Let’s Imagine Christianity Without Politics

Let’s Imagine Christianity Without Politics January 30, 2019

 

A few days ago I received an email from a friend of mine. He was sharing with me his frustration over the apparent blindness that many Christians seem to have when it comes to following Jesus.

His experience was that every time he attempted to talk about doing what Jesus commanded us to do – like loving our enemies, turning the other cheek, caring for the poor, etc. – the responses he kept receiving were comments like, “But the Founding Fathers say…”, or “The Constitution says..”, or “Common sense tells you…”,  and so on.

This isn’t something new to me. I’ve had – and continue to have – similar conversations with Christians on almost a daily basis.

So, what’s going on here? Why is this such an ongoing problem in the American Church today? What can we do about it?

I have a few ideas.

What’s going on?

Most Christians simply do not understand the Gospel, plain and simple. I know this because – only about 10 years ago – I was also unaware of what the actual Gospel was all about. Keep in mind, I was also a licensed and ordained Southern Baptist pastor at that time.

See, I used to believe that the Gospel was about saying a prayer so that I could go to heaven when I die.

But that’s not the Gospel.

The Gospel – or the “Good News” – that Jesus came and died to proclaim is found (curiously enough) in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Here’s what the “Good News” (or the Gospel) is according to the NT:

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom..” (Mat. 4:23)

“Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mar. 1:14-15)

“But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” (Luk. 4:43)

Wait a minute, what does this have to do with why Christians confuse America with the Kingdom of God?

Good question!

See, because Christians have confused the Gospel with saying a prayer so you can go to heaven, they’ve neglected to see the Gospel as something that is for here and now. That has led us to a Christianity that is largely about something that only starts to kick in once we’re dead – rather than a Gospel that’s about a way of life that starts once you decide to follow Jesus.

It’s also a problem because Christians today largely do not see their faith as something to be lived out. Instead, they see their faith as something that needs to be believed.

Once you reduce the Gospel as something that only needs to be believed – and not obeyed – then you can simply read the words of Jesus and say, “I believe that!” and think that you’ve done all that Jesus asks of you.

Of course, if we think a little longer about that we’ll see that this makes no sense – and that it’s not at all what Jesus says.

If your parents told you to clean your room and your response was, “I believe that!”, do you think you’d be an obedient child?

Obviously, Jesus gave very specific commands to his disciples (that’s what the NT calls “Christians”) and his constant refrain was that those who love Him obey Him, and those who do not love Him do not obey. (See John 14: 15-24)

What we have today in America is a Christian Church that is filled with people who have “prayed the prayer” and “believe the Gospel” but they do not see the words of Jesus as being for them today, nor do they understand that the Gospel is about submitting to the Kingship of Jesus in their actual, daily life.

How do I know this? Because on almost a daily basis I encounter Christians who respond to the clear commands of Jesus with a long list of “Yeah, but…” statements.

Another serious problem we have is that Christians in America have confused their faith with American Christianity. In other words, to be a good Christians means being a good American. More specifically, in my experience at least, being a good Christian means being a conservative Republican.

In essence, many Christians in America can’t untangle Jesus from their politics.

I sometimes try to help those people think differently by saying: “Imagine that someone in North Korea or Communist China hears the Gospel and repents and begins to genuinely follow Jesus. Are they now also a Republican?”

See, the fact is that most of the Christians on this planet are not American, or Republican. In fact, most of them aren’t even Capitalists.

I would take this even further by suggesting that no Christian should ever identify as a Capitalist, or a Socialist, or as a Republican or a Democrat, or as an American or any other nationality.

According to the Gospel, everyone in Christ is now a new creation. The old has gone and the new is now here. That means, in the Church, there is now no longer any Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male nor female, etc. but we are all one in Christ Jesus. [It’s in the NT, trust me].

Jesus is our life. Jesus is our king. His Kingdom is now our home. We pledge allegiance to no one else – and to no other nation – except for Jesus and His Kingdom.

This nation – the United States of America – will soon pass away. In fact, it MUST pass away in order for the eternal Kingdom of Jesus to be fully established here on earth – so must every other nation and government, and every political ideology and man-made philosophy. [And why would we want to put our energies into propping up a nation or a political system that is destined for the ash can when we could be working towards advancing the Kingdom of God?]

If we really believe these things, then it’s time to start living all of that out.

Jesus is Lord. He is Lord right now. He is my Lord. His commands are binding on me because I am already a citizen of His eternal Kingdom. It doesn’t matter what the Constitution says. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega. Everyone else is only a pretender to the throne.

So, let’s swear allegiance to Jesus and commit ourselves to Him and His Kingdom and begin to put His words into practice starting today.

Or, as Jesus phrased it: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, lord’ and do not do what I say?” – Jesus

-kg

If you want to read more about this topic, I cover it in my book “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance to The Lamb“, available now on Kindle, Audiobook and Print.

**

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. 

BONUS: Want to unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more? Visit my Patreon page.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Robert Conner

    When, in the last nineteen centuries, was Christianity apolitical?

    http://new.exchristian.net/2019/01/the-second-cyrus-and-his-court-eunuchs.html

  • Iain Lovejoy

    The title of this blog is a bit misleading, since it seems to be a clarion call to make Christianity political, rather than (which the article suggests at least conservative Christians are doing) reducing Christianity to a combination of afterlife insurance and tribal marker and pursuing a politics not informed by actual Christian teachings at all.

  • Patrick

    Matthew 28:16-20 New International Version (NIV)
    16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    I think that verse 20 is quite telling in that Jesus is directing the apostles to teach new disciples “everything I have commanded you”. This immediately turns me in the direction of wanting to learn all that he commanded them. And the first thing that comes to mind is this;
    Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV) 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Then this; John 13:34-35 New International Version (NIV)
    34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    Jesus clearly placed the highest priority on this. Hopefully, all that we do and say is centered and anchored in his command to love one another.

  • swbarnes2

    A religion that actively disdains power isn’t going to get any. The odds of you being born into what would have been a pretty small cult of lovie-dovey hippies is quite small, your odds of converting from whatever you would have been born into into that would also be small.

    And even “love everyone” isn’t as easy as you think. What is the Christian consensus on the proper loving response when your child comes out as gay or trans?

  • Patrick

    No argument here in regards to a religion that disdains power not getting power. My personal view is that the kind of power about which Jesus spoke and taught has been bastardized into earthly power, the kind he warned against. And no argument again that loving everyone is not so easy. In fact I think it is quite difficult in many cases. Finally, I cannot tell what the Christian consensus is on the loving response when your child comes out as gay or trans. I know my response is to love them, never reject or shun them, listen to them and let them know that I will always be there for them. Of course, not ever having been faced with a child coming out as gay or trans, this is only my desired response.