Should Christians Be Involved in Politics?

Questioning whether or not Christians should be involved in politics is like asking whether or not should Christians be doctors, teachers, construction workers, retail clerks, farmers, bankers, or real estate agents.

Of course they should!

But many well meaning Christians believe the answer is no. 

They believe we should be engaged in more heavenly matters, and that political engagement of any sort is a distraction from God's calling and purpose for the church. 

After all, everything in this world is fading away, destined to be judged by fire, and the kingdom of God will one day bring about end to all the kingdoms of this world.  So why get involved in such temporary endeavors when eternity is at stake?  Does not such involvement show we've confused where our true citizenship is ultimately located? 

But if we use such an argument about politics, then we could easily apply such an argument to any profession. At the end of the day, all professions involve engaging in temporary matters.

And of course, politics has a way of getting out of hand, as it often attracts power hungry people that engage in corrupt behavior all in the name of making themselves into a messianic figure. But if you step back and look at the bigger picture, such can be found in every profession known to mankind... including ministry.

I think Christians should be involved in every level of politics, from voting, to sitting on a school board, to possibly becoming the Preaident of the United States.

After all, God has placed us in this world to be a source of blessing to this world, wherever we may find ourselves.  And that means doing more than just giving off a heavenly aurora and saving souls.  It means helping real people solve real problems in real ways. And being involved in the government is just one of the many ways we as Christians can help solve the challenges that face mankind in tangible ways. 

I would argue it would be entirely unspiritual if Christians were entirely divorced from being involved in any and all political matters and had nothing to do with civil government.

As Christians we are called to help others, and part of that includes possibly helping others in this world decide where roads get built, how neighborhoods get zoned, how children get educated, and what laws are just and helpful to the rest of our society.  So why some Chistians think we shouldn't be involved in such matters is beyond me.  If anything, Christians should have some of the greatest ideas to put forward in any nation they find themselves, because they are doing what they do unto the Lord, and should ultimately have Him and the greater good of all people in mind.

And in the process of helping the Caesar's of this world figure out how to govern the nation, we get to be witnesses for Christ, and bring His presence with us wherever we go and in whatever we do. And hopefully, we can make a practical difference in this world, just as we do in whatever other professions we we engaged in for a living. 

And we will do all these things while also sharing the Gospel that Jesus Christ is ultimately King of kings, and Lord of lords, to whom all must ultimately bow before.

Of course, in being Christians we might butt some heads along the way. Our message and some of our views will likely be controversial.  And our ethical positions might keep us from engaging in and supporting some political perspectives, or from participating in some political activities due to having made our loyalty to Jesus Christ first and foremost.  Or it means we may advocate for things that nobody else advocates for, simply because nobody else had the eyes or heart to see certain needs.  And because we might not be able to engage in certain activities without compromising our faith, such might limit the level of involvement we have in the political arena. 

But how is that different from any other occupation we might find ourselves in? 

It might be impossible to become the President of the United States without a lot of moral compromises (indeed, I personally question how one could become such today without cutting a lot of throats and engaging in shady dealings, but perhaps I'm just cynical like that).  But such difficulties are simply part of the sufferings of Christ we as Christians participate.  Such challenges, however, don't mean we entirely withdraw from openly participating in the society and culture we find ourselves placed in.  I believe Jesus Christ calls us to engage society on every level.  The Gospel message is the gospel message for the entire world.

As Christians, we are ultimately ambassadors for Jesus Christ, and He is not only our King, but the King of the entirely world, including those who currently sit over their respective nations as kings. 

Jesus and His ministry is ultimately political in nature:  HE IS A KING! 

And as King, I imagine He has some pretty amazing things to say the kings of this world. 

Of course, many if not most will reject what He has to say, and want nothing to do with the Lord's Anointed. And many will take a bold stand against Christ, and openly defy Him.  Indeed, the kings of this world once crucified the Lord, and have violently persecuted many of His followers since. 

But such only happened because the Gospel message ultimately has political ramifications.  Jesus, in part, was crucified because His message was revolutionary in its political scope.  They didn't crucify Jesus just because He was telling people that they could go to heaven when they died.  They crucified Him and ultimately persecuted His followers because announcing that "Jesus is Lord" is a threat to a world in which the Caesar's of this world see themselves as the only lord. 

