Monday, July 24, 2006

The Meek Politician - The Christian in Politics Pt 1

The church in America, I believe, is in crisis. The last twenty years of seeker sensitive tactics for evangelism and similar church service methods has only exasperated the already apparent shallowness and superficial spiritual life of the American Christian. One area where the lack of spiritual wisdom and shallow discipleship has expressed itself much to the detriment of the church’s witness is the realm of politics. I have made the decision to be a contributor to RedBlueChristian in an attempt to surface the relationship between a lack of discipleship under the teachings of Jesus and how this has expressed itself in the political theatre.

A key or possibly the key text regarding the effectiveness of the witness of the church to the reality that Jesus is the promised Messiah is Matt 5:13-16:
13"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

Jesus administers His Lordship over our lives through His teachings, and it is our incarnational application of these teachings in every area of our life that defines our “saltiness”. The Moral Attributes of God are revealed to those around us as we follow Jesus’ teachings in the power of the Holy Spirit. As we love and forgive in every area of our life, we are, in that moment, distinct from the world. We live by kingdom principles and not the principles of the world. If, through our ignorance, we play by the world’s rules and our character is not distinct, our interaction with the world will actually harm the cause of Christ.

Of all the virtues of Christ, none is so distinct and beautiful as His meekness. Jesus taught us that the wise and blessed man is the one who is meek and that it is the meek that shall, through faith and suffering, inherit the earth. The Christian is a person who is both filled with the life of Christ and under the Lordship of the mind of Christ. Such a person has the unique wisdom of both knowing and understanding the ways of Christ. Meekness is central to this morally distinct way. The Christian, to bear witness to the power of the Gospel in all his affairs, must make it his or her ambition to be meek.

The Question We Must Ask Ourselves
Is meekness a virtue that is seen in the Christian community’s political life? If we as a community are not generally meek in this arena of life, then, can we confess that Jesus is the Lord of all our life? If this is not our confession, we must change our approach to how we bear witness to the Gospel in the arena of politics. It is precisely our meek approach to life and our loving approach to all our adversaries that we, as Christians, are mandated to bring to the political process of our nation. To answer the question, “Are we meek in this area of life?”, we first must define meekness.

Meekness is the acceptance that in all our labors for righteousness God is in control of the results and that we need not be disturbed by the outcomes which God chooses to ordain. The meek boldly proclaim the truth and their positions, but they proclaim it without being disturbed by their adversaries. The foundation of our meekness is our knowledge that we are seen by our God and that He is able to act to vindicate His justice whenever He pleases. The meek never resort to any compromise of their integrity nor do they waver in their love for their adversaries. In short, the meek labor for righteousness, but they do not stoop to “fighting”. As followers of Jesus on the road of meekness, we maintain, like Steven, the face of an angel because, in our hearts, we behold the Lord seated at the right hand of God. Jesus was the meekest man ever to live, for, while He spoke the truth with boldness, He simultaneously did not defend Himself. Before His adversaries, He was like a lamb led to the slaughter. We are to be like our Lord in the arena of politics.

For the sake of brevity, I will limit my use of examples to but one.

The meek do not take matters into their own hands. The meek do not devise ways to obtain or maintain power which are less than honorable. In other words, the meek do not participate in gerrymandering. But, the Christian politician of our day responds, “that is politics, and, well, gerrymandering is allowed under the law”. “Gerrymandering is the prerogative of the ruling party, and, anyway, if we don’t do it ‘they’ will.”

It is precisely here that our Christian principles enter into the Christian’s politics. Meekness and love for that matter are only tested when we and our dreams and agendas have something to lose. Gerrymandering is a subtle and maybe sometimes not so subtle abuse of power. The Christian’s political behavior must be antithetical to abuse of power. Gerrymandering is but one example which surfaces one’s approach to politics. A Christian’s approach to politics, win or lose, is to follow our Lord in the way of meekness.

So, as citizens of another Kingdom and servants of another King, how do we live by these principles, the first being meekness? My prayer is that this discussion begins to answer these questions as another political season approaches.

May our witness be filled with grace and meekness to the Glory of God.
God Bless, brad
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