I’m a little disturbed, frankly, at the number of Christians who seem to think that having a strong presence in the government or the right lawmakers “on your side” is the way to make the church great. Or is it even to make the church great? Now that I think about it, it seems that what’s really in play is the idea that the ‘Christian ideal’ should somehow be a mark of strength. We think that we have a pretty good thing going, so we want to set it up as the standard.
I don’t remember Jesus printing campaign posters. Paul never ran for office. I don’t recall a time where Peter decided that the church needed to become a governing body. Philip wasn’t teleported to places where he could gain political influence. Our currency isn’t strength in ourselves. Remember Psalm 20?
7 Some nations boast of their chariots and horses,
but we boast in the name of the Lord our God.
8 Those nations will fall down and collapse,
but we will rise up and stand firm.
This is a command directive for the whole Christian enterprise. Put the Great Commission from Matthew 28 in there:
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Those things together say this to me: “Don’t build an army. Build a kingdom in people.”
Separated at birth
Let me make a turn for a minute. Remember the separation of church and state? In American history, it is a pretty big deal. The founding fathers put it in the First Amendment to the Constitution. It says this in Article VI: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” I think they set that up because they intended government to be government and church to be church. Mixing them together at all will always put you in dangerous territory.
Back beyond that, the people in the black hats who have Thanksgiving dinner with the Native Americans for the first time? Those people came here because religion was deeply ingrained in the government of England, and humans did nothing but screw that up. It was meant to be pure, a Christian ideal to be the driving force behind an entire country; it became tainted, and the results were groups of people splitting off because they just couldn’t stand to see what it had become. Some of them were so focused on purifying the ideal that they braved an ocean to go to a completely different continent and start over.
Why am I saying all that? Because we’re right back trying to put it together again. Christians form coalitions and lobby groups just like oil companies and industries. It’s a play at power, which is ironic considering we serve the creator of everything.
Our first order of business is love and our leader is a man who conquered death. What else are we going to accomplish?
The example of apparent failure
Strength is not our goal. Jesus was our example and he had a ministry that lasted only three years, then he was killed by politicians based on fabricated charges. Can you imagine that today? Some preacher that preached for three years, had thousands around him, then got wrapped up in some scandal which ended in his death? Didn’t have a place to be buried? Wrote nothing down? Had only his mom and one friend close to him at the end? The guy would last about ten minutes on the social media accounts of eleven surviving followers and then be passed over by the latest news from Kanye.
That’s not what happened, though. The Savior of the universe came here, and planted deep seeds in the hearts of a handful of people. Throw in the Holy Spirit, and you don’t get a new political party. You get an unstoppable body which is strong because it’s personal, and it’s powerful because it’s plugged directly into that same spirit. It’s not a power that can be caged or put in reserve. It’s not about us and it’s certainly not about government.
I think this might say it better than I can: