A while ago, I wrote a short article about whether or not Christians should stand up for their rights.
I knew it was not exactly what most Americans idealize, but I was still surprised at the “push-back” I received from it.
Let me be clear: I am not anti-American in the least — in fact I am extremely grateful for the blessings God has given us Americans. God has blessed us with wealth, ability to travel, and the rights to participate in government.
I also strongly believe that God’s blessings are never given so that we can pursue our own personal pleasure or safety, but so that we may glorify God.
If we aim to glorify God the way He wants to be glorified, then we will find satisfaction; but if we aim to protect our own pleasure and safety, then we will miss many opportunities to glorify God and we will live empty lives.
Our deeds may be remembered in history, but will be forgotten in eternity. We will have gained the whole world, but lost our eternal treasures.
Indeed, my concern has less to do with whether Christians should stand up for their rights, although I wince at that too, and more to do with the mindset of Western Christianity.
The problem really is our mindset. What do we have our minds set on? Is our goal to preserve the American way or to retain our American freedoms? If so, then our purpose will be determined by America’s success, instead of by the advancement of the Kingdom. We will be bound to the temporary instead of the eternal.
“Is our goal to preserve the American way or to retain our American freedoms? If so, then our purpose will be determined by America’s success, instead of by the advancement of the Kingdom. We will be bound to the temporary instead of the eternal.” — Christopher Witmer
Or is our first desire to enter and participate in building God’s kingdom and becoming righteous as He is? Nations rise and fall according to God’s will — according to what brings Him glory. He is not concerned with a nation’s glory, but with His own glory. That is His motif, His aim, His business.
Jesus made it very clear from the beginning that His purpose on earth was “to be about His Father’s business.” Jesus calls all men to follow Him in this. Furthermore, Jesus said that if we do not “hate” our own lives and family then we cannot be His disciples. He really said that! Look it up: Luke 14:25-26.
In other words, we must love Christ so much that our backgrounds, closest relationships — even our very identity — appear to be hated. C.S. Lewis said that “until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self.”
Jesus put it another by saying that if someone does not bear their own cross and follow Him, they cannot be His disciple (Lk. 14:27). The cross is the very essence of someone giving up their rights for God’s kingdom.
This is what we are called to as Christians: to forsake our comfort, our safety, yes, even our very lives — our rights — and follow Jesus Christ, ultimately into eternity. In other words, we are no longer concerned with having those things.
Jesus saw the bigger picture. He knew that the Father had put the whole world “under His feet” (John 13:3; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22), and that many lives would be eternally saved through His temporary suffering. An earthly kingdom held no attraction to Him — He already was the King of the universe!
Jesus could have easily built an earthly kingdom, but that was not His mission. He said as much when He told Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world” (Jn. 18:36).
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” — John 18:36
Jesus did not come to set up a physical kingdom, but a spiritual one. He came to save men’s souls. He came to lead us into a battle not fought with politics, guns, or swords; but with truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and by spreading the Gospel of Peace (Eph. 6).
Jesus calls us to live by the Spirit, which means living a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; rather then a life of sexual immorality, idolatry, enmity, dissension, drunkenness and so forth (Galatians 5:16-26).
God does not need American freedom. He does not need our flash, glitz and money. He doesn’t need our good deeds or our generosity. What God wants is hearts turned toward Him. He wants people who worship and serve Him not because it is popular, not because it is safe, not because He gives them money, but because He is God.
God doesn’t call us to live safe lives, make money, marry, have kids, and repeat the process. He calls us to live completely surrendered to Him: to sell everything we have and follow Him, to abandon ourselves and the regular pattern of human lives and throw ourselves at His mercy through a life of faith.
Faith is not carefully negotiated and logical, nor is it flimsy and impulsive. Faith is simply obedience to God, doing what He says whether it seems reckless or slow and tedious.
Giving your life to Christ is not like winning the lottery or maneuvering Wall Street: it is like a pauper finding out he is a prince. It is not simply a life improvement, but a radical life transformation.
Jesus is not looking for a physical or political kingdom where all the Christians can live safe and happy lives. He is looking for a spiritual kingdom which is not built necessarily by Christians holding political or social influence, but rather by individuals who are surrendered to Christ.
