What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Friday, July 02, 2010

"Neither!" A Primer On Christians & Politics

This past week in my training for my new Area Director gig, we looked at several passages out of Joshua. Our time in Joshua 4 was rich--and reminded me of this post from a little over a year ago dealing with Christians and politics.

Since my guess is that my mother is the only one who consistently reads this thing from month to month and year to year, I thought I'd re-post for the July 4th weekend. Enjoy!

Joshua was leading the Israelites into their promised destiny after forty years of wanderings in the desert. Here's what happens from Joshua 4:
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?" "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come."
If ever any government or people-group had an officially God-sanctioned mandate to do something, it was Joshua with the Israelites. Yet even here, even as God's People, the Israelites, are about to take the land promised to them by Yahweh the angel of the Lord refuses to take sides other than His own.

Steve Shelby, my former pastor in Richmond, Va at West End Pres preached powerfully on this passage during an election year, much to the chagrin of many of his congregants. Who is God for in this election? "Neither!" Or more literally, simply: "No!"

God is not a Republican. He is not a Democrat. He is not for America. He is not for Israel. There is a third army in play in this drama with Joshua v. Jericho: God's army. And he will not self-identify with any one people-group, even though many of us would prefer to commandeer his name for our own purposes.

This is not to say that Christians should not affiliate or be committed to specific political parties. Christians are needed in both major parties to be salt and light.

But we do so as aliens, strangers, always. Neither party is the kingdom of God. Both have major flaws. We must soberly see those flaws clearly and work with love and faithfulness first to the Lord and secondly to the political parties we affiliate with.

This is not un-like our relationship with our jobs. A Christian IBM'er is to work faithfully and whole-heartedly, but ultimately realize that IBM is not the answer to the world's problems and there are going to be fundamental differences in terms of ultimate purpose.

I think history will show that the late-20th century move of evangelical Christians aligning themselves with the conservative right was pivotal in terms of mobilizing evangelicals to re-engage the political and social arena.

And I hope that the 21st century will show us mobilizing into every area of society, including both political parties, as agents of blessing, full of faith, hope, and love.

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