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Does Jesus Reign?

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I’ve been putting this off for a long time now, too long. I have a platform of which to reach, and hopefully inform. Hopefully, I’ve earned that by now. So here I go, delving into a topic I promised myself to never get involved with and never write on in this site…politics. Now to be fair, you aren’t going to find an endorsement. You are going to find a critique of where the church is in this season and why I think God is deeply, deeply grieved by his people’s actions. To begin however I would like to make it very clear what the purpose of this article is. The purpose of this article is not to lambaste either side, nor make either side feel as if they sit in some seat where they may scoff at the other side. It is an attempt to be the voice of Samuel, the voice of Isaiah, the voice of Jeremiah, and the voice of Christ himself to his covenant community. I have been confronted by the Holy Spirit in my prayers and in reading scripture and know that I cannot feign ignorance if I am disobedient. At this point to not write what I am about to write would be to ignore a clear command for the sake of keeping perceived peace. I hope that I succeed in this endeavor, but only time will tell. So, now that my disclaimer and intentions have been clearly stated, here we go.

Throughout these last two years Christians in this country have done some…interesting things. Both sides (liberal and conservative) have both acted admirably and despicably. Lately, I have only been seeing and experiencing the latter (especially if you bemoan the candidates we have). Now to be clear, I am not against Christians becoming involved in the political process, or with voting, if you feel so-called to enter into that kind of public service. But, I am against Christians placing their hope in the political process. In fact, I feel that the church has done something quite heinous in its dialogue amongst itself and with non believers that sends a message so antithetical to the gospel that at recognizing it I honestly feared for the church in this country. This is not an exaggeration, nor is it an overstatement; a very real, very angry, very jealous God looms over the church as she commits adultery with some even excusing that adultery with the scriptures themselves. It is embarrassing, infuriating, and inexcusable and it needs to stop once and for all.

In 1 Samuel 8 (yes, the whole chapter) we see a dialogue between God and Samuel where Israel has requested a king in Samuel’s old age and Samuel takes it hard (at this times judges lead Israel and prophets of God as their king was God himself as the judge working as his representative). God reassures Samuel that Israel is not rejecting Samuel, nor are they even dissatisfied with him, but that they are rejecting God as their king. God sends Samuel with a message letting Israel know that God will have him appoint a king, but that this king will take their possessions as he pleases and that he will use their sons for war, and their daughters’ workers. This king will take the best of all that they have for himself and that he will oppress the people. Samuel relays this message and the people still demand a king, and God gives them what they ask for. Even after a warning where God says that when they cry out against this king they wanted so much because of the weight of the oppression that he will not hear their cries, nor lift their burden. God is definitely a fan of tough love.

Why do I mention this? Well the reason for wanting a king was so that they could have someone champion their efforts, to have someone lead them. Does this sound at all familiar? The reasoning for many Christians on both sides of the aisle for voting for a candidate is because of how much they dislike the other candidate or because of supreme court justices. The logic being used here while sound is also extremely poor theology. Christians on either side look to their respective parties to champion their causes. On one side its religious liberty and pro-life, on the other it is racial, social, and societal justice. Each Christian aligns with whichever party supports the issues that they feel most important. This is where the first mistake is made. Every issue listed above, religious liberty, pro-life, social, racial, and societal justice are all equally important. By supporting one party over the other unquestioningly is to send a clear message that you feel certain issues are more important than others. Jesus both valued life, respected the perspectives of others (as long as said perspectives didn’t dehumanize people, ahem Pharisees), and sought out those that society ignored (the disabled), hated (the Samaritans), or cast out (lepers). Jesus showed that he valued all of these issues and for this reason alone, we should also value them all in the same fashion. Before continuing please read Isaiah 1 here.

Startling isn’t it? Within the text we see God disgusted with a people as they practice ceremony and celebrate holidays that he himself appointed and ordained. Why? Israel during this time was paying lip service to God. The festivals and ceremony performed were done in name and deed only but were not done with pureness of heart and good intentions. Israel was not interested in having a relationship with God, they were interested in appeasing him so that they could get what they wanted, namely his blessing. Again…is this sounding familiar yet? The American church has in many ways done this same exact thing. On Sunday, you will hear phrases like, “Jesus reigns” or “God is King”. The general reception of these statements results in anywhere from hearty applause to hooting, hollering, and amening (depending on how formal your services are). In a conversation regarding politics however, these statements are met with anything from jeers, to dismissals, to explaining the fact of the statement away. What does this mean?

