This past Tuesday, November 6th was Election Day here in the United States. I challenged my readers to put their ability to vote into perspective, and declare that Jesus is King. You can read that post here.
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s political circus, and in light of the reactions that I have read and heard from evangelicals across the country, I felt compelled to share what I believe to be a biblical perspective of recent events and the days to come.
If you’re a follower of Christ and you are in any way troubled or overjoyed by the outcome of the recent presidential auction, then you really need to spend some time reflecting on King Jesus and what the Kingdom of God looks like on the earth, and how it’s to be lived out through the church.
In helping us to rethink the Kingdom together, I think we need to be reminded of a biblical theology of the devil and the truth about demonic involvement in the kingdoms of the world. And then (re)consider the way in which God is sovereign in the world today.
Holy Spirit, please open our eyes and ears to your truth.
Prince of the Power of the Air
I have recently mentioned in my post What Would Jesus Not Do? that Satan has power and authority to manipulate the kingdoms of the world. We can see this in Matthew 4:8-9. Jesus doesn’t dispute Satan’s claim.
While we don’t know how the Devil originally came to have this power, the Scripture is clear on the matter.
John says that “the whole world lies under the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Paul refers to Satan as “the god of this age” and as “the ruler of the power of the air” (2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2). Jesus referred to Satan as the “ruler of this world” (John 12:21; 14:30; 16:11), indicating that he is the highest demonic ruler behind the kingdoms of the world.
Greg Boyd writes, “Functionally, Satan is the acting CEO of all earthly governments” (The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church, p.22).
This ought to be very sobering to those believers who think that politics is the avenue by which God reigns on the earth. If we will accept this biblical idea, we will see more clearly why it is that Jesus rejected politics as a method of advancing his upside-down Kingdom.
In Daniel 10 we learn that the reason Daniel’s prayers were not seemingly being answered was due to the demonic “princes” that were at work behind the powers that be in the world. The angel that appears to Daniel tells him of the demonic powers that were working behind the scenes to bring chaos and destruction through empires. And that this would impact God’s people.
In the book of Revelation, the Devil is revealed as the ruler of all kingdoms of the world as if it were one kingdom of darkness that Jesus would claim in his return (Rev 11:15). John’s apocalyptic vision portrays Jesus and the church as the target of Satan, who is the great dragon behind the evil deeds of governments (Rev 12:1-17).
Jacques Ellul has written: “He (Satan) brings all his efforts to bear against those who carry grace and love in the world… to prevent God’s love from being present in the world” (The Subversion of Christianity, p.177).
While there is presently a great demonic influence at work in the kingdoms of the world, the Lord intends to bring about the end of all nation-states to make way for the establishment of one Kingdom with Christ as ruler of a new heavens and earth. God will soon crush Satan (Rom 16:20).
In the meantime, there is a covert spiritual evil at work in governments.
“What the vanquished powers can always do is dramatize the situation on earth, make human life intolerable, destroy faith and mutual trust, make people suffer, kill off love, and prevent the birth of hope. In other words, what seems to me to be biblically certain is that the evil powers make earth a hell…” (Ellul, p. 177).
How then can we possibly think that our direct involvement in politics is a Christian “duty” as a citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20)? We are aliens and strangers (1 Pet 2:11). A soldier in a foreign land does not get involved with civilian affairs. They obey their commanding officer (2 Tim 2:4).
Messiah Jesus has shown us the way to overcoming evil. Will we follow him?
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:10-12
Is God in Control?
I find it interesting that those believers who say, “God is in control” after their candidate loses, don’t often live like it in the days leading up to elections. Their attitudes, their language, and their fear-mongering say something much different about God.
Saying that “God is in control” seems to be the evangelical response to tragedy, real and perceived evils, and personal disappointment. And then there is confusion as to what and how God is “controlling” the world around us. I think it’s important that we think about this a bit.
Calvinists are the most inconsistent here. They say, “God is in control” to mean that every single thing that happens on the planet is because God made it happen, but reserve the right to be disappointed when their candidate loses and evil prevails in the world. Huh?
