Growing up in Dallas, I was your typical teenager – self-absorbed and ignorant of the world around me. As such, I never understood why politics were important. Before I really came to know Christ, politics just seemed like a bunch of people who can’t agree on anything arguing back and forth from now until the end of eternity. It was a giant circular argument that I didn’t want any part of. After I came to know Christ, it made even less sense. My mentality shifted from “These people will never get along” to “These people will never get along. But who cares?” If I’m going to Heaven when I die, who cares what happens here? Right? Wrong. I was, where I feel many people are. I only understood half of the gospel.
Half the Story
The message I kept hearing as I grew up was that I was a sinner, and Jesus came and died for me so I wouldn’t have to spend eternity in Hell. This is true, and I’m very grateful for this truth. But it’s only half of the truth. What was either not communicated, or completely lost on me due to a combination of youthful ignorance and A.D.D., was that Christ’s work on the cross is about much more than just me. While I knew that Jesus defeated sin and death (2 Tim. 1:10; Rev. 1:18), my understanding of this was too individualized. Because of my previously stated understanding of the gospel, I took this to mean Jesus defeated MY sin and MY death. Again, this is true, but it’s much, much bigger.
The Bigger Picture
Thank God that Christ died for individual sinners. Thank God that it’s about much more than that. Christ died to redeem the whole of creation. Christ died to restore the whole of creation (Rom. 8:20-21). Christ died to reverse the effects of The Fall. Christ died so that God would be just in delaying punishment of past sins (Rom. 3:25). Christ died so that God would be just in NOT killing Adam and Eve the second they sinned. Thank God that when Christ defeated sin and death, it wasn’t just MY sins and MY death, but the overarching power behind our sin nature that drives our individual sins and physical and spiritual death (Rom. 5). Jesus constantly talked about the Kingdom of God being here, and it was His life and death that inaugurated His kingdom. This is MUCH bigger than just the citizens of the kingdom. It’s about the kingdom itself. It’s about the King.
Most of us are familiar with The Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20. What we often overlook is the first line of Jesus’ words in verse 18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Jesus has been talking throughout Matthew and the other gospels about the Kingdom of God, and then He says that “all authority” has been given to Him. Jesus is saying that He’s the King! Then He, as the King over the Kingdom of God, tells us to “go and make disciples”, or “Go teach people how to love, live for, and serve the King and Kingdom”. Jesus isn’t telling us to simply go and tell people about an individualized message of personal hope, but to tell people about a kingdom! He’s commissioning us, as He did the disciples, to advance His kingdom.
What does all of this have to do with politics?
Find out on my next post: The Gospel and Politics – Part 2.