In the last post of this three part series, we ended saying that The Great Commission is Jesus sending us out, under His authority as King, to advance His kingdom. To many people, this would still give a “We don’t belong here, so who cares” attitude. This line of thinking results in not really caring about what’s going on politically (and sometimes extends further than that). Or the other extreme, being so focused on our time here that they get side-tracked by much of the silliness of politics, business, etc. Neither of these views is appropriate for a Christian. Neither of these views is appropriate for one who is Kingdom focused.
The Gospel Makes Politics Important
We are called and commanded to advance a kingdom. This is done through the moving of the Holy Spirit, a lot of prayer, and the preaching of the gospel. Christ said that He will build His church (Matt. 16:18), and then chose to use man to proclaim His kingdom as the means of building His church (Matt. 28:18-20). So, how does this make politics important?
When we look at church history, we see that the followers of Jesus boldly proclaimed the Kingdom of God. Paul’s language of “Jesus is Lord” in many of his epistles is a direct attack on Caesar’s claim to be Lord. As such, the proclamation of the gospel resulted in massive persecution from all sides. The Jews didn’t like the religious angle and the Romans didn’t like them saying that there was a higher power than Caesar. The persecution of Christians spreading the gospel continued into the 4th century, when Emperor Constantine removed the penalties for professing Christianity in 313 A.D. (Yes, I used Wikipedia so I could have an online reference, but I’ve read it in credible sources as well).
Foxe’s Book of Martyr’s gives us a glimpse into the life of the church prior to Constantine:
Now let us comprehend the persecutions raised by the Romans against the Christians in the primitive age of the Church, during the space of three hundred years. Wherin marvellous it is to see and read the numbers incredible of Christian innocents that were tormented and slain (p. 11).
This is why the gospel makes politics important: The only hope we have in advancing the gospel without fierce external persecution is an environment where we have liberty. As our founding fathers demonstrated, the only way to obtain such an environment is to, by God’s grace, intentionally cultivate such an environment.
Free from Freedoms
American culture is very much one obsessed with “rights”. American culture seems to be held captive by a sense of entitlement. We think that we are entitled to, that we deserve, our “rights”. And even now, some of the people reading this are thinking “We do deserve them!” Then we so quickly go back to slavery and say “No one should be able to treat another human being like that!” And that’s right, they shouldn’t. But where does this equality come from? Isn’t it because we were all created in the image of God? So, the basis for our equality is derived from God, not us. So, now we have to ask ourselves, if ALL people are created in God’s image, then why are we not like the rest of the world? Why is America not like Iran or Iraq? Why do we have freedom when other areas don’t? A shallow answer will say that it’s because the way our government is set up to allow freedom. Yet that very system of government is slowly on a path to abolish freedoms in the name of “political correctness” and “tolerance”. We have freedoms, or “rights”, because God ALLOWED us to have those freedoms. The freedoms we enjoy are a result of God’s GRACE toward us. Yet we have somehow managed to exchange gratitude for entitlement, and throw a temper tantrum any time someone violates our “rights”.
The gospel frees us from being that self-focused though! We’re here for the kingdom! We’re here for the King! Yes, we should absolutely do what we can to cultivate an environment where we can proclaim Christ as King freely. Yes, we should absolutely vote in a manner that reflects God’s desire and commands. But where is our freedom really based? It’s in Christ (John 8:38)! He has freed us from sin. He has freed us from selfishness. He has freed us to love and serve His enemies, as He did. So, when someone attacks our “freedom,” yes, we should vote and such to maintain an easy avenue to spread the gospel, but we have to realize that our freedom doesn’t change because it isn’t based on earthly laws. Ultimately, if Christ is King and has all authority, any change in our government system happens because He allows it (or causes it). Do we really want to act in a way that effectively accuses God of being unfair by allowing some of our “rights” to be removed or infringed upon?
So how do we respond when freedom is challenged? We proclaim Christ and we pray. We pray for ourselves to understand God’s purpose behind the challenge, and we pray for those challenging our freedoms to come to know Jesus as Lord, God, Savior, Treasure, Christ, and King.