Too Close to the Flame: Christianity and Politics

Too Close to the Flame: Christianity and Politics November 1, 2018

Did you know in Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church is in vogue again. Remember all the openness of para-church organizations and ministries 20 years ago brought about because of glasnost? Well, those days are gone as the Orthodox church and the Russian state are squeezing out these upstart evangelical movements.

According to World Magazine in an article precisely called, “One State, One Church,” Jill Nelson calls the relationship between the Orthodox and the State as “cozy.”

The report says that the church is also one of the largest landholders in the country. That prosperity keeps their mouths quiet when it comes to the Kremlin’s disappearing act of critical journalists, politicians, and lawyers.

Beside the political forays, the “church” is quite popular. Between 70 and 90% of the population identifies as church members. That is a recipe for disaster.

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Two Kingdoms. One Solution.

This illustrates the problem with the church involving itself with politics. Throughout time, whenever the church was too comfortable with the state, there tended to be problems.

As (another) election draws near, I see many religious folk on both sides of the aisle wave the flag of politics. Many believe that if their candidate gets selected or their proposition gets passed that all will be good. This is never been true in the past and it will never be true in the future.

Having a Democrat or Republican-dominant legislature at the state or national level may change a few things, but that’s not our primary calling as believers.

When the leaders asked Jesus what he thought about taxes, a totally political issue, he asked for a coin.  He turned it over between his fingers. Heads. Tails. Heads. “Who’s picture is on this?”

Might does not make right

The coin and the tax problem wasn’t his concern. And I’m sure they were always looking to draw him to any one of a hundred political squabbles. Perhaps he would take the side of the Proposition A, or support Simon Bartholemew for Senate District 22 or vote to protect the environment.

A number of Jews also hoped he would one day overthrow the Roman government and then the tyranny would be over.

But he had another Kingdom, one with roots on this earth but would that flourish and thrive on another plane. One that doesn’t need you to “win” on this earth.

I have a good friend who has an effective student ministry and deep, thoughtful writing life. But all that seems to be cast aside as he seems to have devoted himself to outing the current President’s faults, throwing a penalty flag – often – at every injustice perpetrated. I ask, “Where did your passion for eternity go?”

I have another friend, who has spent his life in winning over the lost, swaying them with clear apologetics and reason. He was all about leading men and women into their proper place in creation. But now he’s all about defending his party, with the President at the top. I ask, “Have you lost your zeal for true Kingdom?”

To my friends who are consumed by politics and the election right now, I plead with you to breathe and remember to whom you belong and your destiny.

Is the Solution Really Political?

We think that if we can just get 50.1 percent of people on our side then we will be vindicated, that we will be right.  This is the actually the law of the mob and throughout history has shown itself to create more problems than it solves.

There’s much passion on both sides. People of good faith and conviction stake out positions, often on opposite ends. That’s the nature of humankind. We’ll never really agree on anything. But something I remind my friends is that even if the election goes their way, all of their troubles won’t be solved.

Think about it. When have politics ever saved us from harm, let alone saved us from ourselves? 

For centuries, God’s faithful believers have lived through despots, knaves and fools as kings and rulers. The Church has survived tyrants, dictators and simpletons at the helm. Since we are in the world, but not of it, our purpose transcends politics.

The Gospel message is this — We are a body of believers, living in community, effecting change in the world. This mission, given to us by Christ Himself, does not depend on government or institutions.  It really doesn’t even depend on individual churches. It starts with me. It starts with you.

That’s the city on a hill we should long for. The Kingdom of God transcends any party, any platform, any body politic.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

By Marek Stukek via Unsplash

 

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