For many reasons, I can’t help but find this view so terribly illogical, even downright disturbing. I don’t know why anyone would be outraged by any evil activity if everything happens because God wills that it happen.
I must admit that I’m appalled by this idea. It’s ridiculous and should be rejected as a proper understanding of God’s sovereignty.
Any idea of “God is in control” that doesn’t allow for a great level of human free will and the existence of spiritual evil fighting against the will of God is a bankrupt and empty theodicy.
It’s not even worthy to be considered as a legitimate explanation for evil in the world. I prefer a Trinitarian Warfare Worldview.
Many folks use the cliché that “God is in control” simply because things didn’t go their way, and they can’t make sense of the world around them.
It also sounds like some believers are implying that God must have wanted this or that particular person in office, while refusing to acknowledge that sometimes God’s will is not always done.
Of course, it could be that God’s will is being done and they just don’t like it. But since they are supposed to be OK with whatever God does (including evil), they say, “God is in control.”
Which is it? I’m not real sure what is meant by this phrase anymore.
I do think that we have been guilty of proclaiming that “God is in control” simply because we are trying to remind ourselves of something we’ve not been entirely convinced of yet. Our fearful words and actions in an election year prove this to be true.
We must come to a biblical consensus on who is responsible for evil, and what God is doing about it. If we call ourselves Christians, then Christ must be viewed as God’s response. Therefore, our response to evil must look like the God revealed in Jesus. Nothing else will do.
Many evangelicals have yet to come fully into the peace and rest of Christ, and the assurance that the true King and his Kingdom will not be overcome—not even by hell itself (Matt 16:18). Jesus said it. We can believe it.
America will collapse in time, but the gospel of the Kingdom will live on. And possibly in more powerful ways than the church in America has ever known in her worldly comforts and freedoms.
God does not give a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power in the knowledge of our living hope. It’s fear that garners a trust in politics and the power of the sword, not the living hope of Christ in us.
Is God in control? I have no doubt. But how is he in control?
As one theologian has put it, “God’s sovereignty doesn’t look like a huge bicep coming out of heaven. It looks like the cross of the crucified Jesus.”
The control of God looks like a bloody cross, not a bloody sword.
This power looks foolish to those who have not known it.
God was in control when the forces of darkness crucified the King of the universe for claiming that his Kingdom is the real deal, and Caesar’s kingdom is just the parody.
That’s what God’s sovereignty looks like.
Fallen angels and wicked men war against the Lamb, but the Lamb triumphs in surrender. He wins by dying, not by killing. We’re called to follow him in this way of overcoming evil with good (Rom 12:17-21). We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Rev 12:11).
All other methods of confronting evil, no matter how noble and good, compromise the distinctive nature of the Kingdom of God that the church is called to manifest. Do you believe this?
Jesus prayed for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven because clearly the Father’s will is not always done (Matt 6:10). Yet God is in control even as spiritual evil uses its freedom to oppose his reign.
Now that’s sovereignty!
So, if you believe that “God is in control” then you should live like it before and after presidential elections. And understand what it means to say such a thing. We must have “cross” control in mind.
What if the Church…
What if the church in America didn’t just say, “Jesus is King” in moments of great safety and security on the earth, but actually lived like he is the reigning King of the whole universe right in the middle of this political mess—in the midst of this present evil age?
Imagine what the church could do in the earth through the Spirit’s power if she moved forward with the courage of the early church that had no political power to advance the Jesus movement.
What if we lived like that?
I submit to you that our national, ethnic, and socio-economic boundaries and identities would fade away. We would discover a new identity with one allegiance. Healing would flow from Christ, through the church, to all the nations of the world.
If we would pledge to Jesus and his methods of doing justice, God’s desire to bring heaven to earth would be known in the earth. We would move closer to the reality of which Christ promises to complete in his return.
That’s Christianity, folks. That’s what God wants in the earth.
