Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Is the Christian Cause Being Divided By Politics - Part 1

When I first started blogging, and as a pastor, I refused to speak on issues of politics. Recently, I have decided to begin to speak on politics not because I feel the arena of politics provides a solution to any essential problem facing our society or the church but because I am convinced that politics is not the place for Christians to attempt to reform society.
The twentieth century has taught us a few key lessons. The first is that the state is not the solution and that those who seek to use the state to better society on the left or the right cause great harm. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve the cause of the gospel and seek to simultaneously legislate, using carnal power, Christian virtue.
The family will not be served by legislation. Marriage will not be saved by laws. Such a faith in the power of legislation and laws to make or save society is in direct opposition to the our glorious Faith in the power of the Gospel of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
But recently just such a effort has been made in the name of Christ to better society or save institutions like the family through the state. Christians have been rallied to hold certain political positions as their Christian duty. Such efforts serve only to encumber the gospel with politics and to divert the Christian from his or her true duty to make disciples of our neighbors.
Many Christian walk their precincts for political candidates but few walk their neighborhoods for their Lord. This method is anathema to our mission as Christians. Many of us use the excuse that because we are not pastors or officials of the church that our “gifting” or life mission might be in the realm of politics. This is a subtle lie that can lead to great harm. It is a great danger when we attempt to live out our Christian mission, to bring the kingdom of God to people, through politics. Our hearts long for solution to the real problems of our nation and to look to politics to bring such solutions to what is ultimately a kingdom endeavor is dangerous even when pursued slightly.
The Real Problem
The real problem that Christians rightly agree upon is that our society is filled with unrighteousness and ungodliness. As Christians, we are grieved by the selfishness, the idolatry of celebrity, the greed, the violence and the sexual promiscuity all around us. We see before us the loss of our religious and in some instances Godly heritage that was the moral cohesiveness that held our society together and made our nation prosper. As Christians, we can be in unity as to the problem. The foundational moral values of our society are deteriorating. Let’s agree on this as the problem that we all get passionate about in one way or another. God is grieved and so, as worshippers, are we. The question that confronts us is not what is the problem but what is the solution
Law or Gospel
The gospel is the faith that by grace alone through faith alone is any spiritual good accomplished. Jesus Christ is the Lord of all areas of life and a people’s sexuality, their tongues, their emotions, their thought life, and their economics are all sanctified by grace through faith. If we instead seek to save the sexuality of our nation through law, we have turned to another Gospel, which is not a gospel at all. Do not be deceived. Look at the world around you. Be grieved by all you see and say to yourself, I will trust in the Lord. I will not turn to the carnal means of law to replace my own disobedience with respect to placing my faith in the gospel and acting upon this faith. I will trust in the work of the Holy Spirit to bring the Lordship of Jesus Christ to the hearts of people. Some trust in horses and some trust in chariots, but we will trust in the name of the Lord. Political power is not our savior nor the savior of our nation.
There is only one reason our nation is deteriorating and that is because of the lack of obedience of the church to fulfill its mission to make disciples in the name of the Lord, to baptize them and to teach them everything Jesus Christ taught His disciples. Law cannot accomplish righteousness nor can anything beautiful come from law. Those who seek to divert the church from our true duty and turn our attention toward legislation must be opposed. This is not a both/and alternative. Some have said to the church, “This legislation is vital to the survival of such and such institution. Call your congressman”. I stand to differ. In the name of the Lord, I stand to differ. Your congressman cannot legislate our vision of a more religious and more Godly nation.
This does not mean that there is not a limited role for government. Government exists to protect the rights of all to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Government is instituted to punish those who threaten the safety and freedom of the citizens. Government exists to protect the rights of minorities who might encounter a loss of freedom due to some arbitrary characteristic like skin color or religious creed. We as Christians support freedom for all. But we must not turn our grief over the sinfulness of our society to legislate how individuals pursue their happiness. It is the gospel that we use to build righteousness in the actual arenas of life.
I have avoided speaking on politics because I ardently believe that politics is a false hope and a false gospel. But now as our society becomes polarized over the role of religion in politics it is time for those who put their faith in the Lord to side with grace over law, the gospel over politics, and the church as the means of social transformation and not the state.
May this message free us from the temptation to attempt through law to legislate our passions for a city set on a hill. May we instead turn to the gospel and fulfill our true Christian duty to use the foolishness of the Gospel preached to save both our neighbor and our nation.
God Bless, brad

No comments: