Sunday, 10 March 2019

Do We Need a New Christian Worldview on Politics?

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." ~Groucho Marx

I have a confession to make: I’ve been robbed … repeatedly. No, I didn’t go to the police and report it. Quite frankly, I doubt they could do anything about it, or even prevent it from happening yet again.

Just what was stolen? I’m glad you asked.

My peace was stolen … again and again.

There are a lot of things that can rob us of our peace, but one of the triggers for me personally is political rants, discussions and memes. I find myself easily angered over what we armchair politicians perceive to be injustices and stupidity by politicians and their ilk, who by obvious virtue of their disagreement with our own political savvy, are equally moronic. How easy it is to relish time in the cesspools of their faux pas! Yes, I am being a little facetious! 

Have you ever noticed that? Perhaps you wrestle with the same demons. As Christians, what do we do about it? Why do we allow ourselves to get so embroiled with the secular world and their choice of kings? Why do we allow our peace to be so absconded with by those who don’t know Jesus? Do we need a new Christian worldview regarding politics? Hmm, sometimes I think so.

Growing up in the 1960’s and the early 1970’s, I was fortunate to have been able to do a significant amount of international traveling with my family. Some of the countries we visited were politically similar to our homeland, whereas others were vastly different, as when we crossed the infamous Berlin wall, several years before the collapse of communist East Germany. Why do I mention this? I do so to illustrate that we were travelers, aliens if you will, in a land not our own. As such we had no real voice in the political arenas of those countries, not that we wanted it in the first place, nor did we get ourselves too bogged down in the mire of those systems. Fact was, we had no vote or voice in the affairs of the land, and our time there was limited. Soon we would be home again with little more than memories of some wonderful times, regardless of the politics of those areas.

I think therein is a clue for a new Christian worldview of politics, and by default, peace. Peter speaks of the church, of God’s elect, as “strangers in the world” (1 Peter 1:1), and again as “aliens and strangers in the world” (1 Peter 2:11). Is that still true today? Are Christians still “aliens” in a world really not their own? Are we just traveling through, “sojourners” to coin an old word, in earthly lands that ultimately we are not citizens in, much like my family’s international treks of many years ago? Or have Christians so bought into the secular world’s political mantras, that to listen to them carry on, you’d have to wonder where their allegiance really lies?  When Paul says, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20), that’s not just in some future tense; it is equally true of today.

Let’s take this a step further. As Christians, if our allegiance lies with King Jesus, the one who said that he’s going to prepare a place for us and then come and take us to our true home to be with him (John 14: 2-3), then isn’t it fair to say that allegiance to worldly kings (political systems) is paramount to polytheism? Maybe that’s a little extreme, but extremeness is a great illustrator. The way my own personal peace has often been stolen from me when I allow myself to get wrapped up in the political debates around me, almost begs the question as to whether or not I’ve been worshiping at some foreign god’s altar. If so, then as a Christian, as a citizen of Heaven, it’s little wonder there’s no internal peace. The god (master) of politics is money, and Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24). In other words, try to serve two masters, and it will cost you your personal peace. Besides, it’s tough to reconcile an angry spirit, regardless if the trigger is political or something else, with the love and forgiveness the Christian is called to in Christ Jesus.

So where does all this leave you and me today? I think it forces us into a decision, perhaps not too dissimilar to the choice Joshua placed on the Israelites of old when he said, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Choose your citizenship and focus your efforts in that kingdom. What it doesn’t mean is that we have license to somehow become so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. Being a part of the kingdom of Heaven means that we do have responsibilities to our neighbors and community. We do have a responsibility to feed and clothe the hungry and the poor, to visit the sick and imprisoned, for in doing so, Jesus says that we are really doing so for him. Conversely, failing to do so is failing to do so for him, and brings with it a curse and eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). This has nothing to do with earthly politics, but has everything to do with being a true citizen of Heaven.

Having said all that, there is one area that Christians are to be politically minded; we are called to pray for our leaders. Paul said, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2: 1-2). Jesus took it one step further when he called us to pray even for our enemies and those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Have you ever tried praying for a political leader, and especially one that you don’t agree with? Though I have prayed for them from time to time, I confess that I haven’t done so regularly enough. It’s not easy. How about praying for an enemy? Tough, isn’t it? However, if there is one thing that I’m certain of it is this: The more you pray for someone, even enemies, the easier it is and the less likely that they remain your enemy. 

Maybe you agree with my take on this, and maybe you disagree; I’m not here to argue the point or to try and sway you over. This is just my humble musing that I’ve been wrestling with for some time. In my quest for increased personal peace, I am choosing to stay quiet with my political opinions and views, and deliberately scroll past all such posts on social media. I deliberately choose to lean more towards being uninformed, if necessary, on the political scene as opposed to wrapped up in its idiocies. I may or may not choose to vote when an election is called. I am, after all, a stranger and an alien here; here for only a short time, and am looking forward to my Heavenly home, where my true citizenship lies. Maybe I’ll arrive there today, maybe tomorrow; perhaps next month. As such in my pilgrimage through this life, I choose not to waste energies chasing after the wind of earthly kings and their political agendas. I cannot help but believe that doing so could lead to missing the boat of focusing on what my King Jesus wants of me today, and that is to be concerned with the things he’s concerned with, which is usually vastly different than what the political systems of our world are focused on.

The bottom line is that, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son …” (John 3:16). He did so for Liberals and Conservatives; he did so for Democrats and Republicans. He did so for Communists and Atheists and whatever other “ists” there may be. He did so for the politically minded and the non-politically minded. Dare we fight and condemn and belittle and curse those for whom Christ also died – Christian or not – simply because they think differently than you and me? Utopian? Maybe, but I think it behooves us to at very least pause and think more carefully on these things. Selah.

Peace and blessings to you and yours. 😊

"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." (Jesus; Mt.22:21)

POSTSCRIPT: Like most blog posts, there is so much more that can be said about the subject, and so many more Scriptures that we could look at. Perhaps there will be a sequel post or two to this subject. Are there counter arguments? No doubt there are. Still, as already mentioned, this is just my own humble musing.

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