Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Do not make this world your god and politics your religion.


I have a bachelors in political science.  I am politically informed.  I follow it.  I care about it.  I care about it a lot.  Yet, I recognize the temptation of this world to make it our god and politics our religion; and I urge all of us to resist.  Please resist. 

Let me tell you what I mean.  Luther, in the large catechism, defines what the true God and an idol are.  This is what he writes concerning the 1st commandment, which is, "you shall have no other gods before Me." [Do not think linearly here - 'before me' means, 'in my presence' - think like, "coming before a king."]

Luther writes, "You shall have [and worship] Me alone as thy God.  What is the force of this and how is it to be understood?  What does it mean to have a god?  Or, what is God?  Answer:  A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the whole heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith  of the heart alone make both God and an idol.  If your faith and trust be right, then is your god also true; and, on the other hand, if your trust be false and wrong, then you have not the true God; for these two belong together, faith and God.  That now, I say, upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your god.

Many people have stopped putting their trust in God; and they've started putting their trust in humanity.  As a result, politics has become their religion; for that is the way to make this world, "better" for humanity.  The old saying, "nature abhors a vacuum" is true.  The vacuum left by God has been filled...and it has been filled with caring way too much about political questions.

People are far less religious today than they were years ago.  Even with people who believe in God, there is a significant drop in religion. Religion is loosely defined as simply a set of beliefs where a person is taught the nature of the universe, a person understands their purpose in that universe, and they are taught of He who created the universe and how to be in a right relationship with Him.  There is much more to it than that, and I fully recognize the differences in religions, yet that loose definition will serve the purpose of the blog.

This is what, "having religion" has done for me:  I hope in God.  I do not hold out hope for this world.  This world is sinful.  This world is very sinful.  This world will always have evil in it.  This world will always have bad in it.  Jesus called Satan, "the prince of this world."  As such, I do not hope in this place.  I am assured that this present heavens and earth will burn and God will created a new heavens and earth.  This is the hope of Christianity. 

The religion of politics has said this world is all there is,[the nature of the universe]  that our place is only to make this place, 'better' [we exist to serve the world] and the standard for, 'better' is maleable and unstable, and we must change with it [hence finding our place in this world] therefore there is always distress in the system. 

This truth of God and His Son Jesus guards me about placing my hope in this place; and that is what I fear far too many people have done.  You see, I believe very strongly in doing the best I can to influence the culture, the government, and the people around me to do that which God would have us do.  I believe strongly in influencing this world for good; for the sake of the people in it.  So I am not here writing about any particular political activity of influence that you may partake in.  Write the letters, call the congressman or woman, call the president, vote, etc....but do that out of love for people, not love for our political ideology.  Do not treat your politics as if you were fighting for your God.  If you are Christian, you are not...Beloved, do not hope in this place - do not find your hope in this world - for the love of all that is holy, do not hope in it.  No matter what happens, this place will still be sinful.

Take Christ for example.  He lived at a time of political turmoil in Israel.  Politics was everywhere!  It was a political question in order to trap Him when He was asked, "should we pay taxes to Caesar or not..." [Matthew 22:17] One of the accusations against Jesus by the religious leaders was that Jesus claimed to be a king, in opposition to the Caesar.  [Luke 23:2]

The Roman government had political, military, and economic control over Israel.  Everyone in Israel was hoping in political deliverance from Rome.  The promise of the Messiah was thought to be fulfilled through a mighty warrior that would re-establish the borders of the Promised Land.

Yet...when Jesus walked the earth prior to His resurrection, He said nothing about the political situation of Roman occupation.  He simply never addressed it directly.  He did not address the political questions between the Gentiles, the Jews, and the Samaritans.  He simply did not spend time on it.  He spent time healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, and preaching the Gospel.  He spent a great amount of time telling us how to behave.  He called us to repentance and He called us to faith.  Why ignore the political structure and focus directly on people?

I will tell you why.  Rome today is an insignificant city in Italy.  Rome, as a nation, is dead.  Yet, the people that lived at the time Jesus met them - they are either in heaven or hell.  He spent time on the things that were eternal, not the things that are transient.

Many people have pushed their hope in God away and replaced it with a trifling silly idol; this world.  And they mistake politics as the tool to making this world that which it will never be: completely just, fair, good, and holy.  Please remember who the, "prince of this world" is. 

Hope in God.  He has a Kingdom prepared that will not spoil or fade; and that Kingdom is waiting for all who turn from sin and embrace Christ.

I have the privilege of ministering to people who think very differently from me on political questions.  Yet, we seem to love each other well.  The reason for this is because, while I never shy away from questions the Bible addresses - in particular questions of life, sexuality, the unique creation of all human beings being made in God's image, justice, stewardship of the creation, etc...I do not suppose to attempt to manipulate people to think I know all the answers as to how to achieve it.  I do not hope in me - I hope in God. 

I have been far from perfect.  I too have gotten sucked into discussions on-line of which I later regret.  And I have to tell you, I have not been convinced by one meme by one friend of which I disagree on political matters.  No one's anger has ever moved me.  Yet, real discussions with real people with whom I love has changed my mind.  But we can have those discussions because I know I am not asking them to drop their god...and they are not asking me to drop mine.  Our God is the same and our goal is the same.  How we make this world a better place...that is what we are discussing.  And when that is the discussion, we are discussing 3rd things, not 1st things, and that makes all the difference in the world. 

Your friend,


1 comment: