Be intentional in how you present history. The biblical worldview that once helped shape society has given way to relativism and atheism. Pornography has invaded our homes, including those of our pastors. How the world has changed! Nevertheless, during the days when most could name the Ten Commandments, some Americans were less than full citizens under the law, and lynching was common. Women had no voting rights, nor could they serve on juries. Only a limited view of our history says we have been on a constantly downward slide since the days of the Puritans.
My grandfather deserted my grandmother in the 1930s, leaving her with a small child in a day when the church judged the divorced. I met a woman last week who was date-raped in the 1960s, and she had to go into hiding to keep her church from finding out. The Christian sub-culture in America was not so long ago a dangerous place to be broken. Thank God that despite some declines we have also seen some improvements. The presentation of US history as only declining without qualification can sound racist and sexist—ways that are not of Christ.
Eschew offering false fear and false hope. To offer any candidate as the solution for a country’s ills is to set up a false messiah. A candidate might have what we consider a better approach to healthcare or abortion rights or unemployment, but no candidate can “save our country.” We tend to err in the extremes of fear mongering or offering utopia. Neither approach lines up with the truth.
Recognize the limits of politics. Christ, not legislation, is the ultimate solution for culture. Only when His kingdom comes shall His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In the days when abortion was illegal, one of my relatives found a way to have one. Civil law, important as it is, is external and limited in its scope.
But Christ brings new life from the inside out. While the law does help provide moral structure, the Christian’s hope for change lies in a “someone,” not in a secular system. Who does or doesn’t inhabit the oval office is of little consequence compared with the change available in Christ. Lobbying and boycotting can bring some external results, but they cannot effect inner change.
Remember your roots. The Chick-fil-a fiasco reminded the world that the Christian sub-culture in America is large, powerful, and refuses to be pushed around. But the Christian sub-culture in most other parts of the planet was and is politically and socially weak—even powerless. Reading the New Testament helps us see the church can still flourish when the state hates Christians; even a Nero in power cannot prevail against the church.
While in the States we have much social power that gives us freedom to worship in public, pray in public, and broadcast our worldview on the radio (wonderful freedoms!), such acceptance of Christianity also brings some unique temptations. We have at times been so cozy with politicians that people now tend to associate Christianity with one political party. A magazine I receive for editors lists words that have changed in meaning, and it listed a new primary meaning for the word “Christian” as “one associated with a right-wing political party.” Rather than perceiving that we address the greed and immorality rampant in both parties, the world sees us as too cozy with one kind of power. Our love for politics and politicians can blunt our ability to speak and even to hear the truth. ("If we acknowledge the bad in our favored party, the other party's guy might get elected.")
In the words of John MacArthur, “America's moral decline is a spiritual problem, not a political one, and its solution is the gospel, not partisan politics.” I encourage all Christians to involve themselves in serving to make the world a better place in any way possible. But we must be biblical and realistic in how we think and talk about what politicians and legislators can do. Jesus, not Caesar, is the answer for the world today. Let us render unto God the things that are God’s.
Photo cc by Vectorportal on Flickr.