A few days ago I received the above article from a dear friend of mine. He was not trying to make a point by sending it but, rather, was expressing his own frustration with what's happening among professing evangelicals in our politically-charged nation.
Here are a few of my thoughts...
- I agree that in many circles Christianity has been over-politicized. The unfortunate result of this is that some well-meaning believers have made foolish comments and are placing too much hope in things/people other than Jesus. They say and do things that do not align with the teachings and lifestyle of Christ. This truly saddens my heart as it makes Christianity seem highly political and irrelevant.
- I do not agree that this is the case for all of evangelicalism. To state such is equally foolish. It doesn't take long for one to look around the world and see how evangelicals have dynamically impacted the world in 2017. Churches have been planted. The Bible has been translated into new languages for the first time this year. The poor have been well cared for. Christians have been sent out and persecuted around the world. All under the authority of Jesus (as evangelicals). In fact, the church in Thailand, where I once was pastor, just reported over 100 conversions in the month of December alone. Wow! "Rough year for evangelicals"? Maybe inside the political bubble. But as a blanket statement? Absolutely not.
- We, as Christians, must guard our hearts and minds when it comes to the political hotness of this D.C. area. Our response must not be accusing, angry or cynical. Otherwise we become self-righteous in our own judgements and condemnation of others. Jesus warns us in Matthew 7:;2, "For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you." Let's make sure our own judgements, regardless of what others are saying and doing, are filled with grace and mercy.
- Our hopes and future are not in politics or political leaders - good or bad. Jesus tells us we are to "give to Caesar what is his and to God what is His" (amazing, because Caesar was not a Jew-friendly guy). We are also urged by the Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 2:1-2) that "prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people--for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." This is not easy, especially when one does not agree with the leader's lifestyle, leadership and/or political positions. But those things take a back seat to our greater calling in Christ. Jesus honored Caesar. Peter instructed Christians to do the same under the Roman tyranny. And Paul urged Timothy (a Jew under political oppression) likewise.
- From the dawn of Christianity, some folks in the church have simply not gotten it. In Acts 20:30-31 Paul warns the Ephesian church, "From among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for 3 years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears."
- There is a real enemy, Satan, who wants to defame and discredit the name of Jesus Christ. He also hates the followers of Jesus and will go to any length to weaken their testimony and the witness of His Church. Our battle is against him alone, and not people (Ephesians 6:12). Our weapons, therefore, are not forged with the strong hand or the sharp tongue, but with the sword of the Spirit, God's Word, and prayer in the Spirit. Only these have the "divine power to destroy strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4).
In the midst of sharp division, where lines are drawn and the divide is widening, Christians do have a place. It's the same place where Aaron, the priest, stood when the wrath of God was being poured out on a grumbling and disobedient nation and thousands were dying. Numbers 16:47-48 tells us that Aaron ran and took incense from the altar and made atonement for the people, then he went and "stood between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped." Between. Church, we are to run to the altar, grab hold of the atonement (1 John 2:2) and stand in the neutral middle as peacemakers (2 Corinthians 5:18). This doesn't mean we can't have a political opinion because we certainly can. It does mean, however, that our opinion does not divide nor does it supersede our representation of Christ in this world. We are to be like the angel when asked by Joshua (5:13-14), 'Are you for us or them?' His response: "No. I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come." As I've heard so beautifully said before, Jesus didn't come to take sides... He came to take over. Sisters and brothers, the overflow of our lives in Christ should be a cool drink for a politically hot nation.