“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’” declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isa 55:8-9)
God certainly gives us clues why His people so often miss His mind and heart. Even the simplest divine instructions can get wadded up when people process them through their own personal prejudices, mistaken certainties, and emotional reactions. This fact is especially born out when it comes to the application of “Christian” principles to American politics.
Too often, we believers tend to confuse our ways with God’s ways when we try to apply our imperfect understanding of God’s will to political issues. That leads to a lot of unnecessary tension and misunderstanding when we engage in conversation with those who have a different worldview.
How do we fix that? Perhaps, we need to take a longer look at the Book. The first chapter of Acts recounts how Jesus, after His resurrection, spent forty days with His apostles, instructing them concerning the Kingdom of God.
He had already made it abundantly clear that this kingdom was not of this world; rather it was a spiritual government which operates radically differently than the kingdoms of this world. Nevertheless, when He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they are baptized with the promised Holy Spirit, they responded by asking Him, if that was when He was going to make Israel great again.
It’s amazing how far they missed the point. They were still thinking that the “kingdom” was a political entity; that the “King” was planning to implement their own understanding about government to bring about His righteousness to their little corner of the world. Modern believers continue to misunderstand the cosmic, eternal implications of the Gospel message. Faith is so easily hijacked from the deeply spiritual and universal to the secular and locally political.
I’m not suggesting that believers do not have a civic responsibility to apply their faith in practical ways wherever they live. We are citizens of this nation. Being a good Christian citizen includes voting for policies that best reflect the righteousness of God. That’s a part of being in the world, but not of it.
I am concerned, however, that we might get sucked into this “of the world” stuff if we get too focused on applying political solutions to spiritual problems, instead of applying spiritual solutions to political problems. It seems to me that revivals have much better side effects than revolutions tend to do when it comes to a nation’s overall well-being. I say that in full understanding that our country was birthed by a bloody revolutionary war and was preserved in spite of a second one.
Yet, through all the turmoil of our nation’s history; the good, the bad, and the ugly, God’s blessing upon the USA is manifestly evident to anyone who has ever lived elsewhere. I have, and I love my country.
In this highly intensive political season all sorts of propaganda bombard us. Everybody has an agenda and it’s virtually impossible to escape the din and clamor of public debate. Too many Christians seem to be particularly vulnerable to a panic reaction, fearing that even our fundamental right to worship will be somehow in jeopardy if we don’t get out the “Christian” vote. Those nasty Progressives are out to take the Kingdom from us!
Like Chicken Little, we can misread the true circumstances and wax hysterical. Before we know it, we’ve infected everyone we know and love with fear and start a panic parade that leads us away from the peace of God that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). Unguarded minds and hearts are always vulnerable to bad reports and overreactions.
We are promised by the Lord that we will have troubles and persecution in and from “this world.” We are advised that absolutely everything will be shaken, tested by fire, flood, famine, war, and God only knows what else. In the end, only one government will remain. That is the unshakable Kingdom of God.
Every human institution is bound for eventual destruction and there are no political solutions, even “Christian” ones, which can prevent this from happening. In the end, every nation, race, and tribe will be subjected to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, regardless of how they may feel about that.
King Jesus was rejected, not elected by men, but He was selected by the Almighty. Because of His self-sacrificing obedience, God has appointed Him Lord and King. He gave up His life, cursed on a cross to bear our sins so that we may be reconciled to God. We who receive this reconciliation are added to the Kingdom as citizens and ambassadors to our King.
We do not want to get overly distracted by the ways and means of “this world” which will soon pass away. Rather, we desire to keep our focus on the job the Lord left for us to do, to be His witnesses and make disciples wherever we find ourselves.
I find hope only in the promise that if we stand firm in our faith to the end we will be saved. We may have to endure much worse than we can now imagine. In any case, these last days give us ample opportunity to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the whole world as a testimony to all nations before the “end” comes (Matthew 24:14)
The writer of Hebrews encourages us, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful (not depressed), and so worship God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29).
So, I will vote according to my conscience. Also, I will try to perform my other civic duties, and to be a model citizen in my community, living at peace with my neighbors, taking care of the sick, the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the aged. I will protect the weak and helpless.
I will stand up for liberty and justice for all, as all true patriots instinctively do. But I will not be deceived into thinking that the Kingdom of God can come through the political policies of men, regardless of their righteous motives.
Likewise, I will try not to be anxious about the shaking I see and feel, both here and abroad. I won’t be downcast if the “wrong” agenda is enacted and the “ungodly” seem to be victorious. Perceived or not, God’s Kingdom is already here and it is advancing. It cannot be shaken.
“Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” He alone is our rock and our salvation. In Him, alone, we fully trust. Amen.
[LeRoy Curtis is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Asbury Theological Seminary. He served four years as a U.S. Naval Officer after which he became a pastor, Bible professor, educator, author, and missionary living in E. Africa for eight years where he and his wife developed a curriculum of biblical studies for untrained pastors in rural Kenya. His passion for training young church leaders takes him to various parts of the U.S., Latin America, and Africa. He and Judy are currently residing in Carrollton, Georgia.]