I’m going to do what I can to not beat around the bush. I am going to make some of you mad. I realize that. This is going to be a hard post for some of you to read, and it has been a harsh realization for me.
Let’s get something straight: I love my country. I support any institution that furthers the work of God in this world, even if they don’t know that is what they are doing (and I realize that our country doesn’t always further the work of God in this world). However, recently I have been disillusioned (for lack of a better term) regarding our faith and it’s relationship with America and any political institution.
Politics is the worst thing to ever happen to Christianity, or any religion for that matter.
Ever since the recognition of Christianity as the national religion of Rome in AD 313 by the Emperor Constantine, Christianity has been terribly corrupted by national politics.
I love my religion. I love God. I love that God sent His only Son, Jesus, to His creation to die on the cross for our sins, for my sins. However, I don’t love that religion is involved with politics, even if it is involved marginally.
Many Christians and Old Testament Scholars are familiar with the passage in 1 Samuel when the Israelites demanded a king like the other nations. They were upset with Samuel’s sons because they were terrible judges and Samuel was old and unable to lead effectively. So, they demanded that they be given a king over them (1 Samuel 8:1-22). Samuel was upset, which is understandable. He felt that the people were rejecting Samuel as leader. What was God’s response?
“Go ahead and do what they’re asking. They are not rejecting you. They’ve rejected me as their King…But warn them of what they’re in for. Tell them the way kings operate, just what they’re likely to get from a king.” (vv. 7-9; The Message).
The Israelites were rejecting God as they’re King. Samuel warned them what they were in for.
“This is the way the kind of king you’re talking about operates. He’ll take your sons and make soldiers of them-chariotry, cavalry, infantry, regimented in battalions and squadrons. He’ll put some to forced labor on his farms, plowing and harvesting, and other to making either weapons of war or chariots in which he can ride in luxury. He’ll put your daughters to work as beauticians and waitresses and cooks. He’ll conscript your best fields, vineyards, and orchards and hand them over to his special friends. He’ll tax your harvests and vintage to support his extensive bureaucracy. Your prize workers and best animals he’ll take for his own use. He’ll lay a tax on your flocks and you’ll end up no better than slaves. The day will come when you will cry in desperation because of this king you so much want for yourselves. But don’t expect God to answer” (vv.10-18).
Does this type of behavior sound familiar? Presidents, perhaps?
They still wanted that king, and they got it, and ever since they were given their king, Israel went downhill. They suffered famine, dangers, civil war, international war, division, and they ended up with two different kingdoms (Israel and Judah) and eventually were taken over by the Romans.
When the Romans were ruling Israel, the people still rejected God. They turned to serve the Romans, unwillingly, but they served them. Many Jews turned to the Romans for money and protection. Those that didn’t join the Romans fought vigorously for Jewish rule again. The Zealots, a radical group of Jews who were responsible for riots in the streets and the murder of Roman soldiers, are a good example of this. Political corruption ran unchecked in the Temples as well. No one dared question the Pharisees or the Sadducees for fear of excommunication, expulsion from the community. And no one even thought about going against the Priests.
Politics has forever been the death of religion, from the Creation of the world to present day politics and America. I constantly hear about the political agenda of the Church. People are always wondering how “Christian ideals” can be fed into the government and make this a “Christian nation” like it was when America was founded. But that’s not going to happen, because this is not a “Christian nation”. It never was, and it never will be (but that’s for another day and time).
We live in a country that has made us as Christians way too comfortable. America’s constitution is all about religious tolerance. The First Amendment gives us the right to practice whatever religion we like without fear of government interference or persecution.
Now, to most people that’s a great thing. We can freely be Christian without government persecution! Other religions can worship here as well without government persecution: Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and many others. And they also can do it without persecution from the government (though it took a lot of them time to acquire governmental recognition).
To me, religious freedom is a bad thing for Christians. And this is why: it has made us lazy. We are no longer afraid to live a full life to Christ. We freely sit in our Churches and attend services. We hold prayer meetings. We proudly display our faith, but we don’t live it. Sure, we go out and attend peace rallies on hot button issues. We speak out against political institutions that are hurting the Church. We protest abortion clinics, gay marriages, military functions and many other events and institutions we are against. But that is not Christian.
These actions are all protected under the First Amendment. But again, they are not Christian.
I’ve scoured the Old and New Testament. I have found nothing, and I mean NOTHING, that says that it is the Christian’s right and duty to protest their government. In fact, I find the exact opposite. I find Paul telling us to obey the government we are under, because the government and governmental leaders are put there by God. They are His agents for furthering His kingdom, whether they realize it or not (Romans 13:1-7). I even find Jesus, when asked if the Jewish people should pay taxes to Caesar, telling the people to “Render unto Caesar’s what is Caesar’s” (Mark 12:17). But there is nothing that says that we should protest the government. Our constitution, our “religious freedom” is the death of our faith, and until we realize that, until we start living the life God intended us to live in Christ, then Christianity will just become another faith strangled by Satan and he has his victory here.
This is my call to all of you: acknowledge God as your King, your President. Pay your taxes, respect your government, and pray for your leaders. Stop the mindless protesting because you are giving Christianity a horrible name. Live a life of Christ, which does not involve political involvement or protesting, but rather involves faith, justice, righteousness, and love. This government, any government, is not loving. God is your King. Jesus is your President. Acknowledge Him as such and live your life under your government, whatever it may be. Until the government starts to throw us in jail for living a powerful life of Christ, we are doing it all wrong.
For more information on Jesus as President, read Shaine Claiborne’s text “Jesus for President”. It is a great read, and though I do not agree on everything Shaine has to say, I acknowledge him as a great Christian thinker and pioneer.