It means simply this the church in this country has replaced Christ with its own government. Evangelicals claim that social justice churches have already done this and they are right, but it has taken me a while to recognize that the evangelical church has done the exact same thing. Where left leaning Christians may find that political issues like racial, and economic social justice as most important (and therefore support liberal leaning candidates), right leaning Christians find issues like religious liberty and pro-life stances as most important. Do you know whom each side turns to in resolving these issues, whom do they look to as the champion of their cause, as their leader, as the ones capable of making real significant changes? I can tell you one thing, neither side looks to Christ, or to the Gospel. Each side looks to their respective candidates as the “practical” solution to the issues they find problematic. This is an egregious error, it is adultery, it is profane, and it is wickedly vain. When we exclaim “Jesus reigns” are these mere words? Jesus, the king of all the universe, our savior and Lord HAS THIS. Our country might not survive a Trump or Clinton presidency, who cares? That is not our concern…do you understand? Jesus did not command his disciples to concern themselves with the politics of Rome, he commanded them to go out baptizing, and making disciples! Start listening…

Church, we need to stop (I mean all of us). We should not be pouring ANY money into causes that advocate our own personal interests or that push forward issues that we find most important. We are to preach the gospel. We are to tell people about Jesus, we are to love EVERYONE (the sick, disabled, gay, transsexual, transgender, hardcore atheist, racist, self-righteous suburbanite to name a few) in the exact same fashion that we love ourselves. If you feel lead to give to something, you better be sure that your resources are going towards spreading the gospel and loving on people while doing so. Paying for lobbyists, lawyers, and so on so that you can have your country the way you like it isn’t Christian, it is American. You see, while some would argue that we have a right to vote in this country and since we have that right we must exercise it, they fail to recognize that we have a responsibility to the kingdom of heaven first and foremost.

In this election it is better, no it is right, to not be an American. It is better to get on your knees in front of your king and beg for forgiveness, to plead for those who do not know him, and to ask for his provision. Saints, Satan has wrapped us up in this nonsense long enough…isn’t it time that we get to it? Isn’t it time that we truly put preaching the gospel as the most and only important issue? Isn’t it time that we live out our kingdom responsibilities instead of being worried about protecting our American rights? Enough is enough. God is tired of your foolish prayers, he is tired of your “save Christmas campaigns”, he is tired of your attempt to force a fallen evil world to look like us. They are not us, they can never be us, not without Christ. And that is the major rub here…that you are attempting to exclude Christ from this process. If you want to reduce abortion or eliminate it, preach the gospel; if you want to reduce or eliminate racism, preach the gospel; if you want to protect Christian Americans from having to provide a service they don’t agree with, preach the gospel!!! Putting Christ at the center, pointing to him as the only answer IS the most practical way that we change this country and our world for the better.

So I urge you, I implore you; stay home on election day, devote yourself to prayer and fasting. The church should not be sullying her hands with the filth presented this year. The church cannot choose between a racist, misogynistic, and habitually oppressive man and a traitorous, evil woman. There is no such thing as a “lesser evil”. There is only evil and good…know that if you chose an evil, that you still chose evil. It is not better to look at porn and pleasure yourself than it is to fornicate with a hooker on the street. Both are evil and we should participate in neither. Ultimately, the choice is up to you…I pray that you do the right thing, that you begin to believe again that Christ is the first and only answer, that he is the most practical answer. Begin to truly believe that Jesus truly does reign and start to live your life like you believe it. Peace and blessings, and as always, thank you for reading.

 

