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Church and Politics

As a follower of Christ, I strive to follow the teaching of Jesus praying that His will and not mine be done. There is no room for compromise or negotiation. Politics on the other hand is all about negotiating the best possible deal and usually means that trade offs and negotiating have led to a fair agreement where no one is completely satisfied. Can Christians trade some moral issues to gain other issues? When we enter politics can we accept trade-offs or ignore God’s word to make political gains? There is a very good reason why church and state should remain separate. One has nothing to do with the other. John 18:33-38 makes the following distinction between earthly and heavenly kingdoms.

So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?”Jesus answered, “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.”Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” [1]

What is truth? God’s kingdom will not be established by man. It can only be received by faith. If the church lives by God’s word without compromise and bears fruitful witness to the truth; there will be no need to negotiate for political gain. In the first century a religious political movement identified as Zealots sought to overthrow the roman government by force. Zealots reasoned that God was clear in his revelations through Moses and they had an obligation to enforce His will through violence and even murder. They were no different than Christians who stormed the Capital Building on January 6, 2021. Don’t get me wrong; if individual Christians decide to take up politics; that is commendable. If the church organizes and promotes a political party as being Christian, there is a huge problem. Can any political party fully implement Christian values? If not, then we are also promoting values that are unchristian.

Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”[2] Jesus did not intend to establish a Christian government. He will establish His kingdom on His return. We know what state the world will be in before He returns. By becoming a political movement, we allow government to influence our beliefs so as to be politically correct. It is a dangerous road to take.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 18:33–38.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mk 12:17.

Hollywood Law

Many of us are drawn to movies about law and order. We get involved as the lawyer presents the case and the accused gives a great argument as to why the law should be changed. In the movie as we cheer for the underdog, the judge agrees with the defendant and changes the law. In real life the judge would most likely say, “Though your argument is sound, and I can agree with you; I cannot change the law or judge the law. I must enforce the law as it is written. I have sworn to uphold the law”

I have a great accountability partner who reminds  me that while we may have an opinion it is only God’s position that matters. Many times, I would wish God’s position to be different; to just once listen to my view. I believe He patiently does listen and then reminds me as he did Job in chapter 40:6-14 of just who He is and who I am:

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his? “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor. Pour out the overflowing’s of your anger and look on everyone who is proud and abase him. Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand. Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below. Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you.”

Do you believe that by our own effort we can save ourselves? If that were possible, Jesus died in vain, and we have been lied to. Yet as Paul warned Timothy, we are drawn away from God’s word to follow what we want to be true. We follow our own deceitful heart and justify our desires with the same logic as a Hollywood court case. The law is the law whether or not we agree or understand it.

One of the charges at my ordination was from 2 Timothy 4:1-8 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

I would rather offend man than offend God. Anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ must uphold all His teaching or he denies it all. It is not a case of opinion as to what we believe or reject. We either believe all the law or are judged by the law. Like the Judge in court, we cannot change the law. We must apply it all.

Representing Christ

Have you ever felt uneasy when someone asks you as a Christian what your belief is when it comes to political activism? My first thought is that they really are not asking me for my opinion. As soon as the identification of Christian enters the question, they are asking what I think Christ would say. It is not a simple or comfortable position to be placed in. I have my own opinions on politics, as everyone does. These, however, do not necessarily reflect what Jesus taught.

Before I begin to answer the question; we need to frame it in the terms of democracy. We need to do this because it is the system we live under and because I believe it is the best of all flawed systems of government that man can create. Merriam Webster.com defines it as: “1a: government by the people especially: rule of the majority.: 1b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.”

The concepts of democracy and constitution as a form of government originated in ancient Athens circa 508 B.C. Although this Athenian democracy would survive for only two centuries, its invention by Cleisthenes, “The Father of Democracy,” was one of ancient Greece’s most enduring contributions to the modern world. The Greek system of direct democracy would pave the way for representative democracies across the globe. It certainly is not perfect. Plato said: “The democratic man takes great interest in all the things he can buy with his money. Plato believed that the democratic man is more concerned with his money over how he can help the people. He does whatever he wants whenever he wants to do it. His life has no order or priority.” Socrates believed that the common man was not educated in governing and therefore government worked best when ruled by individuals who had the greatest ability, knowledge and virtue, and possessed a complete understanding of themselves.