But our involvement with government it isn't always going to be all doom and gloom.  History shows time and time again the church of Jesus Christ has been able to make some outstanding contributions to society and civil governments that proved to be a blessing to many within this world, and ultimately at the same time, the world that is yet to come. 

Yes, ultimately we keep our hopes fixated on the promise of a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  And we know this world will one day be subjected to a cosmic judgment. 

But such doesn't mean we go stand out on our roof tops and look up into space waiting on the return of Jesus in the interim.  Rather, such means we are to go out into all of the world, and engage people where they are at, in all levels of society, telling them that Jesus is Lord, and that we want to make a difference in this world that positively impacts them because of this fact. 


Let's Excommunicate Donald Trump from the Church!

My proposition is a very simple and straight forward one:  Christians everywhere need to excommunicate Donald Trump from the church. 

And instead of being seen in public praying with him, interviewing him, asking him to come speak at our schools, events, and talk shows... or otherwise courting Donald Trump in any way, shape or form, the church and its leaders need to publicly rebuke and shun Donald Trump.

With one voice, we need to let Donald Trump know in a very clear manner that he needs not call himself one of us, because he's not one of us.  We should not let Donald Trump in anyway pretend to be a Christian of any sorts. 

By playing make believe with Donald Trump, it not only makes him look like a fool, it makes us as the church look foolish for submitting ourselves to his nonsense, and worst of all, it brings reproach on the gospel and everything the church values and stands for.

And such would not only be good for our sake, but most importantly, for Donald Trump's sake, and the sake of his unsaved soul. 

Of course, we might be afraid to shun Trump. 

After all, if we shun Trump, who else might we consider shunning?

Where would it stop?  If Donald isn't a Christian, then who is, and who is not?

And if we kick him out, then what would we do with all the other serial adulterers and serial divorcees in the church?  What's would we do with our top-down, heavy handed, authoritarian leadership styles among our pastors?  What would we do with those who live lives full of excessive materialistic indulgence, and who think it's God's will for them to be loaded, and to live in large palaces?

Well, such might lead us to start asking some really hard questions and coming up with some pretty hard to swallow truths.  Truths we don't like.  Truths that bring into question where we stand with Jesus, and how much our lives align (or don't align) to the teachings of Christ. 

And such is why we as Christians in America continue to play church with Donald.  Because actually being the church might be too costly of a thing.  It would shake us up in ways we don't want to be shaken.

Donald Trump isn't a Christian.  Don't be afraid to say it.  He needs to hear it.  And most importantly, we need to hear it. 

I hereby excommunicate Donald Trump from the church of Jesus Christ.  I hope you'll join me.


Our "Wizard of Oz" Fetish

In our culture, there are few virtues more celebrated than the ability to be "real," "authentic," and "true to yourself." 

"Be a better you!" has become our mantra.  You would almost think it is something Jesus taught.

But I'm here to tell you that "being real" is overrated.  And being you-ier shouldn't be our aim.

Being real is just an excuse for most people.  It's an excuse for tawdry behavior, poor social graces, and otherwise a license to demonstrate boorish behaviors and mindsets.

Maybe I'm just being cynical.

But keep in mind that the world is full sociopaths who are just being true to themselves every single day, as they spin clever and complex webs of deception.  The world is full of confused individuals for whom being real means hacking off their sexual organs and replacing them with something a plastic surgeon designed.  The world is full of Donald J. Trumps who bulldoze others in front of celebratory crowds... all in the name of being real.

All these and a million others are chasing the idea of being real.  But I think if that's what's real, then maybe being real should require a specially designated license that is only loaned out on a temporary basis.

One might say I'm misconstruing things.

You might say that "Being true to yourself" is really about living a life of bold conviction, acting according to one's sincerely and deeply held beliefs and passions.  It's not about being crazy.  Rather, it's the decision to be your own man, where you walk according to the beat of your own drum, daring to be different, and utterly unique in a society of conformists and sellouts.

