John 18:36 (NKJV)"Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight…"
There seems to be three primary views of how this verse should be applied to the subject of Christians and politics:
1. Many Christians take this verse to mean that since Christ's kingdom is "not of this world", His followers should distance themselves from the politics and social processes of this world. Like modern day Pharisees, they hide their political laziness behind claims of pious superiority. I call it "Legalistic Blindness"!
2. Even worse, some Christians divide their existence into two parts. Like modern day Gnostics, they present a pious appearance concerning the spiritual realm, but since the flesh is perishing anyway, they exploit it for their own comforts. They vote according to the condition of their pocketbook, arguing that this realm doesn't really matter anyway. I call it "Liberal Hypocrisy"!
3. Then there are those who actually find balance in life and embrace their responsibility to live well in both realms. I call it "Christian Maturity!"
Below, I would like to suggest one very important reason why Christians are not only encouraged to be involved in the political process, but condemned if they do not - The word of the Lord, Himself.
Christians are on a journey. It's a training adventure that is designed to condition us for eternity. Part of our assignment in this realm is to learn how to be responsible with little things. By so doing, we demonstrate to the Master that we can be trusted with "true riches" (Luke 16:11, NIV). Notice the words Jesus uses to describe a servant who understood this assignment and was disciplined enough to prove his trustworthiness.
Matthew 25:23 (NKJV) - "His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'"
Notice even more instruction from the Lord.
Luke 16:10-13 (NIV) - "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Everyone loves to rush to that closing thought, "You cannot serve both God and money”, but have you ever taken a close look at the context that sets up that thought! Certainly, the overriding principle of this passage is that worldly wealth must never become our purpose. Yet Christ Himself instructs us in the same context to be trustworthy with that worldly wealth. Too often, the message of this passage is only only half addressed. Yes, American Christians are materialistically gluttonous and obese. Yes, that condition is despicable and will usher many of them straight into the pit of hell. But that does not mean that worldly wealth is without value to a Christian. Notice again the words of Christ, "...if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?"
The applications to politics should be obvious.
If we cannot faithfully execute our duties as pilgrims in this world, what makes us think we are ready to take our place as citizens in His?! If we cannot be trustworthy in the little things of this realm, what makes us think He will trust us with the more lofty assignments of Heaven?
In many ways, America's Christians are advantaged beyond anyone who has ever walked the planet. Not only do we live on this side of the cross (spiritual grace), we live on this side of dictatorial emperors and tyrannical monarchs (physical grace). Democracy is nothing less than Divine favor. But as uncle Ben once said, "With great power comes great responsibility!" To neglect the Divine advantage of self-government is shameful at best and complicit in the fall of a once God-centered nation at worst.
Don't bury your talent! Take full advantage of your Divine advantages.
Beginning next week, and running through election day, I will be posting excerpts from my book "A Vote of Conscience". I pray that you will join me in this timely study and be inspired to accept your responsibility as a Christian living in the most privileged nation on the earth.
For more on this subject, take a look at the book, "A Vote of Conscience".
Go To: Part 2 - The Greatest Threat to God's Favor
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