They rightly identify real concerns and pitfalls in the democratic system. It raises the question of do we vote for the person who will create a prosperous economy or the one who best understands how to govern based on the needs of the people? What motivates our politicians to run – self interest or greater good. It gets really complicated when we ask how Christ would view our system and choices.

Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” [1] Jesus clearly draws a line between the roles of governance and Christianity. I am not saying that our faith does not influence how we vote as individuals. My objection is when we make our faith a political movement. Does God intend for us to drag our faith into the political arena? There are over 200 Christian denominations in the United States alone. We cannot even agree on what we believe. I find especially discouraging to see Christians supporting a mob movement to overthrow the results of an election that was confirmed in the courts and certified by the electoral college. To see Christians bring Christ into an armed insurrection to commit crimes against His laws and the laws of the country makes me terrified to think of what Jesus will say on the day of resurrection. Many will hear, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness[2]

Submission to Authority

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. [3]

Once you claim to be representing Christ, your opinion maters little. It is not your reputation on the line, but that of our savior Jesus.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mk 12:17.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 7:21–23.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Pe 2:13–25.

Unseen Danger

coronavirus-photo-1Today as I sit in isolation and recognise that we all face an enemy we cannot see, the effect of this enemy is evident not only in the physical sense but also in what we hold as being important. I don’t know how or when or even why toilet paper became the most sought-after commodity, but it surely says a lot about our character. Even though we have been assured there will be no shortage, there is widespread panic that as the shelves are emptied by people hording it, we will be left out. I can certainly think of things that would be more important should there be a shortage – things like common sense.

Quite a few people are worried about the economy and how much money would be worth. Many places today will not accept cash as it may be infected and so prefer plastic. Maybe paper money will become the new toilet paper. President Trump warns about the possibility of mass suicide of businessmen who are suffering as the economy tanks. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of Texas made the statement that seniors are willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the country, as though their lives meant less than the economic prosperity of others. What has happened to us as people, that profit and power has more value than life?

Wars, rebellion, terrorism, fires and earthquakes have become a footnote as news of this deadly virus infects the whole world. While we sit in our own little space, nothing is that was not before. We will come through this. We will focus on being better as a society and for a short time, much like a new year’s resolution, we will try by our own strength to live according to humanistic belief.

There is another invisible enemy only seen by the results of his devastation. Evident by greed, pride, selfishness and death – an enemy warned of for thousands of years and yet ignored by many: his strength comes through denial of his existence. At this point many of you reading this and thinking I am overreacting, much like the first announcement of the coronavirus, will ignore what follows. There is one who desires to destroy us – physically and emotionally and spiritually. His goal is to rebel against God. Ephesians 3:10 “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” That manifold wisdom refers to salvation made available to all through the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. It demonstrates to the princes and powers in heaven that God is indeed in control and the followers of Satan have lost their bid to rule.

In Luke 21:10-19 Jesus tells us what the end will look like. This and Revelation 6:1-17 give us insight as to why things are happening now. I am not being a doomsday prophet, but I believe that God’s plan is unfolding just as he said it would. I am taking seriously the great commission of Matthew 28:18-20. It is the only purpose of the church. We are to make disciples (students who copy Christ, the teacher) who observe everything that Christ has commanded. We are to baptize believers in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The church is to witness and to teach; confident in Jesus who is with us forever. Do not be fooled by following only what you choose to believe because God is the same today as he was in the beginning and always will be. The result of having knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3) is that we have taken it upon ourselves to decide what is good or not. We have, to our own detriment, judged God.

I’ll Be the Judge

Have you ever been accused of judging someone because you don’t agree with them? I believe we all have at one time or another. After all, isn’t our life determined by the choices we make, based on the judgements we decide are good? The real question is, what do we base our judgements on, and should we make it a rule that the majority is right? Of course not, because what’s right for me may not be right for you. However, the question remains; Is there a universal moral law? I mean we can all agree on certain things like slavery, murder and exploitation are wrong. Where did the idea that we each had the right to determine what is good for me or not come from?

