Jeremiah wrote two of the saddest books in the Bible, the book that goes by his name, Jeremiah, and Lamentations. Why? Jeremiah prophesied the grisly, merciless destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. Moreover, he lived to see the city destroyed. And so he cried.
Jeremiah 20:7-9 Good News Translation (GNT)
7 Lord, you have deceived me,
and I was deceived.
You are stronger than I am,
and you have overpowered me.
Everyone makes fun of me;
they laugh at me all day long.
8 Whenever I speak, I have to cry out
and shout, “Violence! Destruction!”
Lord, I am ridiculed and scorned all the time
because I proclaim your message.
9 But when I say, “I will forget the Lord
and no longer speak in his name,”
then your message is like a fire
burning deep within me.
I try my best to hold it in,
but can no longer keep it back.
Why was Jeremiah so determined in spite of himself to speak the Word of the Lord? He loved God, and he loved his People.
Unlike Jeremiah, Christian political activists are not prophets. Still, using His Bible we try to give out the Word of God to our neighbors. Consider the causes the Prince William-Manassas Family Alliance advocates (see GETTING READY FOR NOVEMBER — PART 3).
We strive to promote a Biblical viewpoint with respect to these issues. What do we do? We explain our beliefs and promote public awareness of where the candidates stand with respect to the issues that most affect the family.
We do not support or endorse candidates; we provide local area Christian churches with candidate and election information. We encourage our Christian neighbors to vote, and we pray they will choose wisely. We encourage our fellow citizens to consider what the Bible says, and we encourage them to vote in accordance with the wisdom it imparts.
Unfortunately, like Jeremiah, we don’t always convince our Christian neighbors to vote and to vote as they believe the God of the Bible would have them vote. Why?
- Politics can be divisive. So, we want to separate our Christian beliefs from our political beliefs. Therefore, many churches want nothing to do with politics and refuse to have anything to do with organizations that have a political purpose.
- For decades we have failed to inculcate Christian beliefs into our children. Therefore, many voters don’t even take the Bible seriously enough to read it.
- Christians want to see themselves as peacemakers. Supposedly, taking a partisan position on the issues makes it impossible to serve as neutral arbiters.
When we try to separate our Christian churches from politics, we exhibit a profound naivete. Consider the words of Jesus Christ as He prayed to His Father.
John 17:13-21 Good News Translation (GNT)
13 And now I am coming to you, and I say these things in the world so that they might have my joy in their hearts in all its fullness. 14 I gave them your message, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but I do ask you to keep them safe from the Evil One. 16 Just as I do not belong to the world, they do not belong to the world. 17 Dedicate them to yourself by means of the truth; your word is truth. 18 I sent them into the world, just as you sent me into the world. 19 And for their sake I dedicate myself to you, in order that they, too, may be truly dedicated to you.
20 “I pray not only for them, but also for those who believe in me because of their message. 21 I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me.
Jesus did not take us out of the world. He sends us into the world to spread His Gospel, to teach people to choose Christ. When we choose Christ, the world becomes our mission field, where Christ has called upon us to spread His Gospel. In fact, the success of our constitutional republic has always depended upon each of us practicing the teachings of the Bible and exhibiting a loving concern for our family, friends and neighbors. Didn’t Jesus call upon us to be salt and light, to shine as a city set on a hill.
When we call the United States a Christian nation, what do most of us mean? Are we a nation of priests? We should be, but few of us behave as priests. In practice, it just means that many of us are unashamed to want to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Instead of first asking what our country can do for us, we know we should first ask what we can do for our country.
What happens when Christian churches refuse to engage in politics? Instead of Christians changing the world, we allow the world to define and change us.
Contemplate what politics involves, what we create political systems to do. We use politics to define how individuals work together to form and operate in communities. When Christian churches refuses to engage in politics, they surrender their role in the communities around them. Eventually, because they no longer have any material significance, they also surrender the community formed by the church itself. When its members (supposedly, each part of the Body of Christ) no longer have a material function, what need is there for a Christian church? What is the Body of Christ suppose to do?
Because Christians have surrendered their role in politics, our churches have become social clubs. As Christians, we have little influence on the schools our children attend and almost no influence on the mass media. Therefore, we don’t have either the time or the tools to inculcate Christianity into our children, and mass media teaches our fellow citizens to ridicule Christians.
Are peacemakers needed? Yes, but our Lord Himself said that His Gospel is not a message for those who want to stand apart from conflict. Jesus said there are two great commands that summarize the Law and the Prophets: to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love our self. Selfish man does not want to love and obey God, and selfish man wants to love himself. Yet when we don’t love God and our neighbors as we should, when we put the desires of this world before God, we treat our neighbors as objects, things to be used and discarded. Then we create political discord, discord which can rapidly grow bloody. Therefore, we can only become peacemakers by spreading the Gospel and calling upon our fellow citizens to repent of their sins. To become effective in this world, we must do what is needed in the next to join our Lord in Heaven.
How does the Bible call upon us to contend with this world? How do we apply what the Bible says to political issues? Consider.
Ephesians 6:10-20 Good News Translation (GNT)
The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power. 11 Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks. 12 For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. 13 So put on God’s armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground.
14 So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, 15 and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. 16 At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. 17 And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. 18 Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people. 19 And pray also for me, that God will give me a message when I am ready to speak, so that I may speak boldly and make known the gospel’s secret. 20 For the sake of this gospel I am an ambassador, though now I am in prison. Pray that I may be bold in speaking about the gospel as I should.
God does not expect us to put our Christian faith in a prayer closet and leave it there. He expects us to use the Word of God as a sword to stand against the Devil.
Will we have instant success? No. Jeremiah spent his entire life warning his people against their sins, and few listened. So, Jeremiah suffered greatly. Even so Jeremiah spoke God’s Word. Even if his fellows often hated him, we should not doubt Jeremiah has received much honor in Heaven. Therefore, even when it is difficult to spread the Gospel we should follow Jeremiah’s example. We should spread our Lord’s Gospel. That includes applying Biblical teachings to politics.