I was going for a walk the other day and had this thought – Christians can learn from political parties. It’s amazing what we think about while walking our furry friends. Like Donnie, the little guy below. I know, it sounds crazy. Especially from someone who keeps pointing out that politics and religion really shouldn’t be mixed. And neither should government and religion. And yet the question, what can Christians learn from political parties, has a simple answer. A lot. There are so many things we can learn.
One thing we can learn, as Donnie illustrates, is to chill. American politics these days, as in other countries, is brutal. Life and death, given the Capitol riot in DC. It’s all-consuming. And it’s full of emotion.
Christianity shares some of those qualities. Even some that it shouldn’t. For instance, chilling. There are times to chill and times to be active. Times to listen and times to act. It’s also life and death, although the most important life and death scenario is between this life and the next. There shouldn’t be any rioting. But it should be all-consuming. And full of emotion. However, another huge difference should be that while politics is full of hatred, Christianity should be all about love.
What can Christians learn from political parties?
There are many ideas and concerns that Christianity and politics have in common. Abortion. Care for the poor. Religious freedom. And so many more.
The day after that walk, I “happened” to read something called, Because We Are Called to Counter Culture: In a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Persecution, Abortion, Orphans, and Pornography, by David Platt. Platt, D. (2015). Because we are called to counter culture: in a world of poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, immigration, persecution, abortion, orphans, and pornography. Carol Stream, … Continue reading
The table of contents contains the items below:
Poverty Abortion Orphans and Widows Sex Slavery Marriage Sexual Morality Ethnicity Religious Liberty Unreached People Groups
Think about it. About the various topics in the title and the table of contents. All are concerns of Christianity. Maybe not of Christians, but certainly of Jesus, the namesake of Christianity. And so is the idea of countering popular culture.
These same things come up in politics. Some by one party more than another. But always with an eye to government control. People in control. Not God. And so, when they get involved, political parties always compromise what Christian beliefs they may hold in order to accomplish political goals in the government.
So what can Christians learn from political parties? Quite a bit.
And the ones who pay the price for those compromises are us. The citizens. Christian and non-Christian alike. It’s always been that way. Just like God said it would, way back in Genesis.
1Sa 8:1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
1Sa 8:4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
1Sa 8:6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”
1Sa 8:10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day. ”
1Sa 8:19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
1Sa 8:21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go back to his town.”
If anything, today’s governments are way beyond what God warned the people about back then. Yes, one-tenth was the common amount to take at that time. Now, the government takes many tenths of our income in the form of various taxes and fees. We certainly have wars. And the government leaders live like they’re in a world with a blank check for their own use.
Yes, that’s the price we pay for wanting our own leaders instead of God.
While Christians can learn from political parties, it seems that we don’t.
And what’s maybe even worse today, we know all this, we’ve seen it in place for thousands of years, and yet we haven’t changed. Not only that, but now we turn to the government for things that even the Hebrew people and the Christians in the Bible turned to God for. We’ve turned away from God as our leader for pretty much everything. Except for, of course, a parking space and for our favorite sports team to win.
It’s way past time that we learn from the Bible we claim to treasure as our Scripture. And one way to do that is to look at the things we’ve given over to the government, to our political leaders, and see how the Bible, Christianity in particular, have a better answer. An answer that is grown of love rather than one that’s full of hatred. An answer that’s one of cooperation between Christians, led by God – rather than one where Christians are divided against each other because we think the others don’t know God as well as we do.
As if any of us really truly could know God. We read what He wants us to know of Himself. But then we make up the rest, in a vain attempt to mold God into our image, when we should be grateful for what He has revealed and just used that to guide our lives.
I don’t know why we keep turning to the government instead of God. But we do. We know the devil that’s in the government. And there is that saying that “the devil we know is better than the devil we don’t know”. But it’s time to realize that saying does not apply here! God isn’t a devil. God is the One who promised to care for us. The One we turned away from. But also the One waiting for us to return.
Remember what Jesus said to the Jewish people in His time on earth. It’s at the end of a section the NIV calls The Seven Woes. It’s the alternative to what the Jewish leaders, effectively the human government over the Jewish people at the time. While reading, notice that the first 36 verses are directed at the Jewish leaders. The last three are the way it could have been.
23:1-7 pp — Mk 12:38, 39; Lk 20:45, 46
23:37-39 pp — Lk 13:34, 35
Mt 23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
Mt 23:5 “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’
Mt 23:8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Mt 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
[Mt 23:14 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.”] Is not included in the NIV, but is in some other translations. It would, of course, make eight woes. New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Mt 23:14). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
Mt 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
Mt 23:16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
Mt 23:23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
Mt 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Mt 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Mt 23:29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!
Mt 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.
Mt 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’’”
So what do we want?
Do we want to be the victims of our leaders, with all those woes? And yes, I do mean the Christian leaders who allow and even encourage us to turn the things of God over to the government.
Or do we want to be protected by Jesus, as the hen protects her children?
Once more, what can Christians learn from political parties? Even though the answer really is “a lot”, we seem to be learning all the wrong lessons.
While you’re considering that, also remember something else Jesus said.
22:15-22 pp — Mk 12:13-17; Lk 20:20-26
Mt 22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Mt 22:18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
Mt 22:21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Mt 22:22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
Yes, we tend to look at this as being about taxes. But it’s about so much more.
… and to God what is God’s.
Yes – give to God what is God’s. All those things that Jesus gave us to do, living a life of love for all – those are God’s things. We weren’t supposed to give them to Caesar. And we aren’t supposed to give them to our government today either. They are for God. To be done by His Church. Christians. Us.
Conclusion – What can Christians learn from political parties?
As I said, Christians can learn a lot from political parties. Oftentimes, maybe what to do, but certainly not the way to do them.
After all, it doesn’t matter if Christians are taking a “Biblical” approach to an issue. And yes, I put “Biblical” in quotes for a reason. It’s because when our solution is to go to the government, and / or to act in a way that isn’t loving – it’s also not truly Biblical.
We turn people off. They reject our solutions. But even worse, they reject Jesus’ offer of salvation because we failed to act in a manner consistent with what Jesus taught.
This article originally appeared on godversusreligion.com
|↑1||Platt, D. (2015). Because we are called to counter culture: in a world of poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, immigration, persecution, abortion, orphans, and pornography. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.|
|↑2||New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Mt 23:14). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.|