In Genesis we read how God took the man he had created and placed him in the garden where the tree of knowledge of good and evil was planted. God warned Adam and Eve not to eat of its fruit under the warning they would die.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Gen 3:4-5

The key to justifying our judgment is found in the statement, “You will be like God, knowing good and evil.” This says that, like God, we can determine what is good or not. By this we can even question God’s wisdom and judge whether it even applies to us. We determine which sins are worse than others. Murder we say is a greater wrong than gossip, yet the Lord says all sins are equally wrong.

Based on the story in Genesis, it is easy to say God is at fault for planting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the first place. Kind of like saying, if I wasn’t tempted by the fact that the keys were left in that car, I never would have stolen it. It is the car owner’s fault for being careless. God was not tempting us to choose evil. He was giving us free will to choose between Him and our own desires.

I’m OK – You’re OK is a 1967 self-help book by Thomas Anthony Harris. The title was often quoted to say, “As long as what you do has no direct affect on me and whatever I do has no affect on you then we are okay and there is no need for judgement.” We do not live in independent universes and our choices do have an affect on others. Would you watch a friend spiral into addiction and not try to help prevent the danger that may follow? I hope you would at the very least tell them you are worried.

I may not understand all that God has decried but I trust in His wisdom. I cannot justify my sin by saying I disagree with God and I can never agree with the idea that we can declare what is good or not.

Anonymous

You Can Quote Me by Someone

When someone stands in the shadows casting stones while being protected by anonymity, they should then be considered as having no credibility. Truth stands in the light while Satan hides in the dark.

From the cover of the shadows lies are given credibility and truth becomes questioned. As no one is willing to step up and identify themselves as the someone responsible, why do we even think about what they say. Why do we judge others based on the sayings of anyone who will not put their name to the comments they make? In the meantime truth, without the benefit of being heard, is seen as a lie and a lie as truth. It is for this reason that hearsay is not acceptable in any court except the court of unfounded gossip.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

Hans Christian Andersen wrote a fairy tale titled, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” It is a story of two tailors who convince the Emperor that they can weave gold and fine silk into a magnificent fabric that is light weight and invisible to those who are incompetent, dull, or stupid.

They present the new clothes to the Emperor who decides to show off his novel threads in a parade. As he proceeds down the road with two servants holding on to the tail of his fine new cape, no one dared make a comment for fear of being seen as a fool. At the end of the parade a young boy called out, “Come see – the emperor has no clothes.”

Don’t be intimidated by what political correctness implies is right. Don’t be deceived by what others tell you is truth. Check it out for yourself. The bible has been a source of truth for thousands of years and is as valid today as ever. You need to read it for yourself without relying on others to tell you what it says. Next you need to share your thoughts with others who have read it. I pray that the Holy Spirit will shine a light on your path and guide you as you seek truth.

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

The Good Thief

The Good Thief

What motivated the thief on the cross next to Jesus to ask that he be remembered by Jesus? Was fear, a last chance insurance, the reason?

I believe that the thief had come to the point where fear was long past. As he hung on the cross there was nothing left to fear. He reviewed his life recognizing that he and the other thief were judged fairly and deserved the penalty. As he looked at Jesus, who was judged innocent by Pilate, he saw a man who was about to die without complaint. A man who was being mocked, a man who had suffered scourging, beatings and now the agony of crucifixion and yet he did not complain and even asked that those who torture him be forgiven.

The thief confessed his sin and repented and asked Christ to remember him in heaven. What this is can only be seen as repentance, acknowledgement of Christ as Lord, and public confession of his faith.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Free Will

Did God create evil? If He did, would He be a holy and perfect God? We know that evil cannot stand in the presence of God any more than darkness can exist in the light. We could describe darkness as the absence of light and in a similar manner we could call evil the absence of God.

If God did not create evil, where did it come from and why did He allow it? God permitted the rebellion of Lucifer and did not put an immediate end to it because if He had, free will would not exist. If there is no evil, then there is no choice.

Christopher Kitchen was asked if he believed in free will he answered,”Yes, I have no choice.”

A Time for Every Season

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace. [1]

 

If this is all there is to life; the best, we can do is to eat drink and be merry. However; God has placed eternity in the hearts of men. We talk about riding the streets of gold with brothers in an eternal chapter. This life after death has been made available to us through the sacrifice of God’s unique son, Jesus.

Though we talk about forever brothers, most of us have been disappointed at one time or another as we stood abandoned and alone. Christ has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. He is the faithful one even when we are not.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Ec 3:1–8.