Our freedom is not determined by whether or not we can gather publicly to worship, speak our political beliefs or participate in government.
Our freedom is determined by whether or not we can say “no” to sin (Satan) and “yes” to the Son of God, because if the Son has set you free, then you are free indeed — regardless of physical, political, or social circumstances (Jn. 8:36).
“Our freedom is not determined by [politics]. Our freedom is determined by whether we can say “no” to sin and “yes” to the Son of God, because if the Son has set you free, then you are free indeed.” — Christopher Witmer
The problem is not just about standing up for our rights: it is about the priorities and heart conditions of American Christians.
It really is true that “God looks at the heart.”
Therefore, keeping His commands without an actual heart-change means nothing to Him. Neither do the laws of a nation mean anything to God if the hearts of the people are not bent toward Him. And if our hearts are bent toward God, we will change (keep His commands; Jn. 14:15).
That is my point.
We get so caught up trying to change everything on our own efforts that we forget things can only change by the power of God.
Whether it is a nation, a church, or an individual needing change, it is always Jesus who brings redemption, not politicians, not pastors, not church parishioners, not protestors — only Jesus.
So unless we bring Jesus to individuals, we are not building the Kingdom, but merely a temporary sandcastle.
The closest Jesus came to making public protests or demonstrations was against the so-called “people of God.” This would be more similar to someone going into a nearby mega-church and turning over all the tables in their café than to picket Washington.
Jesus was upset not because the government was corrupt, but because the “people of God” had turned the House of God — the house of prayer, of healing, of redemption — into an economic and political powerhouse.
My concern is that the American church has become infatuated with political influence and social standing and has forgotten its original call: to love (Mark 12:30-31; Jn. 15:12; 1 Corinthians 13; Matthew 18:16-20). To love God by obeying His commands; to love others by calling them to repentance and introducing them to Jesus who gives grace and by showing them His love as described in 1 Corinthians 13.
Instead we either alienate culture through our politics or try to imitate culture and become socially acceptable but forsake Christ.
What if Christians stopped fighting among themselves and with unbelievers and actually began living lives of faith and love? What if instead of compromising to please culture, we loved individuals unconditionally while remaining faithful as followers of Christ?
What if we actually loved God in private, not just on stage? What if we quit worrying about being refined, tasteful, and trendy, and started being ourselves, newly born in Christ? What if we actually obeyed Scripture — all of it — instead of explaining away certain sections we do not understand or feel comfortable with?
There is power in obedience, in living lives of worship to God, in prayer, but instead we have become infatuated with becoming famous, rich, and influential. We love how Jesus makes us feel more than we actually love Jesus.
We are so concerned with preserving American prosperity, safety and idealism, that we cannot properly see how to prevent the culture from rotting right before our eyes.
Instead of imitating how Jesus influenced people, we imitate how Washington and Hollywood influences people.
It doesn’t work.
Instead of making the culture more like Christ, we’ve made “Christ” more like the culture. Meanwhile we have actually forsaken Christ and His true Gospel which is the power of God for saving lives.
“Instead of imitating how Jesus influenced people, we imitate how Washington and Hollywood influences people. It doesn’t work. Instead of making the culture more like Christ, we’ve made ‘Christ’ more like the culture.” — Christopher Witmer
An encounter with Jesus will bring about change — true spiritual change, which will in turn change our soul and body, causing us to think, act and even look different than the world. It won’t be fake, it won’t be a façade. It will be genuine redemption which will change whole families, which will change whole communities, which will change whole nations.
But it all starts with changed hearts, not changed politics.
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Yep, my pastor says that if every woman in America was saved we wouldn’t need to try to pass laws to stop abortion. Because their hearts would be changed, and when God’s law is on your heart nobody else has to enforce it. ~Grant
Christopher, This artical is awesome. I love the way you say
“Faith is not carefully negotiated and logical, nor is it flimsy and impulsive. Faith is simply obedience to God, doing what He says whether it seems reckless or slow and tedious.” because it really is. Thank you and keep up the good work.
Wow. It really is up to this generation to change.