And he waits for a church that wants his will to be done—a people that welcome his Kingdom, not look for an escape.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Let these times of ours be a reminder to you that the hope of the world is not found in the kingdoms of the world and their politics of corruption.
This is one more opportunity for us to rethink the church’s quest for politics and the ugliness that results from confusing the way of Caesar with the way of Christ. I want to encourage you to give some serious thought to this.
Brothers and sisters, I feel strongly that the future of the church in America depends upon whether or not she is able to successfully embrace the beauty of the Kingdom of God over and against a pervasive nationalism that presently holds her captive to the use of worldly kingdom politics as a means to God’s good ends. This is my prophetic word. You be the judge.
It’s time to turn the tides and begin trusting in the way of the crucified Messiah. Lord, help us to be creatively engaged in acting out the good news of the Kingdom in the way of Christ.
Will you join me in reimagining the Kingdom manifested on the earth?
D.D. Flowers, 2012.
November 8th, 2012 at 11:05 am
David, I not only join you, I rejoice in the clarity, and manner you are able to express this simple , yet profound truth.
Our human based reasoning that is fraught with duplicity, error, and pride. In and through the grace filled Life of Christ we are set free from our human nature, and given the strength, and ability to live ‘in’ and through Christ. This graceful renewal of our minds allows us to see and understand life in terms of Jesus, and his Kingdom.
This past election will give both sides ample evidence to better understand the kingdoms of this world are corrupt. Fallen men and women governing fellow fallen folks, with a hefty dish of spiritual darkness added for good measure, can have only one outcome.
The church in America is in need of a transfusion, one that replenishes the heart and mind with the work of the cross. We must embrace the work of the cross in order to be freed from our human based perspectives. We are called and chosen to be ‘salt and light’, and peacemakers. And to do this in and through the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ.
This is our time, this is our greatest, and most necessary work. To lay our lives down for the building and unity within the Ekklesia.
Thank you David for your ministry of reconciliation.
November 9th, 2012 at 9:28 am
November 8th, 2012 at 11:09 am
WOW David! What a word! You put into words everything that I am thinking and feeling right now. I long to see the Kingdom manifested on the earth!!!
November 8th, 2012 at 11:14 am
Once again you are right on target. Stunning! This is the very message that God has put on my heart and this message has only grown these last few days. I feel this delight that God refuses to allow us to think that politics, a man or our man in political office will save us or right the country. Indeed, the early church did not need to be involved in politics to survive and thrive and make an impact in an oppressive society. “Your Kingdom come.” It looks nothing like what we have been pursuing. Now may be the time for us to really open up our eyes to how Christ may bring about His kingdom on the earth through us, His body. Governments will fail and countries will fall, but we belong to an eternal Kingdom that cannot be destroyed.
November 8th, 2012 at 12:34 pm
Hi David, Thanks for your thoughts although a point of clarification:
I think you may be taking a little too tight a definition of politics, meaning between states or national government (Or so it sounds). “Politics” come into play as soon as you have any group of people gathered for any purpose, intent or length of time. A church (any church) has politics naturally because we are social beings and tend to organize. Monasteries have politics and governance. Even very flattened out decision-making groups like the Plains Indian tribes had politics although each was allowed to form their own opinion or reject the views of their elders. War chiefs were granted authority to conduct campaigns but not decision-making authorities as we envisioned which led to all kinds of problems since they could not sign treaties or make decisions like that to cede land on behalf of their people.
Surely not all plans, intents, practices of forming groups, planning, or organizing them are evil, or of the devil. I don’t see the scriptures saying that. HOW its done in the world (from a top down position of power) is surely wrong/evil no doubt.
I see the point being Jesus’ political thought being:
Service/selflessness over Power/control
People over goals/tasks/ideology
Honesty over manipulation
Others over me/my interests
Peace and reconciliation over enmity/war/force
Assurance/faith in God over Fear/rejectionism/”What-if’s”
Present over the future (or past)
Personal responsibility/repentance over avoidance/blame/irresponsibility
If these are present and the sinful up-side down politics of the world are rejected, I think you see the Kingdom coming in that rejection and ordering of life under the King’s design.
