will walk in it.” For out of Zion shall go forth a law, and a word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more [Isa. 1:2-5]. (Letter from Origen to Africanus 15)

The nations are not, at this moment coming to the House of the God of Jacob because we are so divided against one another. We are of this or that affiliation. We are on the left. We are on the right. We are of our opinion.

The church is meant to be a beacon of hope, light and life. They will see our love for one another and be amazed and say, “Look! See how they love each other? Let’s go and ask them how we should live!”

And our humble reply is to obey the master.

But no, they are not coming to us. I believe that part of this is because we are beating down their doors to force them into submission to a master they do not have any interest in serving.

Paul, in 1 Thessalonians tells us to make it our ambition to lead a quiet life and work hard with our hands, that the outside world will see our work and glorify God. We don’t give them time to see us work hard and with love because we’re too busy NOT minding our own business and caring for the kingdom of God.

In 1 Corinthians Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that we are not to spend our time judging and assessing the world and their ways, but to focus instead on one another in the church. That we should watch out that we do not behave as the pagans, or those who are not following the King do. He says that we would have no one to speak to if we insist on judging the world. That’s not our domain. No, ours is the church, the Kingdom.

We are a transcendent nation meant to go beyond any borders, tribe, tongue or political affiliation. We are not of this world. We are citizens of the king who have BEEN RANSOMED FROM THE VERY SYSTEM WE INSIST ON BEING PART OF AND PROPPING UP.

I’m no socialist, communist or capitalist. Though my earthly citizenship is in the U.S., I have to acknowledge that my King, the Christ, Jesus, ransomed me with His very blood to rescue me from thinking like this earthly nation. And not just this nation, every nation. One of the many things he has ransomed us from is the idea that the nations could ever fix it all.

The scriptures make clear that the nations and powers are tools of God. God uses them for his wrath and to carry out justice. But Jesus never allowed his disciples to take up this task. In fact, when Peter drew his sword to stand up for Jesus (the way we so often do day to day, thinking we need to defend the author of all life) he was disarmed and only made more glorious work for Jesus to carry out in healing.

Jesus had to heal the man Peter saw as an enemy of God. Peter had good intentions, the same as so many of us, and Jesus disarmed him despite those good intentions.

Can you see this scenario in our daily lives? We see so many as a threat to God and his morality. We draw swords and work hard to control the powers of this world. But when we play by their rules, drawing the sword (whether by word or deed) we only wind up cutting off ears and making more work for the Father to do despite our actions.

As far as participating in violence goes, there’s not room here for me to list the many, many writings from the early church fathers regarding this. They are clear. For some meaty lists, Christian History for Everyman or go here for another list that is even longer.

In my opinion, there’s no disputing what they had to say. They were clear. Those in the first 3 centuries of what we call Christianity were forbidden to participate in the violence of the powers.

Personally, I would go even farther to simply look at the example of Jesus himself. He and the disciples stood, walked and talked in the midst of one of the most horrid, debased empires. The debauchery around them was intense. And yet, you don’t hear Jesus speaking out against the governing powers of Rome. Instead, he focused on those who were trying to follow his heavenly Father.

He even stood before the powers, innocent and blameless, and subverted them by submitting to death. He overthrew them by being still rather than overthrowing them with the very tactics that they used day in and out.

Our King rules with a power that submits and subverts, overthrowing with love, rather than force. There are no laws against the calling of Christ to love one another. The powers cannot stop us.

He taught us to pay our taxes without complaint.

Paul and Peter taught us to pray for our rulers, regardless their sin. It should be noted that they did this during the time of Nero, a disgusting man who would light Christians up as torches to light his garden. He enjoyed our torture. Yet Paul and Peter were still there telling us to submit, as our Lord did. To pray and beg God for mercy and grace on them.

Christ, Paul, Peter, John… they all stood before the horrid authorities over them knowing full well that God is our defender.

The martyrs throughout the centuries faced the beasts and executioners knowing full well that God is our defender.

We, however, live in fear of a nation falling apart in immorality.

God is still our defender. And fear IS NOT A FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. 

The difference I see between us and the early church is that we have a government that seemingly asks and requires our participation. Rome did not do this. America, however, permits us to have a voice.

Therefore, we really should do what we can.