Thanks so much, Christopher! This is definitely food for thought. Your last article really had me thinking about this…do we really trust in God to save us, or do we see political power as what can save us? We worry about the White House. We worry about state laws. We worry about county officials. But are they worth our worry? If God is for us, who can be against us? Should we be worried about changing politics or letting God use us to change hearts? The eternal destinations of those around us should be of more concern to us than whatever law is passed. Granted, laws are reasonable concerns, but do they matter in the long run? There’s nothing wrong with advocating for Christian truths in politics, but that shouldn’t be our goal in life. Our goal should be to simply obey what Christ has commanded us: love God and each other. With everything. All the time. No matter what the law or the government or political authority says. We must love.
As a missionary in Thailand — and an American — I agree with almost every point in this article. I have many friends on Facebook who seem to be much more concerned with culture and politics than with the Kingdom of God. And, I hate to say, but when I visit the USA I actually see this in attitude, conversation, and INactivity. While well written, I would suggest that this article be edited a bit to make it less lengthy and more powerful. Otherwise, keep preaching it bro and thanks for publishing!
Thanks for your feedback, Rob! For a short version of this article, check out my article below. It’s about half as many words. 🙂
One of your most thought stimulating article yet, Christopher.
I left a not-as-good-as-my-previous-comments response on Should Christians Stand Up For Their Rights.
I think I would venture to say this article is not as concise, powerful, and well written as that one.
Be that as it may, you make some valid points–ok, a number of valid points.
I like what you say, and I whole-heartedly agree that from what I see, as the body of Christ, we do need a priority reevaluation. We, as a new generation ‘blameless and pure, shining like stars in a perverse and crooked generation’ have the opportunity to ‘set an example for the believers’. I believe that. That’s wonderful. You hadn’t mentioned that in your article because it was more about the bigger picture. Not about the influence we could have, but about the church as a whole, and the influence we know Jesus should have.
Some points to make. I don’t know a ton of kids my age, but from what I see, what I know, and the bad habits/mindsets I find in me and in others, we are a seriously lazy generation. Not just that, but our American way of life has become less about doing the hard work to preserve justice and liberty but about convenience and a world all about self.
Look not at the others around us, but into ourselves. Change starts in the individual. Jesus is our guide, our redeemer, and with the aid of His Helper, we certainly can begin to make that change in ourselves, while looking for opportunities in our lives every day to be more like Jesus, both on the inside and where others can see.
This website–these books–are all about doing hard things. But I think a lot of the message has become fuzzy. In doing hard things, we forget why we do the hard things. With no clear reason, we become lazy. But remember the reason(for the season ;D ) Glory to God, in the highest.
In any case, I’ve written enough for this late tonight. I will probably be returning with more to say sometime later, but for now, Chris, thanks, and God bless.
As a Christian who is studying politics, I disagree with this article. It is Christians who need to be involved in politics more than an other group of people, because there is no group of leaders that promotes and protects religious liberty as well as Conservative Christians. Particularly in these last few years when our government has been predominantly Liberal. For example, did you read about the baker in Colorado who was forced to bake a cake for a homosexual couple’s wedding or face federal charges? He turned the job down because it was against his religious beliefs, seeing as he was a Christian and he found homosexuality to be a sin. However, the government said that his religious liberty was not as important as this couple’s right to have a cake. Here is a link to the article: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/12/07/judge-rules-baker-must-provide-wedding-services-to-gay-couples-despite-religious-convictions/. This is not the only example of these problems happening all around the country, especially with Christian bakers and photographers.
The author writes in one line “The closest Jesus came to making public protests or demonstrations was against the so-called “people of God.” This would be more similar to someone going into a nearby mega-church and turning over all the tables in their café than to picket Washington.” However, Jesus didn’t live in a constitutional republic where citizens had a right to be heard- He lived in the Roman Empire.
The author also said, “We get so caught up trying to change everything on our own efforts that we forget things can only change by the power of God.” I agree that hearts are only changed by the power of God, but why don’t you think he can use a politician to do so, just like he could use any other person?
Earlier in the article, the author stated: “God does not need American freedom. He does not need our flash, glitz and money.” If this is your idea of American freedom, then you are very much misguided. American freedom is dependent on our unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And you are correct that God doesn’t need those things, but aren’t those rights glorifying to Him, as they are rights which He has given us?
Lastly, as Christians, we should be in support of freedom for all people. We are always going to live in a world with nonbelievers; however, we that doesn’t mean that we allow injustice. For example, we don’t allow murder, because nonbelievers don’t have a moral obligation to protect life. No! We stand for justice, because all people are made in the image of God, and therefore have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In the end, yes, changing hearts is the goal; however, why is it wrong to do so through politics?
I agree: Christians make the best politicians. Our goal as Christians is not to protect religious liberty. We are to promote relationship in Jesus Christ which produces liberty! We can have liberty from the clutches of Satan and sin whether we are being persecuted or applauded by culture.
I think you may have missed the point of the first quote. By mentioning Jesus’ turning over tables, I’m pointing out the motif that Jesus set. He was not upset at the politicians, but at the religious people who were misrepresenting God! Jesus could have protested the Romans if He wanted to…many “zealots” did in those days. But instead He specifically said that He was not building a kingdom of earth and physical territories, but a kingdom on earth made up of hearts ruled by Him.
Wouldn’t you agree with this?
The second quote, I believe you took out of context. If you are interested, I suggest you read my much shorter “Should Christians Stand Up for Their Rights” article (http://therebelution.com/blog/2014/06/should-christians-stand-up-for-their-rights/#.U9yW9uNdWSo).
What do you mean by “glorifying to Him”? Liberty and freedom: those really are attributes of God. But the liberty and freedom that come from God aren’t necessarily physical, social, or political, but primarily spiritual and emotional. In other words “if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed” not matter what people, or political circumstances tell you (John 8:36). We may, especially as Americans, experience freedom, but it is not for our personal pleasure. It is to be used for God’s glory. He may give it or take it away according to His will. It does not defeat His kingdom if America falls because His kingdom is not of this world. It’s a kingdom of hearts surrendered to Him: whether slave or free, whether American or Chinese, whether old or young.
It may not be wrong to use politics according to God’s specific calling on a person’s life. But politics don’t necessarily change hearts. Unconditional love and kindness are the ways God changes hearts (1 John 4:19; Romans 2:4). Love and kindness are NOT passive! True love and true kindness when given without merit or favor are very hard, messy, and powerful.
I agree, Christians do need to be more involved in politics than any other group, however, with the direction our country is going, it would be extremely difficult for them because of their faith and deference to God and the Bible to become involved, and their level of influence would also always be strongly opposed.
As for Christian convictions, morals, values, and virtues, they’re not well received in this world. They never have been. How do you expect any Christian in the political sphere of influence to be able to have any sway when he/she is attempting to hold tight to a Biblical world view and convictions? I.e., the wave of unaccompanied Latin American children that recently crossed into the US; I’ve heard many conversations between Christians, and what struck as sad was that these strong Christians were more passionate about the political injustice of keeping these children here when we cannot feed our own, rather than thinking of Jesus’ reaction should He have been in the politicians and/or our place.
In stating this opinion, it was pointed out to me that not everything is that black and white. Yet so many times it could be, but loyalties to anything that does not ally itself with God and His purpose pulls us away from the ultimate goal: glorifying God through our reflection of Christ.
Indeed, God has and can and probably will again used politicians to reach others for Him, as well as to influence whatever spheres of influence He gives them for His purpose, as well. But any person who serves God and desires to do nothing else but glorify Him will be given this opportunity, and politicians have so many earthly/worldly concerns burdening them. How much time will they really have to do God’s service? Some, perhaps, but there is always the gray areas, the difficulty of seeing God’s word opposed in the political circles, and in the entire country itself.
How much is American freedom about unalienable rights of life and liberty anymore? The mindset of Americans in this modern age is all of self. If a person disagrees with the way another is living(i.e., homosexual, lesbian, bisexual) and they express this, it is not met with the acceptance that our Bill of Rights Freedom of Speech should incite, rather, with defensive, offended reaction rather than response. Tell me, how is a Christian supposed to operate as a politician when every man or woman they disagree with chooses to take it as a personal offense, when every individual in the United States looks to the government to defend them, and make what they believe wrong to be right?
And another thing: how much is Christianity about the pursuit of happiness? That is not our goal. Our goal is glorification of God, and imitation of Christ, which many times has no consideration for whether we will be happy or not? Yes, God desires us to be happy, but just like Christopher pointed out so many times, in his responding comment to you, Christ’s forgiveness, God’s mercy and unconditional love are the only satisfaction we will find. Happiness apart from that is a fleeting thing, and I say this from personal experience.