And while there is much noble-minded thought in what you might have just said, I still can't get around this preoccupation such a mindset has with the self.

It's a dangerous mindset, and requires a lot of responsibility.  It requires a level a responsibility that most of us probably can't handle. Heck, the devil himself ultimately couldn't handle it when he was previously an angel in heaven.  The devil was true to himself, and in the process of that he became self-intoxicated, and rebelled against God and took a third of heaven with him.

Like the devil, I don't think we can handle being real.

Indeed, since the fall realness is not something we have craved.  We've all become like Adam, hanging out in the garden, covering our nakedness with leaves, hiding from God and each other.  We prefer to hang out in the shadows, and to live in rooms full of smoke and mirrors, even among our closest of friends and family.  We boast a lot about wanting to be real, but when the most real Person to every walk the face of the Earth showed up, we ran Him out of town and crucified Him on a cross.

At the end of the day, we don't want what is real. Otherwise we wouldn't have treated Jesus like we did.

Instead, we love our larger than life Wizard of Oz personas.  And if we ourselves cannot be the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz, we will pounce upon every opportunity to live vicariously through those who take on that role, and make messiah's of men who were not the actual Messiah.

At the end of the day, I don't believe God ever created us to be real.  He created us to be image-bearers.  He created us to reflect the image of the One in whom we were ultimately created, and the only One who has had the capacity to be really real. It's only in becoming more and more like Jesus that any of us have any hope at being real and authentic.

And we do that, not by boldly asserting ourselves out there into this world.  Rather, we do it by daily picking up our cross, denying ourselves, and following Him.


Jesus says: Stand through the Storm

Trials are simply a part of life.

No matter who your daddy is, how much money you have in the bank, or what country you were born in, there is simply nothing you can do in this life to avoid suffering.  Suffering comes to us all.

Suffering is such a huge part of life that the leader of another major world religion once said, "All life is suffering," and then spent much of the rest of his life expounding on finding a way to minimize it.

And while I wouldn't quite go so far as Buddha to say that all of life is suffering, if you live long enough, you'll recognize that there is a lot of suffering in this world, and that some of that suffering always manages to find its way into all of our lives in one form or fashion.

Instinctively knowing these things, a lot of what we do in our lives is done in order to proactively combat suffering.

For example, the typical American life is built around the idea of chasing a dream that involves not suffering.  It's built into the very creed of America, and part of our national DNA:  "...life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  And much of the decisions we make in this life, like where we go to school at, what we study, who we marry, the career we choose, who we vote for, and the reasons why we ultimately go to war with other nations, all these things are driven, in part, because we think by making certain choices that we will be able to largely enjoy life, and minimize the degree to which suffering factors into our daily experience.

And some people are really good at this game.  As a result, some become so insulated to a lot of the troubles of this life, and a lot of their troubles consist of what has been laughably classified on the internet as "First World Problems" or #FirstWorldProblems (for those of you who like hashtags).  

Such #FirstWorldProblems might include:

  • "I'm upset that my selfie stick doesn't work with my new cell phone case."
  • "There was simply too much food at my Super Bowl party."
  • "I have a closet full of clothes... but nothing to wear."
  • "My car doesn't even have seat warmers."
  • "None of the movies added to Netflix this month are very appealing."
  • "My cookie won't fit in my glass of milk."
  • "My mom is friends with me on Facebook."

But no matter how hard we try to avoid suffering, storms are destined to enter our life just the same, no matter who we are and what we do.  At some point in our lives, no matter how hard we try, we will all inevitably suffer a job loss, a social injustice, become the victim of a random crime, have our health fell us, have a friend betray us, or lose a loved one.  And in the end, all of us will eventually die.

A storm is always coming.  But how we respond to the coming storm, and the outcome of that storm, is not always the same.

Knowing this is the fate of all men everywhere, Jesus closed out His teaching on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:24-27) by telling a story about two men. Both men were men who heard His teachings, and both of them were men who ultimately faced a terrible storm.  But between hearing the teachings of Jesus and enduring a terrible storm, both men built a house.  But the difference between the two men was the choice of the foundation that they both built their house upon.  One man built his home on a rock hard foundation.  The other man built his home on sand.  And when the storm came, and it came to both of them, the man who built his house on a sturdy foundation endured the storm, whereas the one who built his home on the sand ultimately suffered the destruction of everything in his life.