But, this does not mean that we should behave as though we are fighting for America. We are not, and it is imperative that we DO NOT.

The Kingdom of the Living God is the goal. His kingdom is eternal and will have no end.

The nations of this world will, without doubt, pass away and no trace of them remain in the scope of the rule of our King.

Don’t be afraid. Set your eyes on Christ, the king. He will defend. He does not need us to pick up swords, whether physical, emotional or the swords of our tongues. He needs us to live, love and move in Him and Him alone.

Do we hide our heads in the sand? No. Speak up as you are given right to for *actual* injustice. But do so in the Spirit of our King, not on the basis of opinion.

Our opinions and mindsets cannot be fueled by the talking heads of our age. We cannot allow the church to be shaped and molded and manipulated by Spirit of the age that keeps us fighting. The fighting and bickering is their culture, and not ours. 

We were never told that the world would know us because we fight, argue and scream louder. No, they will know us by our love. Our minds must be renewed to not get entangled with their logic that the cross has turned into foolishness.

Yes, the cross has turned their culture and political wars into foolishness.

We have to give ourselves over to this truth, the cross is foolishness to the wise of this world. Our minds must be given over to THE WAY of Christ to be renewed and saved from thinking about ruling the world the way the powers, people and cultures who war against one another.

There is no power that can go to war against the love presented in the Cross.

There is no power that can prevail against it.

If, however, we spend our time listening to the logic of the world rather than the teaching and instruction of our master, we will fall into the trap of compartmentalizing our faith. What we do is call ourselves Christians, but neglect to let the love and clear teaching of Jesus guide our actions, mindsets and even our voting.

Instead of weighing who to vote for or what causes is just against ideologies like Capitalism or Socialism, we should be weighing all things against the living, breathing WORD of God who walks and talks with his Church.

If we do not weigh all things this way, the cross, when presented, will look like nonsense. We will scoff at loving actions because they do not line up with our ideologies.

Make no mistake, the way of Christ, His love and self sacrifice *is* a threat to every power because, in the end, it will undermine all of them. But, if *all* submit to the Way, then the powers have nothing to do. The systems break down. The poor are cared for and the rich are generous.

Sure, the thought of those last few statements may make some bristle, but it *is* the picture painted by the scriptures, and it is the heart of God that all of his children live together, in harmony and generosity.

We are meant to be the salt of the earth. We are meant to be the Body of the Living Christ.

May we all ask ourselves, every morning and night, “Father, how is my mind overpowered by the culture around me? Teach me, loving Father to think like you think. Teach us to love as you love. Teach us to see what you see. Teach us, blessed King, teach us how to live.”

America the Humble… or, not so much yet

Yesterday I posted my thoughts on the election… I was working out how I felt about everything. A friend directed me to this. This is a post by a German Church leader named Wolfgang Simson. I am reposting it here without permission, but they don’t seem like the type that would mind.

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“OUR DEAR AMERICA” – Wolfgang Simson – COMMENTS?

NOTE: I know that a lot of our Christian friends in America are hurting after the re-election of Obama, and I can certainly understand this. But let me ask you a couple of questions: – Do you think US Christians will be more anguished or less anguished over the spiritual state of America in the next 4 years because of this result? And do you think they will likely PRAY more for America or less for America because of it? – You see, from God’s point of view there can always be more to these things than meets the eye. Below is a very thought-provoking piece about Obama’s re-election that I ask everyone to read with an open heart…

OUR DEAR AMERICA – Where do you go From Here?
by Wolfgang and Mercy Simson.

Today, Obama has been re-elected; all the efforts of many Christian
leaders, prayer movements, “prophets” and “concerned Americans”
who have lobbied, written appeals, articles, books, letters – some
have even done films – to warn not to vote for him have come to
nothing. Many of them have behaved as if the future of the Kingdom
of God is at stake. Well, it is not.

Can we, as foreigners who dearly love you as a people, say a few
words into this situation? Because it is evident to us that God has
a clear plan with your nation. But many don ́t seem to see it, and
therefore run the danger of fighting the wrong fight, wasting precious
time and resources, and even endlessly call upon God to do what
he just will not do.