Rights which He has given us? No. We surrendered our rights to Christ. ‘Take up your cross and follow Me’. How much of that entails that we are to cling to our rights?
Freedom for all people, but the word freedom is so often taken out of context. Freedom now means I can do what I want whenever I want and nobody has the right to say anything about it. Freedom is I can kill my own baby because I don’t feel like being responsible for the consequences of my sin. You are correct, nonbelievers do not have a moral obligation, whatsoever, whether it’s in protection of life or anything else. We do not stand for justice, we stand to oppose those who oppress the poor; we aid widows and orphans. It is not a religion of self-protection or preservation, but of loving and reaching out to others.
So the question is not why is it wrong to attempt to change hearts through politics, the question is whether or not we have the ability to do that with the way the world and politics is now, while they’re rejecting God and morality, ‘each doing what is right in his own eyes’, and thinking not of the future, not of an eternity, but of instant gratification.
Interesting thoughts, but as a Christian girl with a politician for a dad and a future major in political science, I disagree. If anyone should be involved with politics it should be Christians. I agree with the fact that we should pursue hearts, but I also do not believe politics are unimportant. I feel like Christians put far too much emphasis on serving God in a directly “soul-winning” way. Yes, we need pastors and missionaries and Christians teachers. We also need Christian mechanics, doctors, nurses, real estate agents, dentists, business owners, waitresses, tour guides, and– Yes– Politicians. It’s true that if all women were Christians then we wouldn’t need to make laws against abortion, but the reality is that not all women are Christians and they never will be. As much as we hate to admit it Christians will most likely always be thee minority and we need Christian politicians to make laws to ward off that evil. We actually need more Christian politicians who can use there passion for politics to serve God and change the world. As a Canadian, I can clearly see America slowly losing it’s freedom and it’s frightening to the rest of the world. I know how much canada relies on The states and it need people to spend there time preserving freedom and liberty. That’s important. I am going into politics to serve God and change things in my country for the better, and I hope youth will relize how much Christian Politicians are desperately needed.
I appreciate your feedback Addy! Thanks for commenting!
I know it’s a technicality, but I agree. Jesus din’t necessarily call us to win souls. Although the term could maybe apply, it isn’t technically Biblical. In the “Great Commission” Jesus said to “make disciples…teaching them to observe all I commanded you” (Matthew 28:16-20). So Jesus doesn’t just want people who “believe in Him” (even demons believe in Jesus), but He wants people who actually follow Him and obey His commands (James 2:19; Jn. 14:15).
I don’t think God cares as much about the laws of a nation as He does the hearts of it’s people. Jesus scolded the Pharisees for honoring God with their lips (and maybe their laws?) but not with their hearts (Matthew 15:8-9). But I don’t saw that to disregard godly laws. If we can have godly laws, then that’s a good thing. But that is not what pleases God most. If Christians came into complete power and enforced all kinds of “Christian laws” yet the hearts of the people remained unsurrendered to Christ, I believe, God would not be pleased.
They way in which we ward off evil is by taking up the armor of God.
Wouldn’t you agree?
I agree that God would not be pleased with Christian laws if no Christians hearts were right with him. But as Christians we are called to be the salt of the earth. I used to believed that that meant “Flavour”. That we stand out as a different and passiosnte “flavour’ that’s different than the world. But that actually means that one of our jobs as a Christian is to preserve the earth and hold away evil as long as possible, and I strongly believe that politics is a wonderful way to do that.
In my church, I have frequently heard about the church mobilizing to accomplish great things. From the abolition of slavery, to fighting eugenics, and of course the defense of the unborn. However, strangely missing is the call to political action and decisive support of a leader for a cause. It seems to me that in Vancouver Canada and likely elsewhere, the church has abandoned it’s political unity which it has historically used so effectively.
Tommy Douglas, William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King were followers of our Lord before they were activists, and they recognized that God had given them a united group of followers who would allow them to pursue God’s definition of justice, with God’s help. The pulpit and the church are God’s weapons of political influence and justice, and to decline that privilege is to succumb to the routine discussed in the article, of living quite uninfluential lives in a world corrupt with injustice.
