Christians and Super Tuesday: Some Thoughts

A Brief History of Christians and Politics

The earliest Christians proclaimed their subversive message of hope despite their government, not through it. They met in secret –underground and in clusters. They held all things in common.

This radical form of selflessness, mutual affection, humility and love was their unintended method of guerilla marketing. And the movement grew like wildfire as a result.

When the Pilgrims first fled England in search of religious freedom, they did us a great service. But somewhere along the way that religious freedom tilted more towards Calvin’s Geneva experiment in some people’s minds, a mired attempt at modern day theocracy mixed with Jesus’ predicted coming kingdom.

Christians began to view their government as their agency for change, trusting it to do their acts of selflessness, mutual affection, humility and love for them, through process and institution, rather than underground and subversive.

While this produced a great government, it slowed the movement down tremendously.

And this government, once considered Christian, drew people from all faiths and backgrounds to become advocates for it. Their growing realization was that a Christian government was not the religious freedom those Pilgrims originally sought, so they sought to neutralize it.

 

 

Present Day Politics and Being a Jesus Follower

This is the secularization in government that so many describe themselves being frustrated by.

To be sure, there’s a whole generation of Christians who feel let down by that fact. But they shouldn’t.

You cannot institutionalize so great a salvation.

You cannot translate what Christ did on the cross, this wild, fierce, unstoppable, uncontainable, beautiful, reckless, transformative sea of love, mercy, and grace into some quiet, lifeless institution without giving up all of the qualities that made it so alive.

You cannot outsource your call to be radical.

You cannot systematize love or generosity.

And you cannot expect your government to do or be that for you. To be your agent of change in the world.

You are the agent of change, if you call yourself a follower of Christ.

You have been called to be that contrast.

As our government turns more and more secular, as our political world grows more and more outrageous, as our world turns more and more away from light,

you have greater opportunity than ever to be light.

Acts 17:26 states clearly that not only did God choose where you would be born, but when.

You have been chosen for now.

If you believe this present age to be dark-

Why would you bemoan having a greater canvas upon which to live out your faith?

Why rail against the government when the government has provided you greater opportunity to be the agent of change you have been called to be?

You believe culture to be wicked and egregious? Then what better stage for your lifestyle to clash upon than it?

Stop complaining the government isn’t doing it for you.

Aren’t you a little eager to get back to that original, authentic faith of our earliest brothers and sisters, the ones who reached the entire world with the message of Christ, even though the government literally was trying to kill them?

They never viewed their government as needing to be for them. So they never got angry when it did something that seemed to be against them. They just assumed their government wanted to kill them, because it did.

And in that environment they flourished.

Twenty-first Century North American Post-Modern Entitlement Mentality has claimed many victims. When did we get the idea in our heads that our government was supposed to operate as an arm of the church? When did we outsource our call to be righteous, to be “blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation,” so we could “shine like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2).

 

 

Missionaries

These are strong words, so I beg your pardon in writing them:

I believe the frustration many Christians feel is actually conviction in disguise.

Conviction that we are not answering the call. Conviction that we are not living as missionaries among a foreign people group.

If we did, I don’t think we’d care about politics, or elections, or political parties, or votes.

Our eyes would be set on the mission.

The times I’ve done missions overseas, I never once stopped to ask how I could become a citizen of that country and register to vote in their elections, so I could effectively reach more people for Jesus.

If I showed up at your door and told you that I was going to do mission work in South America and you asked what kind, if I answered “Voting,” you would laugh me out of your home and probably choose not to support me.

How is it any different here?

We are called to be missionaries, to live as those called out and entrusted with a message of reconciliation and love.

Salt and light. In but not of.

We are called to be missionaries wherever we are, to proclaim God’s great salvation wherever He has placed us.

If we truly viewed ourselves as missionaries I believe this would clarify what we held to be important and what we didn’t.

The missionary part is true. It’s our lifestyles that don’t measure up to that.

We’ve become so busy building our kingdoms here that we’ve stopped living for His.

So instead of influencing His Kingdom actively, so actively that we wouldn’t even notice politics or election cycles going on, we instead try to influence things passively, by putting in governmental places of power people who reflect us and our ideals.

If they represent us, we can get back to our kingdoms here.

That doesn’t sound like the radical, subversive, authentic Acts 4 faith mentioned in the beginning of this article anymore, does it?

We’ve relaxed our magnificent call into punching a ballot.

Is this the great salvation we have been called to?

How did we pollute that original, secret, dangerous, alien form of selflessness, mutual affection and love into something so rational and buttoned down?

We got lazy.

We outsourced our imperative to be missionaries to the government. So we could get back to our kingdoms here. And now we’re freaking out because our government might not reflect us so well anymore. What we should be freaking out over is our lack of obedience and just how far we’ve strayed.

 

 

So Now What?

The Apostle Paul tells a young Timothy over and over in the New Testament not to view himself as part of the culture, but instead as a missionary, an agent of change.

“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” he tells him (2 Timothy 2:3). He compares both he and Timothy to soldiers, and then goes on:

“No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer” (4).

Paul goes on to use several more analogies, before concluding with their call, as soldiers, among civilians:

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory (8-10).

Clarifies everything, doesn’t it?

The point of your life is to point to Him.

Stop getting distracted.

Stop putting any stock in the government.

Stop putting stock in politics.

Stop putting stock in elections.

Do you go vote?

Maybe. You should pray about that one. But I do wish pastors would stop telling their congregations that they need to or that they have an obligation to. That’s simply not true. And nowhere in the Bible is that stated.

I have a friend who is probably the most Christ-like person I know. He has won over more people to Jesus than anyone I know. Specifically people from a Muslim background. He prays without ceasing and he fasts regularly. His large family never closes its doors to outsiders who could be influenced for Christ, and there is always someone new at his table.

But he does not vote.

He became a missionary when he was eighteen. It’s all he has ever known. And now that he is back in the United States, he is no less a missionary than when he was in the Middle East.

As a missionary, he is far too distracted with being Jesus to “foreigners” to have time to participate in elections. He doesn’t see his ministry as being one that takes advantage of ballot boxes.

Voting is something between you and Jesus.

And while I would never say that Christians should not vote, I also would not say that they need to either.

 

 

Closing Prophetic Words

I’m reminded of some words Rich Mullins shared years ago at a concert he gave before his tragic death in 1997:

“I believe that if you were chosen, that if you were elected-

I believe if God has anything for you, it’s not just to make you happy.

God did not choose you and call you out of this world just to make you high. And God didn’t choose you and God didn’t call you out of this world just so you that could be pious. Because there are enough pious people and enough happy people in the world.

What God called you for, and what God called you to, is to make a difference in the world…

I don’t believe that God chose you and blessed you so that you could heap those blessings up upon yourself. I believe God chose you and you and you and every one of you others, because He wants to make a difference in this world.

And you know what? What I think is scary about God is He didn’t come up with any ‘plan B.’ That He left the Church here, and the Church is the only group of people and the Church is the only institution in the world that can bring about a change.

This government cannot do it, so stop depending on the government. Educational systems cannot do it, so stop trusting educational systems.

The church was chosen by God to make a difference.

And you know what, people? You ain’t going to make a difference by building more bombs. And you ain’t going to make a difference by putting on more makeup and showing up on more television shows. And you’re not going to make a difference by having the loudest P/A or the biggest crowd at your concerts.

You’re gonna make a difference when you lay down your life, and in complete submission to God, choose to die with Him in service to other people.”

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