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“When we talk politics, we moralize. When we talk morality, we politicize.” ~ Ravi Zacharias
This is one of the most difficult blog series I could ever imagine writing. When I was younger, I recall a relative telling me to never discuss religion or politics. They are too divisive and too dangerous.
And yet, here we are…
Sure, these topics are massive minefields to maneuver. No matter how carefully you dissect them, something always gets cut. Someone is always hurt, offended, disgusted, or a host of other emotions.
So is silence our single selection? Don’t discuss the most important personal, national, global, and eternal issues of our lives?
No way. The “ostrich outlook” has never suited me. So let’s get our heads out of the dirt and look to the hills.
We began this journey (see HOPE4Politics pt 1) by asking the question, “What would God have us do, here and now?” Donalt Trump is America’s 45th president and tensions are high.
Because before we know it, the worst versions of ourselves manifest and we’ve quickly made the issues about something else. My HOPE in HOPE4Politics pt 1 was that we can rise above our perspectives and feelings while embracing a more profitable tone and approach. These issues are far too important to reduce them into soapboxes.
“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God – it changes me.” ~ quote from Shadowlands
This was a general and broad approach.
Here we saw Paul pleading for Christ-followers to be praying for all people, even those in civil leadership. And as strange or repugnant as it seems, praying for these individuals is good and pleasing to God who will in turn grant us lives of peace, godliness, and dignity. And the TKO in all of this is that my prayer for national leaders is actually connected to the successful spread of the gospel!
In this entry, we will make a transition from praying about politics to biblically engaging politics. To do so, we will focus upon a foundation known as worldview.
You see, the problem with praying sometimes is that it can become a convenient cover for passivity, fear, laziness, and a host of other vise grips. Prayer is essential, but it is only the starting point. God is active in our world and He’s desiring for us to join Him.
Transitioning to worldview is key because our view of our world is the lens through which we see everything. Furthermore, it the starting place which sets the trajectory on how we think and approach everything!
Our thoughts, presuppositions, feelings and actions stem from here.
As a Christ-follower, I am seeking a worldview rooted in the authority and applicability of Scripture. This must be my foundation.
Now, let’s be honest. When contemplating a political issue, the starting place for many of us is social media, the news media, our emotions, or perhaps our experiences.
Did you catch that? Our foundation and filter for life’s most important issues is often a fallen, finite medium that often manufactures fanaticism and fraud.
We must transcend this hamster wheel!
Is there biblical worldview for the sphere of politics? If so, what is it and where do we find it? Aren’t God and government supposed to be separated?
All great and necessary inquiries.
As a follower of Christ, I’m bound to the Scriptures for guidance. Not CNN, Breitbart, or the host of other innumberable voices emanating from this world. I need something transcedent to the bickering noise.
Hopefully that’s no suprise to anyone…If it is, I would like to apologize on behalf of the Christians who gave you the impression that the Bible is nothing more than an ancient relic, fit for only privatized, personal feel-goods.
Regarding the separation of God and government, although this blog entry is not seeking to engage this debate, I personally believe that a quick glance at Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists resolves that tension.
And even if we still land on opposite ends of the separation conversation, I do not subscribe to the underlying belief that faith should be privatized. The question, “Can we legislate morality?” is a non sequitur in my humble opinion. The real question is, “Which morality will be legislated?”, for all laws stem from a philosophy.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the Bible is not a political treatise. And that’s fine. This does not mean that it is silent on this topic. Whatever it does not address specifically, it does address principally.
So with that, let’s dive in by continuing to examine the topic of politics through the lens of the Scriptures. Today’s set of verses are perhaps the most commonly used section of Scripture for this topic.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. ~ Romans 13:1-7
Whoa! And I thought the last scripture we looked at was tough!
If applied to our context today, this is what Paul seems to be saying:
God established Donald Trump as America’s 45th president. To resist him is to resist God and to incur judgment. He (the Donald) is currently God’s servant and minister in this sphere.
Long, awkward pause…
Is it me, or does this just feel wrong. I have to be missing something! Or, dare I say that Paul was missing something?! This certainly cannot be intended to refer to a leader like Trump, right? There must be more than meets these eyes.
More on this in the next post…
Sorry for the cliffhanger, but this is a mammoth of a Scripture and so is this blog entry! But here are some handles for our suspense.
First, I encourage you to read Romans 12, all of it. And read all of Romans 13 while you’re at it. As mentioned in the previous post, we must discover what preceded this pericope to unpack it’s precise point. A text without it’s context is nothing but a pretext.
This passage, if not understood correctly, can be very dangerous and misleading, perhaps even deadly if found within the wrong hands and hearts.
Second, pray! Just because this is HOPE4Politics pt 3 doesn’t mean that HOPE4Politics pt 1 is irrelevant now.
In closing, aside from engaging the topic of politics, one of my goals is to also illustrate that we don’t need to hide from any issues or Scripture verses. This is certainly an intimidating topic, but Goliath will not steer this conversation.
My relative, although well-intentioned, restricted herself to the shallow things of life. As much as I enjoy discussing sports, work, and the weather, my heart cries for far more!
Sure, there’s plenty of uncomfortable, awkward, mind-bending details before us, but I believe that the greater the risk, the greater the reward.
God has something for us here, but we have to be willing to mine out the gems He has in this cave.
Keep the HOPE, Hipsters!