Dear members and friends of VP,
I write this Voice article to talk about our Christian response to the angry and judgmental political climate that is dominating our news. I have, from the pulpit, encouraged a positive attitude based upon the balance of power represented by the Executive, the Legislative and Judiciary Branches who cooperate in limiting the autonomous power of individual branches. Nevertheless, there are a huge number of Americans who are discouraged and fearful for our future. More discouraging is that many people are arguing that their anger and hatred are justified by the President’s posture toward managing the good of America and truth. However, Christians are called to reflect a life committed to trusting God in the midst of all circumstances and treating all people with grace and kindness.
Let me outline a few thoughts that inform our call to Christ-likeness in the midst of our present political changes.
- Jesus deliberately avoided judging issues related to political authority. This does not mean he would not have voted if he were living as an American in our time. It simply means that…
- Jesus had priorities that were more important than criticizing political policies. For instance, taxation was a huge issue to the Jews who were being overtaxed by the Romans. Jesus appealed to the fact that the monetary exchange being used by the Jews was created by the Romans and instructed them to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Luke 20:25). He refused to judge the injustice and encouraged compliance.
- Jesus stressed throughout His ministry a focus upon a political system in which God was in control in spite of the political entities controlling the affairs of man. Pilate confronted Jesus because He had been accused of being a political activist challenging the authority of Rome. Jesus responded “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36). It is interesting that Jesus encouraged abstaining from a fight for His life when political and religious leaders were negotiating the value of his life. Our present political changes are far less important than was the life of Jesus.
- Jesus promised blessing for people who exemplified the “Christ-like” character and values of the Kingdom of God.
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth…
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy…
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”. (Mat. 5:3-10)
Jesus promised hope for those who sought God’s ways in spite of the ways of man.
- Jesus encouraged focus upon the need for God’s involvement in the affairs of this world.
“Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.” (Mat. 6:9-10)
Jesus did not encourage hope in the politics of men.
- Jesus did encourage love for the people we least respect in this life.
”But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Mat. 5:44-45)
It is obvious that Jesus wants us involved in this life as Christ-like advocates of a Kingdom that is unlike the kingdoms of man. As advocates of this kingdom and followers of Christ, our commitment is proved when the going gets tough. I would say the going is tough right now in America.
I would also say our commitment to honoring the teachings of Jesus is being proved by our response. We have an opportunity to be witnesses of the gospel in times like these. Our marching orders are simple.
- Pray for our leaders! “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority (II Timothy 2:1-4).
- Display respect for our government undergirded by confidence in the fact that God establishes and removes leaders according to His will. “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God.” (Romans 13:1)
- Determine to be loving and kind to everyone regardless of their beliefs or views! “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing… being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (I Peter 3:8-16).
My exhortation to the brethren of Valley Park Church is that we prove ourselves above concern for a future that is uncontrolled by God. The truth is, God’s will is being accomplished even when we do not see it. We trust Him for the future. Until He returns we are to love, show kindness and invite people to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us be “light” in a time of discouragement. God is in control.
Valley Park Church