Promoting God’s Priorities in a Politically Problematic Place
Proverbs 29:2 “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan….4 By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down. …7 The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern….10 Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity and seek to kill the upright…12 If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked.”
The scriptures have much to say on the wisdom of just rulers and our care for righteousness in our land. Compared to the vast majority of nations throughout history, we have considerable say-so in the way our nation is governed. The system itself is far from perfect, but there are many ways to play a part in this governance, such as jury duty, voting, and even running for office.
One of the most fascinating passages of scripture to me, is found in Jeremiah 29:7 “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." To a large group of God-fearing people, who were being led into captivity due to the wickedness of their nation, God reminds them that their lives are far from over, and that their actions as strangers in that land were to be involved in it! God would surely listen to their prayers, and prosper both them and the nation around them. God assured them that they, as a minority would make an impact!
There is, then, a balance in perspective that Christians must take, between our care for the here and now, and the life to come; the temporal and the eternal . Every person should see the love and care we seek for the overall benefit of those around, and they should also witness the demonstration from our lives that we recognize the eternal priorities: (James 1:9-10) “The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. (Mark 8:36) “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
Believers in Christ are given clear direction on the purpose and impact behind our actions: Galatians 6:8-10 “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
How do we “do good to all people…especially the family of believers”? First, we prioritize our time spent with God, the family of believers (church), and the rest (“all people”). 2ndly, we work for, even fight for the institutions in society that God has laid out for us in revelation. This includes the sanctity of all life, from the baby in the womb, to the sick and elderly. It includes justice, and the freedom for one’s voice to be heard, even in disagreement. We do all we can to promote the values that will enable our society to continue according to God’s Law, and this includes the very definitions which form our understanding of God’s world. (“Family”, “Gender”, “Justice”, “Equality”, etc) We recognize that the greatest need all humankind is a reconciliation towards and relationship with their Creator, and this means we prioritize our truth-telling to proclaim what Jesus has done towards that very end.
Because Christians, by following the Living Christ, should by nature prioritize the eternal over the temporal, we see that God is fully able to accomplish His purposes even if the external culture seems to move against His Decree. Though we love, serve, vote, and care for the people around us, we understand by spiritual insight that the Church must maintain her witness throughout the world in both a culture of freedom, and a culture of oppression. The Bride of Christ must stand bright and beautiful where worship of the Triune God is accepted, and where it is illegal.
Though we serve our nation by promoting the very principles of God as given to us, we know that our primary calling will not change, even if it the majority turn against Him. Whether the outcome of the election goes in the way we seek, or otherwise, we are fully empowered to love and serve God through loving one another!
So seek the freedom to promote society around us as God intended, but also be willing to give up personal freedoms, where needed, for the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ!
1 Peter 2:15-17 “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”