Can non-believers see Christ when His believers look to a political savior? Today, we live in a world divided by politics, political correctness, political perceptions, appearances of substance, and quite honestly a heap empty words and catch phrases that many seem ready to kill for. Everyone seems to measure others or be measured by others’ use of such demagogic notions and jargon. This context brings to mind the passage, “They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.”
We see through the propaganda media, social media, online discussion groups and in everyday dialog that religious people feel the need carry one political banner or another. These all cooperate and participate in the loaded terminology that divides humanity into groups. And for what? I can only see a demonic intent tied to this affair: the express purpose of total disharmony and perhaps even annihilation.
With all the folks claiming Christ—all parading about in favor of their political savior for various reasons and with many justifications—where is the REAL body of Christ in this three-ring circus?
The answer? Precious few have not been bought and sold by the political false dichotomy of the realm around us. Jesus weeps today, friend. His followers are following something else.
Let’s investigate a bit:
If truth transcends everything human, earthly, and temporal; then WHY is so much of what comes out of religious people’s mouths is stuff couched in either the political left or the political right? I hadn’t read in the New Testament that Christ was “Republican” or “Democrat”. Can religious people really dupe themselves by dressing God up as a white, Anglo-Saxon protestant Republican, or a minority, Liberal, multi-culturalist, Democrat? Well, the highest numbers of church folk attempt to do so. What horrifies me is that those who play this charade cannot see it to be utter inversion of truth that it is. Those who would have you believe they follow Christ are some of the biggest proponents of this ruse called politics.
Why are God’s people invested in promoting either, what turns out to be anti-god ideals or that which distracts from following Him? How can the kingdom of God be placed under the basket of American political obstructionism without being squelched and made useless? Is God an American that He would bury His eternal objectives in the temporal issues and platforms of political parties in this country? You ought not think so.
Many religious teachers and preachers make it seem as though God’s objectives, and taking sides of the political aisle, share a common urgency with anyone who would wish to follow God. Turning at this point to take the long view, what has either side of the political aisles’ tomfoolery done to further God’s agenda in the last 70 years? Has the religious community become that much more dedicated, identifiable, set apart, resplendent or closer to God, or closer to appearing like Him because of the political involvement they’ve busied themselves with? I can see that Christ has been obscure by their having done so. I also seem to remember an axiom: no one can serve two masters. Not even an apologist could make a case to defend such a train wreck as the religious community has become BECAUSE of their political tomfoolery. The famous statistician George Barna quit publishing a lot of data concerning the religious community because it is so deplorable, it is indefensible; if, we still take the New Testament seriously.
How are we to influence a world of sinful people by talking and dealing in the same political chicanery as they busy themselves with and talk about incessantly?
Does a political agenda somehow magically become eternal because Christians pick it up and run with it?
What use are God’s advocates who take our beliefs, place them under the basket of a birth on to a political stage supposed to do about projecting light and truth about the kingdom of God?
If our effort does not result in transformation of the unregenerate who make up society and culture, what do we think we are doing for Christ?
If our efforts do not result in the outcomes that surrounded Christ ministry on earth, are we not deluding ourselves to imagine we are doing the same things as He did?
At some point we have to wake up and see that the religious community has been co-opted by a political agenda, which floats the boat of the temporal order instead of ours. We need to take responsibility that we have been duped with good sounding baloney and for a purpose that has nothing to do with what we’ve been commanded to do (love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves). How is this done with political activism of any sort? What have these political saviors done besides divide every man against his neighbor and the religious community against itself in order to be factions of a political charade everyone is fighting everyone else over? Think people!
Given the praxis of the highest majority of those parading under the name of Christ, we are forced to then assume a number of things.
- That political saviors and their political concerns are the beginning and end of all reality
- That there is no truth outside an entrance into a political discussion
- That historical events and human developments nullify what we are told in the Bible
- That Christians really don’t care about what the Bible says
- That Christians are Americans rather than followers of Christ
The hell you say! How can I conclude so drastically? People mean well, right? Purpose and good intentions mean everything, right? I mean, we all try, right?
Well, let’s put that notion to the test, shall we?
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
It doesn’t appear to me that God is impressed with the intentions of men, be they good or hollow. He is interested in those who known Him and OBEY Him, John 14:15. This brings to mind another Socratic question. Can we obey God without promulgating the political agenda or the existence of these political saviors? I don’t think many Christians have even thought this possible. They are completely defined by the political order and only give ascent to any religious notions they might deem valuable in their self-justifications.
We can, by contrast, look no further than Christ or Paul for guidance. Both were almost oblivious to the politics of their day, except when it pushed them into the corner. Even then the political order could not shut them down or stop what they were doing. They functioned, ministered, lived, and worked as if they were completely in another world, where “the politics of the day” didn’t even exist. Their approach seemed to work because the world was completely and irreparably affected by them. And yet when we consider what “politics” is and has done to the world; are we so obtuse we cannot realize that in NOT being like Christ and Paul, we have ONLY become the bow by which the political fiddle is played; even if we meant to represent Christ? We have to learn a different approach, that of Christ, IF we really want to follow Him.
How do we do this? Well, I am glad you asked!
First, we have to stop talking in the terminology and catchphrases of “the world.” I think one of the most misunderstood aspects of existence for the follower of Christ is that when we use the terms and thinking of the world, we are pushing their agenda whether we mean to or not.
Jacques Ellul makes a fine point in this regard:
“The moment Christians make it a habit to understand questions, which the world has elaborated, they adopt at the same time a certain number of ideological positions, responses, and doctrines, which also originate in the world. It can hardly be otherwise the moment one confines oneself to the basic notions of the problem as defined by non-Christians. In doing so, Christians achieve an exact confirmation of the analysis of Marx, according to which Christianity is (merely) a superstructure (in a larger organism). When one takes world hunger as “the problem” and repeats the analyses of Castro and others, when he adapts Christianity to those views, then Marx is right. This (kind) of Christianity is then a religion which develops in terms of the world’s economic and technological evolution, and whose aim is to provide ideological and moral satisfaction to those who are in fact incapable of changing the situation. It is a substitute. If it be said that Christianity should arouse people to action in changing the situation, then those who enter that work area find out very soon how useless, futile, and ineffective Christianity is in all that. Further, since the Christian is involved in a gigantic, technical, and “weighty” endeavor, he soon discards spiritual preoccupations and pursuits of faith, for these are now mere embarrassments and epiphenomena. To seize upon the world’s problem as the world states them, is to accept the world’s basic notions of them, its self-sufficient prescriptions for solutions, and to give them first place, is to become part of the dialectic trend as Karl Marx described it. This is accurate to the very extent to which Christians allow themselves to be confined, to the extent to which they cease to represent the HOLY OTHER who intervenes and who introduces miracles into history. Now acting thus, Christians are abandoning the very thing which is their function with respect to the world, and which has a bearing on the course of events in this century. That function is to introduce a “tension”, an element of contradiction and conflict, which replaces the false dialectic of Marx with the true dialectic. However, this true dialectic cannot exist in the concrete situations of the world unless the Christians really have another Fatherland and are “ambassadors” for Christ, “strangers” among nations and “exiles” on the earth. If they are not that, they can keep on declaring that “Jesus is Lord”, but they still limit themselves to confirming the course of the world as it is.” –Jacques Ellul, False Presence of the Kingdom, pgs. 50-51
Here is what should be gleaned:
Ellul is saying that when we talk and think in terms the world deals in, we are then playing their game. As Christ said, we can’t play two games at the same time. What we see of those claiming Christ in America is that they are definitely Americans. In practical terms Christ is but a footnote, according to what their practices show us. In practical terms, the message of God is specifically arrested by a temporal agenda and the kingdom of God is magic black box that will figure itself out, without our cooperation or involvement. In the current state of affairs with the religious community “Christianity” ONLY grows in reaction to exterior stimuli caused by the world. The “church” has become incapable of acting independent of causation. Christians cannot see anything God has said but what it is interpreted and manipulated by current events. That is beyond exquisitely stupid! As for God Himself, the highest number of Christians live as if God is muzzled by a closed book or is far removed from the reality of life on earth. How else can we account for what we see happening with the religious crowd? Well, maybe they are asleep in the Light.
How can we stop the merry-go-round and recover the reality of obeying God, and being a counter-culture God called us to be?
Toss the politics! Quit listening to the propaganda of your favorite political savior. Stop thinking that “you” have to be political to be used by God. Take stock of the New Testament reality that we no longer belong to the realm around us. Stop thinking that the world is going to be made better and that its problems can be solved as they think of them. Start being the good Samaritan. Listen to your neighbor, co-worder, and friend rant about the politics of day and be ready to ask them “how is all that working out for you?” We need to BE the light, BE the truth, BE confident in the hope we have, and BE impervious to the manipulation and reductionism of the political savior of the day.
When our answers and life do not depend on what happens politically, we become a contrast to the obstructionism of politics. We are no longer beholding to a political order. We are no longer threatened by one thing happening or other things not happening politically.
God’s work in Christ never started with the political order nor did it stop there. The kingdom of God is not about making the world a better place. It is about BEING the better place in the world because we’ve been given the tools and ability to be everything a political savior can only make perennial platforms with. We need to take the political footballs away from the politicians by being what they ONLY ever talk about in order to get re-elected.
We need to realize that this world is going to end in a hell of a mess, which doesn’t mean that we be wasteful or excessive in our living. We also need to realize the world is not something which has to be tolerated until we hit the sweet by-and-by, where it is all good for us. This is so that we can BE truth in the nasty now-and-now. God is NOT interested (or dependent) on America any more than He is interested in Antarctica or Mars. The world order cannot do anything but destroy what God made, all while they talk about their agenda to “save the planet.” These political saviors are smoke and mirrors at best—both sides of the aisle. Anyone follower of Christ who supports them, listens to them, acts upon their articulations are NOTHING more smoke and mirrors themselves.
America is NOT God’s agenda. God did not call His ekklesia to be a substructure of a social political order. God’s agenda is other-Kingdom sedition because He does not intend that we be rebels and activists against the system or in support of some radical political solution. But by doing what He wants it will subvert the system of the world and show God in the eternal nowness that He is, as well as the utter futility of what the system of the world is and how little it offers.
The religious people who talk about voting for one presidential candidate or another practice God being dead. They practice tossing the New Testament as being meaningless all while they talk about what is to be believed from it. The reason America is in the shape it is in is because what calls itself church is in the deplorable state of having denied God, and His purposes, and the narrow way of His followers. They instead want civil religion. They want inclusion in and protection of the mediocrity of the state. They want state-sponsored freedoms to do as they please. They want political gerrymandering and manipulation in order to have control maintained over them.In Luke 18:8, Christ had just finished telling a parable. He concluded with a question of implication. “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” The question is a significant one, which even God wondered at out loud. God doesn’t care if you can heal the sick, raise the dead, do miracles, carry political placards or try to dominionistically “occupy” to the end of an imaginary theological age. God is concerned that we KNOW Him and OBEY Him period. God is not more or less sovereign because we take sides in temporal, political issues or because one or another political savior rises to power. God literally has everyone’s strings whether they are Nebuchadnezzar’s or Joseph Stalin’s or Mr. Rogers’. God’s agenda is not stymied by any political obstacle any more than a tidal wave can be slowed by an ant.
We need to stop being dupes, temporal minded, American’s and the divided; because of any political agenda. We, as followers of Christ, need to stop taking sides and thinking we are empowered or disenfranchised by political discussions, words, and agendas.
Romans 15:4 tells us, “For what was written in earlier times was written for instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of scripture we might have hope.”
We can look at the story of Daniel who listened to God, who would not corrupt Himself with the delicacies of the realm in order that he might honor God and be used to His purpose. We read the story with amazement. Daniel is us, we are Daniel. We can and should do the same. Today, following the tune of one of a political savior is the delicacy of the realm, the king’s food…
We can look at David, before he became king. He would not lift up his hand against the ungodly king because GOD had established him. To take matters into his own hands would be dishonoring of God; as well as failing to accomplish His purposes. We read this story in amazement of God’s deliverances. However, we’ve forgotten that David is us, and we are David in as much as God would have us do and be similar in our own day.
We can look at Esther, as she was at the beck and call of an absolute tyrant. She did not bow and scrape, cower, or kowtow because she knew she was living a mission that conflicted the order amongst which she lived. We read her story in amazement. But yet, how is Esther not us, and how are we not Esther because the same God who guided, blessed, directed and protected her is with us today.
I could go on and on… But I will close with this. We need to get our head right first about what it means to follow Christ. Jesus told Pilate (the politics of the day) “My kingdom is NOT of this world…” This has never changed. History—or a magical force called providence—didn’t provide the world with America in order to abrogate the word of God. Jesus wasn’t an American, and if we are following Him we cannot be either. The religious clubs in this country need to stop teaching gospel lite and easy believism.
Can we say (sing) the following with any amount of authenticity today?
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name
Does our daily talk show our trust is in Joe Biden or Donald Trump?
We need to learn to listen to God in our lives as to how to live what we read in the Bible. We need to learn that when we become stupendous in what God calls us to do, the political savior will come running in order to acquire our “secret sauce” which will propel him to success. It is okay to be “used” by them but do not take it into your head that you’ve become the tail that wags the dog, or that you can whitewash the dog. The world is wasting away. Our job is to be light and truth in this hell and to be ready to minister to others who we find crushed and destroyed for having put their faith in the systems of men. We cannot be of help and service if we are at the same time surrender to a political savior seeking sustenance, position, meaning, inclusion, or purpose from the same junk that is destroying the world.
We live what we really believe every day, the rest of what we talk about is religious or political dung.
Timothy L. Price
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