Just my thoughts on a subject that I’ve read on and wrestled with for many, many years. From one Christ-follower to another.
November 8th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
Hey Mark, I understand the point you’re making. I explicitly have in mind the politics that rule over men with power-over and use the sword. This is what I see at work in the NT. So, to be clear, I wasn’t implying that every grouping and organization of people is evil.
Thanks for thinking through this stuff with the rest of us. I appreciate your input.
November 8th, 2012 at 12:37 pm
One more thought on Calvinism and God being in control:
I think your view of ‘Calvinism’ and Calvinists is slightly skewed.
I see almost all believers as saying: 1. God is in control ultimately 2. Most believers being upset about the election results. I see Calvinism as recognizing/affirming that Jesus HAS BEEN granted all authority in heaven and earth (incl. over countries) already/in the past. That He has sat down at the right hand of God. That He is reigning (as in Hebrews 1) even though we don’t presently see everything in subjection to Him yet. People and governments are still rebelling but as it says in Luke, “They would not have Him reign over them,…He was made king however.”
This should be reflected in the faith/quiet assurance of believers both in good times and bad, in their life, faith, prayers, confidence, and humility. It is that indestructible something that causes believers to allow martyrdom while their faith/confidence remains intact.
I think that you are VERY RIGHT, Calvinists can easily succumb to fear, pride, control and begin to ‘govern’ in Jesus name in ways that He rejects and that belong to the enemy. This temptation to use the world’s “will to power” against them is very strong and why some Christian sects have chosen to reject voting, the military, any involvement in participatory governance at all. It’s simply easier. To get on about God’s work and the kingdom. To reject politics altogether.
However, I believe that Jesus isn’t into either camp – Saducean political compromise and being coopted by the established powers that be or the Essene version of running for the hills/separating ourselves to remain holy.
He called from neither one, but a radical witness instead in the daily, ever-political arena of first-century Israel under Rome by taking a stand to do things differently and for others in such a way that people couldn’t help but realize was revolutionary, voluntary and exemplary. I think N.T. wright speaks eloquently to how almost everything in Jesus’ world was ‘political’ and Jews saw no divide/distinction between political and religious thought/life. How could they not be impressed with His teaching?
November 8th, 2012 at 2:24 pm
Hey Mark, I knew someone would chime in on my Calvinism remarks. 🙂 You won’t be the last.
I’ll say this… anytime you mention something like Calvinism the way I have, you must simplify things—which doesn’t recognize nuances. So, I know that this will describe many folks, even those that don’t want to admit it. I didn’t have space here to dive down deep into that system of thought.
Here is what I stated in the tread on That’s My King:
I certainly agree with Wright on the fact that religion and politics were one and the same in the first century. I have pointed this out myself in other posts. However, where I disagree with Wright is where he seems to want to go from there. I tend to lean toward an Anabaptist interpretation, which Wright has expressed he doesn’t agree with.
I think what Jesus was laying down was a new way of living in the world. Participating in worldly politics wasn’t a part of it.
Please read my post The Jewish Religious (Political) World of Jesus. I don’t think a capitulation to worldly kingdom politics or a withdrawal from society is the answer.
November 8th, 2012 at 9:37 pm
Such clarity and power. You hit it out of the park David! Thanks for crystallizing the huge concept of the kingdom into something we can sink our teeth into and understand.
November 9th, 2012 at 9:32 am
November 9th, 2012 at 6:41 am
I appreciate the focus on a Scriptural interpretation of Kingdom life. However, I don’t agree that Christians have no place in politics and leadership. Surely, those who have a gift of leadership might be called to exercise it in some “political” office. Surely God has different callings for his people that would include working through the political arena.
Politics is not “the answer,” but it is one area where some are called. Just as not all Christians are pastors or business leaders or teachers. It is our duty to find God’s calling in whatever part of His creation He chooses.
