"that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of
God." - 1Corinthians 2:5
I have been struggling with the role of Christians in modern society and my role in my own country that, at least in principle, exercises self-rule. I think that the passages in Romans 13 about subservience and submission to the governmental authority over you is valid, we must also consider that we ARE the government in this country, or at least, that is what our Constitution says.
I find much solace and wisdom in Hugh Hewitt's "In, But Not Of",
"History has known periods of greater and lesser human energy, and those
periods of greater energy have been periods when ambition was a passion in good
standing. In "The Century of Louis XIV", Voltaire remarks on the four most
admired historical epochs: Periclean Athens, Augustan Rome, Italy under the
Medicis, and France under Louis XIV. Since Voltaire's day, one might wish to add
to the list the United States from presidents Washington through Jefferson and
England under Queen Victoria. But what all these periods have in common is their
lack of equivocal feeling about ambition. Not that ambition in any of these
periods failed to produce its usual perversities, from the Athenian Alcabiades
to the American Aaron Burr. But whatever its excesses, ambition has at all times
been the passion that best releases the energies that make civilization
In the Christian view, the pendulum has swung back and forth,
from the doctrine that the meek shall inherit the earth to Max Weber's
perception (set forth in "The Protestant Ethic And The Spirit Of Capitalism)
that, among the Calvinists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a sign of
being among God's elect is success on earth. As a general statement it seems
unexceptional to say that Christianity has not necessarily despised ambition,
although it has tended to view excessive preoccupation with ambition for worldly
things as misguided" Joseph Epstein "Ambition"
Hewitt goes on to quote Deitrich Bonhoeffer;
"If I see a madman driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders",
Deitrich Bonhoeffer explained to his sister, "then I can't, as a Christian,
simply wait for the catastrophe and then comfort the wounded and bury the dead.
I must try and wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver."
I also go back to the Gospel of Matthew and the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). We have been given so much in this country, that I believe that we can be like the servant that was given the five talents. God forbid that we end up to be the servant that was handed only one talent and buried it, afraid to lose what we had! As Christians, we have an obligation to engage the culture and seek political power, and be the salt and the light in this world. Ronald Reagan spoke of the U.S. being "a city set upon a hill...", a line he took from the same Biblical passage. We in America are that city that Jesus spoke of in Matthew;
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how
will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown
out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A
city set upon a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put
it under the peck measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who
are in the house. Let you light shine in such a way that they may see your good
works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:13-16
We have this balancing act to do as Christians. While seeking political influence, we must not lose our love of each other and compassion for our fellow images of God in this world. This does not mean we need to vote for socialist policies, but it does mean that when we choose our words, they must be loving. When we choose our political stances, it must be done in love, communicated with love. When we choose our political leaders, they must be held accountable to a higher standard, or they tarnish not just themselves, or us, but our entire efforts and our ability to glorify God in the broader culture.
If we engage the culture, we need not be afraid because we have been given a powerful tool that no worldly man has in the Holy Spirit. Secular types may scoff at this and many Christians wonder if they really have it. I can tell you that it is real. It only requires communion and communication with God on a regular basis and keeping one's nose in the good book.
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who
is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which
things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught
by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words."
If we allow Jesus to work in us and through us, there is no end to what we can accomplish. I disagree with any that suggest that politics is a worldly affair and we should focus our attention of prayer and submission. This is surrender to the "meek" philosophy when there is no need for such a thing in modern America. I am not ashamed of the Gospel and it shall set us all free.
The number one thing Christians should think about is that freedom to exercise their religious beliefs is only as secure as we are willing to defend it. Our current direction in worldly, secular culture is to cut Christians out of our society. We simply must engage and participate in our current culture and politics or we will become the meek very quickly.
Jesus commanded us to "make disciples of all nations", it is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Is this easier to do as the meek, subservient and powerless, and perhaps persecuted minority of a domineering secular and wicked culture? Or as a robust and free, and vibrant middle or ruling class of the greatest nation God has ever set upon the earth? America has been the greatest boon to worldwide evangelism in history. Let us not give up that boon so easily. Let us not let freedom go without a fight.
1Corinthians is a letter of instruction of how to operate in a wicked and sinful culture and grow the Church. We may not win the battle, but we will have no good excuse when we stand before the Lord and have to explain why we did nothing at all, while we had the power to do so.
I mentioneed in another post that I wanted to leave it all in the ring. I do. I want to have the ten talents when my Lord comes calling, not the one I buried in fear of losing it.