For the church to take a united stand for an injustice they have come to accept (such as living off the goods produced by slaves and wars) is to do the hard thing. And that, is exactly what a Christian is called to do.
Thanks for you feedback Kurt!
You gave me some historical examples, which are fine as far as they go. But can you give me a New Testament example of using political force to spread the gospel?
I think you’re missing what Kurt is saying. He is talking about the church standing up for justice for others, which is something that definitely is a biblical mandate. He is not talking about using political force to spread the gospel, but honor and glorify God in helping those who are oppressed. This does not in any way detract from spreading the gospel, but rather is an avenue for sharing it and tangibly showing God’s love to others. It is distinct from what the article is about since the motives are wholly selfless, giving ourselves, together as the the Church, to show God’s love to others. One way this has been done in the past, as mentioned in the examples, has been through government, and (correct me if I’m wrong) the influence of Christianity has been the primary reason for the biggest changes in society, sometimes through political action.
Thanks for pointing that out, Joseph.
Followers of Jesus are commanded to stand up for justice. We should be advocates protecting and caring for the orphans, widows, homeless, slaves, unborn, etc. My greatest concern is that Christians get so caught up trying to control government so that we can control the laws. There simply is no precedent from Jesus or the apostles for doing this.
I think that even more than getting involved in politics, Jesus would like to see us get our hands dirty and invite the homeless into our own homes (Isaiah 58:7; Matthew 25:35-37); to enter hostile places and physically rescue slaves; and to provide good, healthy homes for orphans to live in. And I’m not just talking about dreamy, hypothetical ideals. I’ve watched people live this way and even my family has opened our house to homeless. I don’t say that to toot my horn, I’m just trying to say that it is possible to live out Christ’s commands (James 1:27).
Basically, I think it’s a wrong focus to focus on controlling government. I truly believe we’re more effective in the spiritual realms when we love our neighbors, give shelter to the homeless, care for orphans and widows, etc. It’s easy to picket Washington, it’s hard to house homeless people or to adopt orphans. But so much more meaningful and goes farther in bringing someone to Christ.
I see what you’re saying, and I definitely agree about actually going ourselves and helping people. I didn’t mean it as an either/or. You have a good point about effectiveness. I agree that working through the political arena is not the most effective way for people to come to salvation in Christ. I can’t think of any history that would back that up. I guess though that in changing hearts on a broad enough scale at least on an issue, that could be achieved through the process of campaigning politically with the media covering the issue (I guess that doesn’t always turn out well) so people learn and think and respond. For deeper change in people’s hearts, God definitely seems to work through more personal acts, but as a means of demanding justice, I just would not rule out politics completely.
I believe quite firmly that there are underlying political problems which are causing these unnecessary griefs amung human beings, and the people who you help give shelter to are no exception. Where I live, the government is taking over the duties typically assigned to the church, only with colossal expenses and terrible consequences. Since the roles of volunteers has been taken over by paid “trained” personnel, it is suddenly in the interest of the caregivers to create more havoc and create more jobs to secure their own employment. The church must fight back even in cases like these, we are the most influential group of individuals in the world when we mobilize. That is why it breaks my heart when I’m being held back by a lack of support from my church and from our lack of adequate representation, because the church exercises restraint in taking political action.
Are we too heavily scrutinized? Are we in Jeopardy of losing our charitable status? By not being labelled as a minority, are we afraid to stand up when a minority rises because of satan’s interference in the workings of society? How did we end up putting our faith in these boxes and instead find ourselves withholding it from running our democratic countries? (I am referring to Canada and the US). I believe it is because we have made a habit of taking the easy way out, made even easier by the deregulation of multinational corporations allowable influence on the public. “Staying inside our comfort zone” is an even more fitting way to put it.
I bring this up because a sermon comes to mind, where a pastor was content his paper was given a failing grade at university because it expressed the need for God in our world. He was content because he knew around the world and in the Bible, people are dying and suffering to pursue the cause of Biblical justice and the spread of the gospel. Our fears and lack of action are unwarranted, and pathetic.
