Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Real State of the Union - Why I Don't Do Politics

In no way am I intending to insult or offend anyone involved in or interested in politics. I am simply expressing my own opinion & viewpoint on why I'm not interested in them.

I hate politics. I really do. I don't watch CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC. I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or The O'Reilly Factor. I'm pretty confident in saying I never will.

It didn't always used to be this way. In fact, I used to be very interested in politics when I was in high school. But the more I paid attention & the more I learned, the more I realized just how corrupt it is - and it didn't take long for me to entirely lose interest in all things political. The prototypical politician is only concerned first with his or her own agenda & re-election; after that, maybe they skim through the concerns & interests of the people group they represent. To be honest, this is true of any form of government; whether capitalism, socialism, communism, or a monarchy - the inner pride & hunger for power always makes its way to the top & eventually dilutes the well-intended structure that was originally put in place. In all of human history, we have yet to create a form of government where this didn't eventually happen. It's the truth...and it's depressing.

Human government and politics are broken. While government is necessary to accomplish civilization, cultural order, and to uphold some set of legal code...politics can never truly solve any of our real problems. No matter how "big" or "small" our government becomes, it can never remove injustice (also known as: sin) from the world. In a sermon entitled, "Making Much of His Name," Matt Chandler said the following:
“Capitalism does nothing to transform hearts, it just creates the venue by which we will oppress & operate in injustice. It doesn’t eradicate oppression & injustice – it just sets the grid for how our wicked hearts will practice such things. And the United States – for all of God’s grace on this beautiful 50-state union – is not the light of the world.”
Here's why I don't "do" politics:

1) America is not the answer. Before you tell me to "love it or leave it," I assure you that I'm thankful to live in this country. I am very grateful for the freedom we have and for the sacrifice of so many to preserve that freedom. But here's the honest truth: America isn't God's program for today. The church is - and not just the American church. Jesus did not institute the church so that we could efficiently spearhead political reform and spread the word about the shortfalls of the government. He instituted the church to make disciples of Jesus and to make His name famous throughout the world.
I didn't watch the State of the Union address - I didn't need to. Things are bad and they are getting worse. But it honestly amazes me that there seems to be so much shock from within the church about the deteriorating morality of our nation - 2 Timothy 4:3-4 was a pretty clear warning of that taking place world-wide. It's undoubtedly scary, but it shouldn't be shocking. It should only increase our sense of urgency and our level of seriousness toward making disciples. Here's a hard truth for the most patriotic of Christians: God's plan to save sinners is not dependent on the status of the United States. Whether America thrives as a nation or becomes bankrupt, poverty-stricken, and even overthrown...Jesus Christ will continue to build His church & the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.

2) Jesus was not a politician. When Jesus was on earth, the political scene was anything but peaceful. The world was far from being free of oppression & injustice. The rulers of his day were just as power-hungry, self-serving, and corrupt as any given time period. In fact, the Jews themselves were often the very victims of political oppression. But in all His teachings, sermons, and talks - He never went on a political rant. He never gave a rousing speech to the crowds that followed him around that they deserved a better king than Herod, or how corrupt Pontius Pilate was as a governor. He didn't bash the Roman emperor during the sermon on the mount. He basically avoided the topic of politics altogether, except to simply endorse obeying the laws of their day. Jesus knew that the Jews were looking for a political savior, but that's not why He came. Their cries of "Hosanna" (Lord save us!) were misplaced. Jesus came to save us from our sin & spiritual death, not from a political system or shortcoming.
When I look at how Jesus handled politics - corrupt politics - it honestly troubles me that some of the most potent, unapologetic hatred that is spewed toward the leaders of our country comes from within the church.
As frustrating as the direction of our nation is becoming, and as irritating as it is to catch any leader in a lie, it's imperative that we remind ourselves and come to grasp with the truth of Romans 13 - "...there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed..." God has put every leader in place for the purpose of somehow, someway carrying out His own sovereign plan in the world & receiving glory. This is incredibly difficult to understand, but it's true. (In his book Spectacular Sins, John Piper does a great job of explaining this truth). Instead of publicly bashing our government officials and worrying about what we want to see accomplished through might do us some good to privately pray for them and ask God to help us trust that He is somehow using them to accomplish His sovereign will. 

So the "real" state of the union is that the United States of America continues to head down a path of scary, questionable decision-making with many unknown future circumstances. There is little semblance left of any morality. Opposition to Christianity is growing every day. But should this "shock" us? No. It should drive us to the power, hope, and true freedom found in the gospel of Christ. A constant anxiety, anger, and uproar about the state of our government points to a misplaced trust. Politics cannot save souls. Government cannot eliminate sin. A new president cannot fix what is truly broken. 
"The Christian's trust is not in politics. Our hope for the future isn’t in the incumbent or the challenger, but in the God-man who promises that he will build his church (Matthew 16:18) and that his gospel will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations (Matthew 24:14). And his final instructions before taking to the air didn’t include a word about political activism, but focused clearly and concisely on making disciples. Christian, we have bigger fish to fry." - David Mathis

There is hope for America - but He doesn't live in Washington.

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