With Love in Christ

Justin

2 Comments »

  1. I found your blog after reading your articles for “The Lab,” which I have thoroughly enjoyed, so I sampled some of your blogs and ran across this one from two years ago. You have two bloggers who like this post, but no comments. Since issues four years later are much the same, I decided to say a few words to challenge your thinking. In fact, I hope you have already changed your way of thinking.
    Your point about substituting politicians for our kings and our agendas in place of Christ is spot on. Your analysis and application is problematic. To advise Christians to stay home and not sully themselves in the political process, i.e., voting, is dangerously narrow minded. You seem to equate voting with losing sight of our priority, the kingdom of God. You are using a false argument. Candidates are evil, politics are evil, because they reject Christ as king, therefore, stay home, because choosing a lesser evil is still choosing evil.. My view is that Paul commands us to expose (reprove, in some translations) works of darkness in Eph 5. That applies to the public square as well as in our churches.We see John the Baptist and Jesus do this with Herod, a dangerous thing to do in those days. Many Christians ignorantly involve themselves in the political process unaware they are trusting in man rather than God. However, many also are involved in the political system imitating Paul’s appeal to Caesar as an opportunity to advance the kingdom of God. That is how I see my voting privilege. Which politicians, or which party platform will least hinder the spread of the gospel and the advancement of the kingdom of God? If there is a distinct enough difference, then I am sinning by not doing what I can to enable that possibility to happen.
    Is Jesus ruling now? Of course He is, whether we live in a free society like America or in China where persecution against Christians comes and goes according to the whims of the rulers. Was Christ reigning in the days of the apostles? Of course, and I find it very interesting that He told the Twelve and later, Paul, that they must stand before kings and governors as Christ’s witnesses. Was it only because Jesus wanted them to hear the good news, too, so they might be saved? How were the Apostles to be Christ’s witnesses before these pagan rulers? Might it have been to inform them that there is One who is ruler over them, and that they will be held accountable to Christ the King in how they administer the kingdoms He had allow them to rule?
    As Christians in America we enjoy dual citizenship. Paul did not think it improper to use his Roman citizenship to advance his personal cause of a fair trial resulting, he would hope, in freedom and an audience with Caesar, fulfilling Christ’s command to stand before kings and governors. Some of us have that type of mentality. We cast our vote, but our hope is in God. Whether our nation is blessed or cursed, our hope is in Christ. Whether we have more or less freedom to preach the gospel, we still preach the gospel and hope in God. We are ambassadors of Christ, and as His ambassadors we represent the King of all nations offering terms of surrender. We command kings and governors, princes and potentates to bow the knee now, to Christ and be blessed, or face the wrath to come if they do not. Either way, every knee will bow. Christ rules over every activity of life. There is no aspect of life that is outside the Lordship of Christ the King. Politics is not a neutral zone exempt from the scrutiny of our Lord.
    You have heard the saying, “all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” Just look at Amish history. They were persecuted all throughout Western Europe fleeing from country to country seeking shelter, because their religious beliefs forbade them from political involvement and self defense. Finally, they came to America, a gracious country who guaranteed their religious liberty and practice. In whom do they put their trust? And most of them do not vote. If America falls where will they go? Most likely a footnote in history. It is the Christian community that has the answers for all nations, in all areas of life, that is if we really believe. .

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  2. I am going to do my best to take this piece by piece and interact with it, so bear with me.

    “I found your blog after reading your articles for “The Lab,” which I have thoroughly enjoyed, so I sampled some of your blogs and ran across this one from two years ago. You have two bloggers who like this post, but no comments. Since issues four years later are much the same, I decided to say a few words to challenge your thinking. In fact, I hope you have already changed your way of thinking.”

    -Thank you for reading. I hope you continue enjoying the series. As for challenging my thinking here, well I always welcome it. I certainly hold no special revelation from God regarding the issues above and was speaking from a place of exhaustion and frustration. Has my way of thinking changed…yes but not likely in the manner that you’d like (that is based on the interaction that you have provided so far).

    “Your point about substituting politicians for our kings and our agendas in place of Christ is spot on. Your analysis and application is problematic. To advise Christians to stay home and not sully themselves in the political process, i.e., voting, is dangerously narrow minded. You seem to equate voting with losing sight of our priority, the kingdom of God. You are using a false argument. Candidates are evil, politics are evil, because they reject Christ as king, therefore, stay home, because choosing a lesser evil is still choosing evil..”

    -I think it’s important to note that at the beginning of my article I made it clear that I wasn’t putting damning voting for all time at any time. I was encouraging Christians to refrain during that election as it sullied Christ with the filth on each candidate’s hands. Both were unrepentant, arrogant, evil people and I believe that to the bottom of my being. The situation was unique which resulted in my unique call for the church to exercise its responsibility to Christ’s name over their right to vote. My argument would only be false if it was general, it was not, it was a specific call for the church to not participate in the 2016 election.

    “My view is that Paul commands us to expose (reprove, in some translations) works of darkness in Eph 5. That applies to the public square as well as in our churches. We see John the Baptist and Jesus do this with Herod, a dangerous thing to do in those days. Many Christians ignorantly involve themselves in the political process unaware they are trusting in man rather than God. However, many also are involved in the political system imitating Paul’s appeal to Caesar as an opportunity to advance the kingdom of God. That is how I see my voting privilege. Which politicians, or which party platform will least hinder the spread of the gospel and the advancement of the kingdom of God? If there is a distinct enough difference, then I am sinning by not doing what I can to enable that possibility to happen.”

    -Ephesians 5:6-18 is actually an indictment on Christians who participated in the 2016 election…no an excuse to be a part of it. They were deceived with empty words and because of this God’s wrath has come (I give you 2020). We are then encouraged NOT to partake with them as we were as they are but are now something else. Paul then references the fruit of the light (no doubt referencing his earlier writing to the Galatians that had already been in circulation). We are again commanded not to participate in deeds of darkness but rather expose them. This does not mean join the less dark side…it means joining neither side and speaking prophetically to both sides as neither of them comes from light.

    -Paul’s appeal to Caesar was an attempt to evangelize the emperor himself. It was not an exercise in civic rights for the sake of civic rights. It was the use of civic right so that the gospel may be presented to a well-insulated individual that needed Jesus more than most.