Secondarily, I wonder about your implications on the Kingdom coming through the church. While I agree with you about the escapist nature of popular rapture theology, I do think that the Scriptures teach that only Jesus can bring His Kingdom to full fruition. Things here will only get worse until He returns. (Of course, revivals and such may change the tide for a time, but the overall trajectory is downward.)
November 9th, 2012 at 8:43 am
Hey Sean, I’ll leave room for others to follow Christ the best they know how. However, the way I understand the Kingdom of God and it being juxtaposed to the kingdoms of the world, I don’t know how it’s possible to involve yourself with the power-over, corrupt practice of national politics and remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus and his example.
My concern is that the whole idea of ruling over men with law and order is simply not the purpose for which followers of Christ have been commissioned. While the governments are necessary for fallen men to restrain fallen men (Rom 13:1-7), it’s not the business of the Christian (Rom 12:1-21).
The way I understand it is that Jesus wants us to follow him in another way of doing life (relationships, spirituality, justice, beauty, etc.) in contrast to the kingdoms of the world. There is a “politics of Jesus”, but it is separate from the kingdom of Caesar. So, I don’t know how you can further the Kingdom of God and also be trying to control others through secular law. Keep in mind that this was the unanimous position of the early church for the first two centuries, until the church took on Roman governmental forms and saw its first “Christian” emperor.
How can you say that people have been called to politics when Jesus himself distanced himself from it, and the first disciples followed him in it? Does the Lord call people to tasks that doesn’t look like Jesus and the Kingdom of God? Sure, we’re not all called to the same task, but none of us can be called to do a task that is contrary to the example of Jesus and the nature of the Kingdom of God.
As I have stated before, I believe that only Christ can bring the fullness of the Kingdom in his return. However, I have been making a case that expecting things to increasingly get worse is evidence of a “rapture” theology having saturated our thinking. While I believe that good and evil will run alongside each other until the end of the age, I’m much more hopeful than a good bit of evangelicalism.
I believe we should be expecting the Lord to bring a greater level of the Kingdom all the way up to his second coming. That doesn’t look like us circling the drain. Maybe that’s what we’re experiencing right now in human history, but I expect things to change. The world has yet to see a global outpouring of God’s Spirit like we see in the first years of the church. I’m expecting something like Acts 2 on a global scale.
And I’m a hopeful realist.
November 9th, 2012 at 11:27 am
I appreciate the very thoughtful reply. However, I do have a problem holding up the early church as he paragon of the Christian life. They had their own problems (else we wouldn’t have much of the NT!). God’s Spirit works in all ages and times.
And, yes, I do think God calls us to things that don’t look exactly like Jesus. Husband/wife, parents, business people, pastors, musicians, artists, scholars, writers, bloggers(!) — lots of things that Jesus didn’t do in His earthly ministry. I can’t agree that politics is such an evil realm that Christians should not even participate. That is giving up ground we should be taking.
November 9th, 2012 at 11:36 am
Sean, I don’t intend to hold up the early church as if she had no flaws. Her errors do not discount what I’ve claimed. It simply cannot be ignored that the early church was in agreement that politics and violence were not the realm of the Kingdom citizen. The fact that their understanding was built upon the life and teachings of Jesus makes this a universal (not cultural) principle for the church.
I don’t understand how you have compared a role that is by its nature contrary to the will of God in Christ and his Kingdom, with familial relationships and other legitimate callings that allow for Kingdom expression. The role of politician relies fundamentally on operating off of principles that run contrary to the Kingdom that Jesus revealed.
If Jesus or anyone else in all of early church history believed that we should be tweaking the kingdoms of the world, I might be more inclined to do it. So, while I can see followers of Christ impacting politics indirectly through counter-cultural living, I don’t see that it is mandated, or even allowed, that we should take up the mantle of political power and exert the use of the sword.