Jesus says in this story if we want to be men whose lives endure the coming storm, and know how to truly live life, we need to become men who build our lives on the hard and rock solid foundation of His teachings, and putting them into practice.  

Because if we build our lives on anything else, be it the teachings of Buddha, the homespun wisdom of our grandparents, the sage like musings of the rabbi's, or something we heard Oprah and Dr. Phil say on TV, then we are doing nothing but ultimately setting ourselves up for failure.  

And that's not to say these guys and gals don't have a lot of great things to say.  Sometimes they do.  You can build a house on it, just as the man in Jesus's story did.  But at the end of the day, what they have to say doesn't have much to it, and is prone to easily shifting around.  So while you can build a house on it, that house will never have a firm foundation.  It will always lack a certain trustworthiness, and will ultimately prove itself fleeting when the storms of life ultimately do come.

So if you are going through a storm and want to not only survive it, but thrive even after it is over, Jesus says we need to simply put His words into action in our daily lives.  

We need to find that Jesus Christ alone is the firm foundation that we must ultimately build our lives upon. And trusting in Him and who He is and what He has done, with great confidence we can build our lives on Him and what He has said.  

Things won't always be pretty.  We are going to face some brutal storms.  But with Jesus Christ as our firm foundation, He will support us the entire way, and ultimately make us to stand strong through whatever comes against us.  


Stop Forgiving Yourself: You can't anyway...

"You've got to learn to forgive yourself..."

Or so the mantra goes.

Such advice sounds spiritual, wise, and even like something Jesus commands us to do.

But the Scriptures knows nothing about this strange high-minded concept called "forgiving yourself."  Indeed, such a concept defies common sense.  You can no more forgive yourself than you can owe yourself $20.  You might be able to move money from your left pocket to your right pocket, or switch money around in bank accounts, but that's about as fancy as we can get with such a thing. 

You in no way owe anything to yourself. You aren't your own creditor.

But in spite of such compelling logic, some of us may find that there is just something we've done in our past that hangs heavily around our neck.  Something stupid we did once upon a time that continues to haunt us, and something that we feel is holding us back.  And we want to escape such feelings of guilt, regret, and shame.

Such feelings as you may be genuinely experiencing aren't uncommon.  I've felt them too.

But I've learned a couple things over the years.  Namely that "forgiving myself" will do nothing to cure my problems.  Rather, I believe such internal issues are rooted primarily in one or two different things:

First, such feelings are often rooted in pride.  It's a form of self-absorption at the end of the day.  The past is the past, and as much as I might have to learn to own the consequences of my mistakes and/or my sins, continually replaying them over and over again in my mind and thinking about "what I did..." and "how I've ruined my life" isn't going to get me anywhere in life.  And the only way out of that vicious cycle is to let go of your pride and to learn to walk in humility instead.  Stop thinking about what you've done to you, and start thinking about what Jesus has done for you.  What He's done for you is infinitely greater than anything you've done to yourself.

Second, such feelings may come as a result of sins I've yet to confess to God and genuinely repent of in my life.  If I've yet to "take it to the cross and leave it there" then I'm allowing those sins to continually fester in my heart and mind and to deprive me of the life Jesus Christ has for me.  The Bible says if we confess our sins to the Lord, He is faithful and just to forgive us of all that we've done, because of what Jesus Christ has done on the cross.  All that remains after that is to walk in the forgiveness that God has lavished on us through His Son, and to enjoy the richness of His grace and mercy towards us that is demonstrated in our daily lives.

So, stop this trying to forgive yourself of stuff.  You can't do it anyway, no matter what mental gymnastics you play.  Get over yourself already and get on to Jesus.

Take it all to Him.  No matter what you've done, He'll take it all from you.  He alone can carry the weight of those things that you were never designed to carry. 

Jesus Christ alone died to take away the sins of the world.  Will you let Him take them away from you?  Or are you going to keep holding on?