Denise M. Kohlmeyer
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Someone who closely followed Jesus' apolitical example was the great Apostle Paul. Interestingly, whenever this zealous, outspoken Christ-follower had a hearing before a powerful leader (like Festus or Agrippa, and had he had the chance, before Caesar in Rome), he could have easily addressed the issues of his day: slavery, temple prostitution, religious tolerance (yes, Rome practiced syncretism too), over-taxation, and many others. Rather, Paul used these opportunities, not to change their policies or their minds — but their hearts! Politics for Paul was a platform for which to preach the gospel. Nothing else!
While Fox News' Political Commentator Bill O'Reilly agrees with me, I realize that there are those who take a different view. Rev. Dr. Eric D. Barreto being one of them. In his Huffington Post article "Was Jesus Political? Undoubtedly," he writes:
His preaching was tinged with political statements. His healings carried massive political implications for the ways we structure our world and understand our neighbor. His execution was the kind reserved for acts of political disruption. That is, he died on a cross because the political authorities of his day saw him as a threat to the political structures and order of his day.I'm not sure which "preachings" or "healings" Mr. Barreto is referring to that carry political implications, so I cannot address those. I do agree, however, that Jesus was a threat to the Roman authorities and that they used their most heinous form of execution at that time (only to make a point lest others get any ideas). But Jesus' threat was 1) clearly misunderstood and thus created untoward fear and overreaction by government authorities, and was 2) merely a byproduct of His true mission.
Jesus did not set out to be a threat to the Roman authorities, only to the religious leaders who were leading His precious people astray and down the road to eternal ruin.
All that being said, what then should be our attitude and actions toward politics and politicians today? Biblically speaking, respect for their office and civil obedience — unless it conflicts with God's Word (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:13-17).
Is it wrong to work towards making changes in our government, to work towards righting the injustices of this world (i.e. human trafficking, terror attacks on the innocent, abortion)? Absolutely not! Think of William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others — all great people who effected great changes in the political arena. But keep in mind that even though changes were achieved, sin and spiritual separation from God still affected the hearts of those freed politically.
Dear friends, we need to keep politics in their right perspective, but keep evangelism and the Gospel at the forefront of our minds and our hearts, like Jesus; using politics only as a platform to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ, which saves souls, like Paul.
A good litmus test would be to ask yourselves several questions:
1. Has working towards political change or on a pet cause been substituted for or distracted me from fulfilling the Great Commission? 2. Am I more concerned with politics or a political issue/agenda than I am for the souls of the unsaved?One more thing, if you'll allow me. I wonder — just wonder — if all this obsession with politics and politicians just might be a scheme of Satan's to turn our hearts away from trusting our sovereign God in these politically-charged and chaotic times and from fulfilling Jesus' discipleship directive of "making disciples"? If we are focused more on politics, politicians and the issues of our day, then Satan has succeeded at distracting God's children by keeping us from fulfilling our true missional calling. But, ultimately, pleasing Him and bringing the glory that He's due.
3. Am I trying to win over politicians and their votes for my pet cause or my particular political party rather than winning souls for Christ?
4. What is my motivation behind my political involvement: self or Christ?
5. Are my conversations filled more with what politicians are (or aren't) doing and accomplishing, or with what Jesus has already done and accomplished on our behalf?
Food for thought.
Thoughts to pray about.
Prayers to act upon accordingly.
Image Credit: Linda Thomas-Fowler; "Peace Rally"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Controversial-Issues | Current-Issues | Jesus-Christ | Political-Issues
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