Saturday, November 10, 2012

Are Christian Conservatives the Big Losers of the 2012 Election?

A New York Times article asks, "Are Christian conservatives the big losers of the presidential election?"

My answer is, I don't know. 

But I do think that we who are charged with the proclamation of the Gospel should refrain from being identified with particular political philosophies. 

When we do so, we risk creating a false image of Jesus, turning Him into an idol made in our own images. 

We also risk conveying the false impression to the world that God endorses a particular political point of view, alienating people from God unnecessarily.

The true Christian message will alienate people. Bank on it. Jesus said so more than once. Check out His words in Matthew 10:35-38, for example.

But unless a government commands us to sin or to engage in idolatry, such as happened in Nazi Germany or happens in despotic states today, there shouldn't be a whiff of politics in what the Church or Christian leaders say. 

Individual Christians should be encouraged to be engaged in politics, whatever their philosophies. But the cause of Christ is too important to be made the hostage of politics.

My own denomination has made Jesus subordinate to liberal politics. 

Other Christian leaders have portrayed Jesus as marching to a conservative politics.

Both notions are lies. 

According to Pastor Ed Stetzer, an old saying has it right: When you mix politics and religion, you get politics. Politics is important. But only the faith commended by the Bible--faith that God in the flesh, Jesus Christ has died and risen so that all who turn from sin and believe in Him are reconciled with God, for now and for eternity--can change our lives.

And when the God we know in Christ changes our relationship with Him from enmity to friendship, He also will begin to transform the decisions we make and the reasons we make them. That includes political decisions. 

Will God make us more conservative or more liberal? 

The answer to that is probably, yes. 

When you dare to put yourself in the hands of the sovereign God of the universe, give Him the freedom to take charge of your whole life, there's no way of predicting where He will lead you. It makes me think of the risen Jesus' words to Peter on how Peter's life would be changed by following Him: "Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go” (John 21:18). 

Christians know that we are not in control. And that's a good thing, hard as it may sometimes be. 

That's what we mean when we Christians pray subversively, as Jesus taught us to pray, "Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Our nation might not be in the state it's in, selfishness elevated to a paramount position, if the Church and Christian leaders were more committed to proclaiming the Gospel and less concerned about seeing their preferred candidates elected to office. 

After all, we could be wrong about who to vote for. 

But we will never be wrong in commending Jesus, "the Way, and the Truth, and the Life"!

So, I come back to the Times' original question. Were conservative Christians the big losers in last Tuesday's election? I hope so. 

I hope equally fervently that liberal Christians were the big losers last Tuesday.

I hope that anyone who would dare to take a political position and claim, "Thus saith the Lord," got burnt so badly that they'll turn in repentance to the Lord, seek His forgiveness for trivializing the death and resurrection of Jesus, and pray that God will help all of us who bear Christ's Name to proclaim the Gospel in its purity for as long as God gives us breath.

The gospel message we are called to share is too important to be intermingled with our own political notions. We owe Christ more than that.

Called to Be Faithful, Not Stupid

This was just shared by Sundries over on Facebook. It made me laugh. But then it made me think.

Papamobil - schusssicheres glas,bullet proof glass,popemobile,faith,glaube,papamobil,god,gott,papst

And this was my comment:
Mightn't the pope traveling around unprotected be a bit like throwing one's self off the pinnacle of a temple [in the belief that God will always protect us from the consequences of our stupid decisions]?
Or refusing a blood transfusion because you think it denotes a lack of faith in God?
Seen in this light, the Popemobile is an implicit confession by every pope, "God is God and I'm not."
We live in a fallen world in which caution is warranted and isn't a sign of faithlessness.
I know: I'm a party-pooper. (Or is that party-poper?)

But while I totally get the humor, the fact is that our call is to be faithful, not stupid.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

An Election Day Reminder from God's Word

The psalm that many of us will be reading together this coming Sunday, Psalm 146, is perfect for this election week! (Funny how often God works out these "coincidences"!)

The psalm includes these lines:
Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that day their plans perish.

Happy are they whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, Who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; Who gives food to the hungry. (Psalm 146:3-7)
Who our president will be is far less important issue than Who our God will be.

It's only God Who can give us what we most need: forgiveness, life, and hope for today and for eternity.

The Bible makes it clear, of course, that the Christian's duty is to honor those holding the reins of political power.

Government leaders serve an important function in God's plans, battening down the chaos that would otherwise engulf the world when our sins against one another had the freedom to do its worst.

God appoints governments to coerce those unchanged by and resistant to the grace He gives through Jesus Christ to leave neighbors unmolested and to protect those who voluntarily accede to Christ as King of their lives. (Otherwise, Martin Luther once wrote, Christians would live in the world as hapless sheep among ravenous wolves.)

So, whoever is elected today should, according to the Bible, have the prayers and the loyalty of all Christians.

After all, if Jesus told His followers to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and if Peter and Paul, in the face of persecution, could tell Christians to pray for the emperors of a despotic Roman Empire, then we Christians in America today can surely pray for and honor the democratically elected leaders of a politically free country, whether we voted for them or not!

But the really important thing for Christians to remember today and every day is that, no matter how much we may like or dislike those elected to be our political leaders, it's stupid to put our hope in governments, politics, or leaders.

The God we know in Jesus Christ has become one of us, has died on the cross, and risen from the dead. He offers life to all who throw in with Him. The God we know in Jesus Christ will still be standing when the last king or president on earth has drawn a breath.

And if we will surrender our lives to Him, accepting His offer of forgiveness for all our sins and of new and everlasting lives to all who trust in Him, we can live in the confidence that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God, given in Jesus Christ.

That's a lot more important than an election.