The German weekly Der Spiegel, kind of a German Time Magazine,
has a cover picture of Uncle Sam in bed, titled, The American
Patient: The decline of a Great Nation. We think this is a prophetic
picture. As your friends, we know, acknowledge and admire that
America has had a great past. But how will your future look like?

God chastises whom he loves because he knows: pride will come
before the fall, and humbleness and brokenness is the only condition
he responds to. We personally sense we need to tell you: the
destiny of your nation is in God’s hands, not yours. It is not at all
about Obama or Romney, it is about God using all the nations in
the world according to his global and unchanging plans. Did you
ever allow the thought that God in his sovereignty is using Obama
like a pawn on his chessboard to humble the US as a nation
because he wants to show his grace to a nation gone completely
self-sufficient? A nation that is so full of independence, individualism,
nationalism and trusting a greed- and fear-based economy that there
may be only one way open to heal it from its idolatry and re-align
itself with the Kingdom of God: a crisis beyond anything that
America has ever seen?

In 2008, God has been challenged by a man standing up in public,
preaching to the cheers of a huge crowd: “Yes we can!” We watched
it; we saw the tears of excitement in the eyes of the people; the
statements were received as if coming from the Messiah himself,
and the electoral rallies had all the flavor of a religious revival. “Yes,
we can” is the exact opposite of the King of kings saying: “Without
me, you can do nothing!”

If God is the one who “deposes kings and raises up others” (Dan
2:21), does it really matter what are the names of the current
puppets set in place by God that advance both the New World
Order and the Kingdom of God? Neither Herod, Pilate nor Caesar
were truly important for the development of the Kingdom. That is
exactly why Kingdom people do not play in the Second League,
but the First, the one that matters. The one that puts the Kingdom
first, and everything else – including their own nation – second.

The problem of the current commotion and insecurities arises
when even the people that call themselves after God keep confusing
the Kingdom of God with the United States of America. And when
that happens, especially through Christians with a public voice,
then we have truly lost all perspective of the coming Kingdom of
Jesus Christ and the predictions he has made that will precede
his coming.

America is being publicly humbled by God; and he is going to use
Obama – and those after him – to further advance his agenda that
will lead all nations to kneel before that one true King Jesus very
soon. If any nation wants to become a tower that reaches up to
high heaven, it will be humbled by a God who will not share his
glory with people relying on their own strength.

America, where do you go from here? What does this mean for
you? The future is going to be very, very rough. Your securities
will vanish, the economy will go down, the education system will
become even worse, the streets more dangerous, the churches
even more divided, the youth even more disillusioned – unless
there is a true movement that abandons all those idols mentioned
above, and radically repents, makes a radical alignment with the
King of the Kingdom of God and his constitution, live the Law of
Christ in all areas of life, first and foremost in the areas of sex,
money, power and how we “do church”. This is a defining moment
for you as a nation. You could go down, as the German journalist
of ‘Der Spiegel’ predicted. Or, America could be literally re-invented
by Kingdom people who are ready to implode the prevailing myths
about America’s greatness, and replace it by God’s greatness.
The King has even greater things purposed and would fulfill those
purpose IF those who call themselves after Jesus the King, would
turn away from their self-made religion, self-made churches and
religious factions, self-made visions of success, and their self-made,
harmless God.

Can we lovingly but urgently call you back at this hour to begin and
initiate a movement to reposition and repatriate yourselves into the
eternal Kingdom, by submitting yourself not only in theory but also
in practical deeds to Jesus the King, starting to obey the King and
his liberating decrees in all the areas that count? You might even
want to write a declaration of dependence on God and each other,
because by idolizing anything else before and over God, you will
become illegal aliens in the country that counts, where we all are
called to have our home: the Kingdom, the one place where our
true citizenship, nationality and allegiance lies (Phil 3:20). This is
the only one country that will not be shaken, as it has an
unchanging King.

If there is any way that we can help you in this great challenge
and task – we want you to know we will.

-Wolfgang and Mercy Simson, Germany.

More thoughts on the election

These are some excellent and pointed posts about our life as Christians in a very political world… and warning, these will challenge you out of your comfort.

From Donald Miller “The President isn’t going to have much of an influence over your life in the next four years. But this person will: http://bit.ly/RU8Xo6 “

 

My friend Luke has a very wise post this morning.
buff.ly/T2vO2r