    -Neither party advances…in fact both hinder in their own ways and prevent the church from being faithful to her true calling as a kingdom here but not yet fully here. Neither party advances the gospel in that one seeks to preserve religious liberty (which if we’re honest is NOT a concern of God’s Kingdom) and preserve life in the womb, while the other seemingly likes to force secular practice into religious avenues and kill those they deem “not human enough”. The other side however values the poor, the broken, the disabled, and disenfranchised while the other doesn’t seem to see a problem with that as long as it doesn’t get in the way of their right to carry a firearm and worship where they please whenever they please. At heart, both agendas are self-serving and filled with darkness.

    “Is Jesus ruling now? Of course He is, whether we live in a free society like America or in China where persecution against Christians comes and goes according to the whims of the rulers. Was Christ reigning in the days of the apostles? Of course, and I find it very interesting that He told the Twelve and later, Paul, that they must stand before kings and governors as Christ’s witnesses. Was it only because Jesus wanted them to hear the good news, too, so they might be saved? How were the Apostles to be Christ’s witnesses before these pagan rulers? Might it have been to inform them that there is One who is ruler over them, and that they will be held accountable to Christ the King in how they administer the kingdoms He had allow them to rule?”

    -Yes that is precisely why…HOWEVER, that is NOT what we are doing in this country. The twelve and Paul rebuked their sin…they never ever attempted to make an argument as to why one ruler wasn’t as evil as another ruler. The Roman Christians during the fall of Rome did not decide to rise up against their fellow Romans because the Visigoths and Ostrogoth’s rulers were better (even though they were). The point I am making is that we do not work with the system…we work above it. Our King is King overall…and not one vote is cast they he has not predetermined. His rule and sovereignty are absolute.

    “As Christians in America we enjoy dual citizenship. Paul did not think it improper to use his Roman citizenship to advance his personal cause of a fair trial resulting, he would hope, in freedom and an audience with Caesar, fulfilling Christ’s command to stand before kings and governors. Some of us have that type of mentality. We cast our vote, but our hope is in God. Whether our nation is blessed or cursed, our hope is in Christ. Whether we have more or less freedom to preach the gospel, we still preach the gospel and hope in God. We are ambassadors of Christ, and as His ambassadors we represent the King of all nations offering terms of surrender. We command kings and governors, princes and potentates to bow the knee now, to Christ and be blessed, or face the wrath to come if they do not. Either way, every knee will bow. Christ rules over every activity of life. There is no aspect of life that is outside the Lordship of Christ the King. Politics is not a neutral zone exempt from the scrutiny of our Lord.”

    -Nothing stated here I disagree with (well Paul’s stated reason for requesting an appeal with caesar but I’ve already explained that) but I fear you have contradicted yourself a bit. We command kings, governors, and rulers…but that command is one of absoluteness. Casting a vote is the casting of an opinion. Standing in front of rulers as an ambassador of Christ we stand as people in absolute authority over those rulers commanding them to repentance and threatening the wrath of God as the expense for disobedience. I never stated politics was neutral…I do believe I made it quite clear that it is truly and exclusively His for scrutiny.

    “You have heard the saying, “all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” Just look at Amish history. They were persecuted all throughout Western Europe fleeing from country to country seeking shelter, because their religious beliefs forbade them from political involvement and self defense. Finally, they came to America, a gracious country who guaranteed their religious liberty and practice. In whom do they put their trust? And most of them do not vote. If America falls where will they go? Most likely a footnote in history. It is the Christian community that has the answers for all nations, in all areas of life, that is if we really believe. .”

    -As stated above in my original post when making clear my intentions, I am in no way stating that Christians should never vote. What I am saying is that there are times where voting for a candidate damages the name of Christ and our witness to the lost (many of which exist on one side of the aisle than the other). At that time we have a responsibility to put the pen down and go love our neighbor. It is difficult to do that when you vote for a candidate that takes delight and pleasure in excluding, dehumanizing people who disagree with them. Evil cannot prevail…its death is written…we are called to be prophets to preach the gospel. We are not called to the development of a theocratic government where we attempt to legalize people into the faith.

    I hope I have interacted adequately. I will reveal that I have also decided to abstain from voting in this election as well as again I fear a vote on either side sullies Christ. This is not to say I am waiting for a perfect politician but is to say that neither man has exhibited they possess the character to govern justly (seeing that both men have used the power of their office in advantageous and wicked ways). Again, let me make this very clear, I am not against voting…I am against voting when it sullies Christ and hinders our witness to the lost. In reality, this is a simple concept and a reality that Christians need to submit to. When you chose your right to vote over your responsibility to chose light…you’ve proven where your hope is…

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