The engagement in politics is our God given mandate to prevent the spread of evil. Democracy is a system which is dependent on input, and proactive participation. To decline the responsibility for Christians to do the hard thing and participate in the political realm is to open the floodgates of secular society to satan. He is always giving as much input as he can possibly squeeze in, and God is looking to his people to close him out. Evidence of the evil one’s works are everywhere, as you know very well. An unexpected example could be found by looking around the internet for “Big Sugar” and “Slavery”. What kind of Christians are we, to live off of exploits and to leave the handling of our fellow helpless human beings to a falling secular society? Perhaps Jesus would have harsh words for us, just as he did for the religious leaders of his day.
The whole notion that politics and Christianity are separate is new, and frankly absurd. God wants us to lead the charge away from sin. We are not to leave that task to God, God has demanded we take the action, and has promised to support us however he sees fit in his infinite wisdom. You asked for Biblical references to God using politics, and here they are. Moses, King David, and King Salomon. There are many more, and notice a trend: These religious leaders are also political leaders. Just as Martin Luther King was a religious leader, and a political leader.
Should we chose to not stand our ground, I expect to be trampled upon in our sleep as “politically correct” sweeps common sense into the dustbin. Fantastic Christian lobbyists such as Ian Benson have left our continent to fight the good fight elsewhere, where they feel a victory is within their grasp. Are we really going to ignore the workings of society, in the name of pursuing hearts? I’m sorry, but I see a contradiction.
Speaking of Ian Benson, it is in the interest of our upper “1%” to plague the media with gay activism and pot activism to name a few, since it helps cloud reality and sickening underlying problems which they profiteer from.
A good article for those who love disciplined thinking and theology. It’s lengthy but not laborious, stimulating both mind and spirit.
“God doesn’t call us to live safe lives, make money, marry, have kids,
and repeat the process. He calls us to live completely surrendered to
Him: to sell everything we have and follow Him, to abandon ourselves and
the regular pattern of human lives and throw ourselves at His mercy
through a life of faith.”
Thank you for writing this, Christopher. It definitely made me think through this issue more.
Politics can not be avoided. No matter what you do it will have an impact on your life. Charles Krauthammer says he tried to avoid writing about politics in his book, “Things that Matter” but found it impossible to do so. If you ignore politics it will always come back to bite you.
“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” ~Reagan.
There is definitely a foundational cause/root that must be addressed rather than fixing symptoms. This is a personal contention of mine with various organizations and things I am involved with.
I wish you would have addressed believers who are called into the public realm. I have so many questions to ask you after reading this:
Should our Christian Founders not have spent their time in establishing policy and government; or fighting for our right to freedom and independence?
Do you doubt that their path and passion and duty was Providential?
What about Christian activists, lobbyists, and politicians today? Should they not do what they are doing? Or are you simply arguing that we need to have our main focus on the hearts (“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…”) and “everything else will be added to [us]”?
Are we to aim for “martyrdom”? (John Stonestreet and Os Guinness discussed this on “Breakpoint” yesterday.)
The bummer to me personally with various Christians who have been critical of my calling is the assumption that my pursuits are not God’s will for me. I find it quite audacious. I admit that there are certainly times when involvement in politics/policy becomes unbalanced. It is a cycle for me personally to be overly immersed and
I have to pull back and balance. I had hoped early on that this would be a one-time regrouping effort in my heart and mind but I find that it cycles and has to be constantly called into check.
Thank you for your perspective. I deeply appreciate your heart for the lost and for eternity.
Jesus may not have been involved with politics, but many of his prophets were. How would we spread the gospel if we didn’t ensure religious freedom through our governments? Our Founding Fathers were God fearing men. Thank goodness they got involved in politics!
Christianity is growing incredibly rapidly in countries like China and Vietnam. The Gospel sure isn’t being spread any less because of their lack of religious freedom. Sure, religious freedom is nice and it’s comfortable. But you’re woefully underestimating the power of Christ if you think religious freedom is necessary for His Truth to spread.
I think religious freedom provides more opportunity for Christians to be the most effective. However, it seems that because of apathy, all that opportunity is being lost. While in the persecuted countries, the Christians are forced outside of the comfort zone anyway, so they tend to be more “aggressive” in following Jesus’s Great Commission.
I think we need to take advantage of this freedom while we have it.
How about you guys?
Could you look at Paul’s continual speaking to the religious and roman leaders of his day as political involment? Going to Rome may be compared to something like the Supreme Court or D.C.