November 9th, 2012 at 1:53 pm
Could a Christian serve others on a school board, or town council truly out of a servant’s heart, not using power or manipulation or any other authority to harm but only bless? Yes, such would be a Christian being a light in a dark place, helping and being a good testimony I believe. They would have to be careful not to be tempted as Jesus was to use their power for selfish ends, to take the easy way out (versus real communication and agreement), or to compromise their witness or standards. I think the issue is seeing these areas /politics/etc. as ‘solutions’ or ‘answers’ to seeing the KOG manifest. They are not.
November 9th, 2012 at 9:51 am
Given Christ’s declaration that as a result of the Cross, He now has all authority in Heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18) and thus commands us to now go redeem not just individuals, but nations (Matt. 28:19-20)…
And given that Jesus clearly states in Rom 13 that He ordains civil government, defines the proper role of civil government, and calls those who serve in fulfilling those functions His “ministers”…
And given your theology, which says in effect that Satan nonetheless still has authority despite His defeat at the Cross (which goes way beyond saying he still has “position” and can still deceive – as to which I would agree)…
And given your conclusion that Christ’s followers nonetheless should not use or influence civil government for good because it is part of Satan’s evil domain…
What about this?
On Tuesday, California’s Proposition 35 passed by overwhelming margins. It lengthens prison terms for human trafficking, and was spearheaded and placed on the ballot by evangelical Daphne Phung and the organization he founded, Californians Against Slavery, based on his Christian convictions.
Was Phung wrong to do that?
If so, why?
If this was OK, but other forms of civil engagement by Christians is not, why not?
November 9th, 2012 at 10:47 am
I agree that Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and earth. I’m aware of Matt 28:18. Clearly his authority is allowing Satan to currently manipulate the kingdoms of the world. Just turn on the news. The defeat of Satan on the cross is not final, it’s just begun. The prince of this world is being driven out.
“Nations” (Gk: ethne) in v.18 refers to ethnic groups. The idea is a calling “nations” out of their former identities into the Kingdom of God—which is what Jesus had taught his disciples.
Attention should be given to ch. 12 before ch. 13—reading these chapters as a unit of thought. Paul is clearly contrasting Christian living with the role of the state. His call to Christians is even book-ended with “love does not harm to its neighbor” (13:10). The church is called to be agents of love, governments are agents of wrath (v.4).
Romans 13 can’t be properly understood apart from the entire unit of thought. If Christians have a new King and good news that subverts the empire, how then should they relate to Caesar’s rule?
Here is how Christians have often read Romans 13.
I will not deny that “good” can come out of politics. What I have said is there is nothing distinctively Kingdom about it. Christians do all sorts of things based on convictions and good motives. And God will even at times use it, he’s cool like that. However, you will not find those methods used by Jesus or the early church.
The church creatively addressed the injustices of the empire apart from politics. This is plain in early church history. And this was in the midst of local and empire-wide persecutions. In fact, the church grew to 3-5 million before she ever became political.
How did it ever grow so much? I believe it was because the counter-culture Jesus movement attracted those fed up with the corruption and impotence of politics and the hopelessness of empty civic religion.
The church should embrace the politics of Jesus. His Kingdom doesn’t rely on power-over, legislating sin, and the fear of pain and prison. His Kingdom politics is about inward transformation for an earthly revolution. It always looks like Jesus loving, serving, forgiving, reconciling, bleeding, hoping, and dying for enemies.
Never in the history of the church has she ever been able to balance worldly kingdom politics with Christian discipleship. It always ends badly for the church. Over and over again Jesus’ words prove true: “My kingdom is not of this world…” (Jn 18:36).
November 9th, 2012 at 1:46 pm
Got to agree with you here, David. The best example of what a believer in service to the government looks like is probably John the Baptist with the soldiers and tax collectors in Luke 3: “Do no harm, do not use your powers unjustly, do not cheat others,…” That combined with 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 says that some may be in a leadership position, a slave, or a ? and that they should follow God in that role, however this only brings about God’s kingdom through the faithfulness of the individual, not necessarily through the policy, plan or role itself.
God’s kingdom can be at times helped through policies and plans, as well as laws but it comes in and through people, not laws. It may be a fundamental problem that believers think the O.T. was a system where God brought His kingdom through laws (The Mosaic Law) versus a distinct people but that is what the N.T. clarified – God never intended the kingdom to be based on indifferent abstract law.
November 9th, 2012 at 2:02 pm
I would say that John the Baptist is an example of a prophetic voice speaking truth to power, as many OT prophets did as well. This goes back to the extremes mentioned earlier: should we commit to full-on political involvement or retreat into the hills? I think the answer is somewhere in between the two, but not a mixture of them. While John the Baptist was a forerunner to Jesus (not a “Christian”), I believe he goes about as far as Christ-followers should go today. This means we should speak truth to power in love, live by example in a counter-cultural community (proving that the way of Caesar is no longer needed), and call others out of Caesar’s kingdom into the Kingdom of God.
November 9th, 2012 at 3:04 pm
First, I would invite you to read my (short) blog, “Come Let Us Sing a Song.”
Second, you write, “If you’re a follower of Christ and you are in any way troubled or overjoyed by the outcome of the recent presidential auction, then you really need to spend some time reflecting on King Jesus…” But there is a time to be troubled. Certainly, there is time for mourning and being grieved. Sin brings us to this place. Our own sin and the sin in our midst produces a godly sorrow. We yearn for “Thy kingdom to come” precisely because it has not yet come. We abhor what is evil. And certainly we see evil in our world… and in our government.
Reflecting on the goodness of King Jesus is what comforts a troubled heart. My heart is troubled by “the outcome” and this is true precisely because I abhor what is evil. President Obama promotes policies (such as 53 million abortions) which are evil. The follower of Christ is certainly grieved over such radical policies… such evil.
But is there room for joy? There is room for the Christ-follower to be delighted in “the outcome.”If millions of babies were saved because of it, I would rejoice. If more people had access to healthcare, I would rejoice. If prosperity increased and relieved people from poverty, I would rejoice. Indeed, I would be “overjoyed.” This is true not because my hope is in the government, but because life, freedom, happiness are things of God’s kingdom. I rejoice in the Lord, knowing such blessing would be His grace.
To think otherwise one must think the government is demonic. But this simply is not true. Government is “for your good” (cf. Rom. 13, 1 Peter 2). Government opposes evil and praises good (at least this is its proper function). Certainly, Satan manipulates and deceives. But this is true of any organization – schools, businesses, etc. It is not that Satan is the acting CEO of government, it’s that he is the acting CEO of all the lost – “the prince who is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:1-3).
Of course, I know Satan claimed more than this. But basing any belief from the testimony of the father of lies plus the silence of Jesus does not seem plausible, especially since the government was not the point of the passage and especially in light of other passages teaching how government can be used for good.
I’ll leave Calvinism for another day.
November 9th, 2012 at 4:07 pm
Jared, thanks for sharing.
I certainly understand grieving in our hearts for evil in the world. But we do not mourn as those with no hope. That’s what I’m addressing here. If you need names of those who I believe are “troubled” beyond this lamenting of evil onto despair, I can give them to you. 🙂
I know that you are especially bothered by abortions in this country. I am equally appalled. The problem is in thinking that the issue should be addressed first and foremost in political fashion. Foremost because it wasn’t the way of Christ or the early church.
Here’s the thing… there is a great deal of ambiguity that goes into these issues. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, since there are strong indicators that the economy (poverty) has much to do with the number of abortions, you shouldn’t fault another believer who thinks the best way to address the issue is by voting for the candidate that plans to do something about the economy. My point is this, there is nothing distinctively Christian about voting against Obama and voting for Romney. If we can’t see that, I’m afraid we’ve been duped.
I’ve said this many times already. Romans 13 must be read as a literary unit with Romans 12 to get Paul’s full meaning. And I don’t base the idea that Satan manipulates, even has great power over, the kingdoms of the world simply on what he tells Jesus. But I still stand by my interpretation. I’m certainly not the only one who sees it that way.
Yes, leave Calvinism for another day. I’ve got to run. I’ve got a hot date tonight.