It is quite timely that I began reading Matthew recently. Matthew chapter five, verse six: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” The motivating themes continue, and what you are writing has been troubling me since it seems you are attempting to use our faith as an excuse to become naive. People are in positions of power that change people’s knowledge sets, beliefs, and motivations. We must be among those people if we want to pursue righteousness in our countries.
When Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States, a multitude of advertising restrictions were lifted. This has allowed corporations to gain unprecedented control of our pop culture, which has shifted what is “politically correct” to now include horrible things to now be considered acceptable by the masses. Would you like some examples which span well past our boarders?
Thanks for your response.
You are assuming a lot to say that I am promoting naivety.
I don’t think politics is the only way to pursue righteousness. Righteousness comes from the heart, not from laws or rules. The fruit of the spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). This comes from individuals being willingly surrendered to Christ and walking in the Spirit.
The most intense Spiritual warfare is in our everyday lives. It’s in the small choices to be honest, pure, loving and kind (et cetera) in our everyday lives. From there it grows and grows until it affects whole nations. A nation is righteous not because of it’s laws, but because the hearts of the people are open, surrendered and obedient to God.
God can use politicians, I believe, but controlling the politics of nations is not our goal. We are called, by Jesus, to make disciples–which happens in living rooms, not court rooms.
I agree, Chris. My brother has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, so I get an earful of political conversation. lol. And, my father also ran for political office.
Manipulation and playing on people’s feelings seems to be the way politics goes these days. And the people without Christ are even more easily swayed sometimes, because they don’t have the guidance if the Holy Spirit.
As for standing up for our rights, I think we have to pray and ask if this is a “Don’t bow down to the golden statue of Babylon” moment (like in Daniel), or if this is a “Give to Ceaser’s what is Ceaser’s” moment.
Jesus knew that Ceaser wasn’t a good guy and was against God, and paying taxes funded him, but sometimes, we just need to suck it up because that’s not what is most important to take our engery and time. We must choose our battlefield.
Like in the Bible, when Paul was writing to Philemon and said to welcome Onesimus back, he was choosing to address forgiveness. Notice how he wasn’t choosing to fight on the issue of slavery?
It’s the same with us. We must choose the battles that are most worth our time and energy, not to mention our areas of experience and expertise.
You know, something I find interesting is that Christians are more active and bold in nations that Christians are pursicuted. And we are more passive in nations like the U.S.
I’ve heard the former pastor of my old church say something like this:
When Christians were publicly put to death for their faith in Roman times, Christianity grew like wildfire, but when Constanteen (I believe that’s how you spell his name) made it legal to be a Christian, then Christians got more passive.
Also, a friend of mine from Romania said something like this, “Pursicuted Christians, in countries that are against Christ, are praying that Christians in America will be pursicuted so that we will be bolder in our faith”.
I am proud to be American and have all the freedom I have, but why should God bless America if the Christians in it aren’t pursuing souls as passionately as the Christians who are pursicuted for their faith? I pray for revival for our country, but it must start with Christians.
Good thoughts, Trent! Thanks for sharing!
Chris, I’m sorry but you fundamentally do not understand what the American dream is. The American dream is not the pursuit of money, wealth, prosperity and success. It is the “pursuit of happiness”, which in essence is the freedom for each man to live their life as they choose. Today, many see that dream as running after wealth, but for the Christian, the American dream is the ability to live a life fully dedicated to God. An American Christian need not worryingly wring their hands feeling that working toward American ideals is in conflict with their faith. Rather, working within the political system to ensure the American dream is to work to ensure freedom for all people – a good and necessary goal to further the Gospel.
Dear Chris, at your tender age you have a fundamental understanding of much more than most people ever will. If we aspire to ensure freedom for all to enjoy happiness by doing as they please, then we must advocate for gay marriage and any other thing which brings pleasure to an individual. The Almighty does not accept the compromising of truth or principle, but politics is the art of compromise. When good is blended inextricably with evil, the whole enterprise is evil.
Christians who believe that their purpose on earth is to save the world through participation in Satan’s political government are unwittingly fighting against God as they attempt to preserve what he has vowed to destroy. Christians should understand that the great, final, social solution will be the mark of the beast —–the product of all this political activity.
Your article was excellent. Keep on “contending for the faith once delivered to the saints.”
This is one of the better articles I have ever read.