Political Action?

Jesus, not political activism, is the answer to a broken world.

The Church’s involvement in politics represents a colossal waste of human and financial resources, a tragic misdirection of enthusiasm, and a complete misunderstanding of the Church’s mission in this broken world. Our mission is not to create a more moral America. Our mission is not to intimidate unbelievers into living like believers before they are believers. Heck, believers don’t even live like believers should live.

Jesus, not political activism, is the answer to a broken world. Our hope is not in passing new laws, powerful political action committees, or protests attended by hundreds, thousands, or even millions of sincere, fired-up, flag waving, Bible carrying, Christians. Our hope is found in nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.
Furthermore, any message suggesting moral people are closer to God than immoral people disregards the depth of man’s broken condition and degrades the value of Jesus’ death on the cross. Our only hope is faith alone in Jesus alone.

So why has it become spiritual to fight today?

Interpreting, “thy kingdom come,” as a mandate to engage in political reform misunderstands the nature of the kingdom. Jesus said, “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would be fighting.” So why has it become spiritual to fight today? I’m suggesting it isn’t spiritual it’s sad.

Let me ask, “Was it the moral or immoral that came under the burning attack of Jesus?” We know He relentlessly attacked the most outwardly moral people in His culture, the Pharisees. We also know He persistently welcomed the immoral. Do you agree that the best a political movement can achieve is outward morality? Is God’s blessing poured out on the outwardly moral? No.

Establishing outward morality doesn’t propel America into the place of God’s blessing.

If the Church succeeds with efforts to “save America,” we may find life superficially more pleasing, our educational system more acceptable, and the political system more sympathetic. But God will not bless America. Establishing outward morality doesn’t propel America into the place of God’s blessing; it lands us in the category of those attacked by Jesus. To make matters worse, unbelievers converted or coerced into living morally upright lives become twice the child of hell as before their conversion (Matt. 23:15).

The only thing God ever blesses is faith in and love for Jesus.

If the blessing of God is not invited by superficial morality, how is it invited? The greatest blessing anyone could receive is eternal life. And how do individuals receive the blessing of eternal life? Is it through moral behavior? No. The greatest blessing God bestows is received by faith alone. The only thing God ever blesses is faith in and love for Jesus. If blessings come to us because we earn them through moral behavior, grace is nullified. Check out Romans chapter four for more on the faith-blessing connection.

Grace Freak

Pastor Dan Rockwell

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9 Comments on “Political Action?”

  1. David Fields Says:

    I found this article really interesting. I totally agree that political action that intends to force Christian morality on people who have no interest in Jesus is not helpful. And it is a waste of time in many cases. But I think this article also lacks a great deal of nuance and care in thinking well about political action. For example, the abolition of slavery by British evangelicals was a move, motivated by a desire to “do justly” (See Micah 6:8), and to live out the effects of the gospel (As Jesus says of his ministry, and the results of ushering in the time of God’s Kingdom in a new and decisive way; See Luke 4:18; cf. Isa 61:1-2). When it comes to systems that continue to oppress the poor, as God’s People, we have the responsibility to defend the cause of the poor, oppressed, enslaved and marginalized. That may – in fact it will, as in the case with the abolition of slavery – include changing systems that are rooted in flawed political ideologies. This is not about “getting behind” political people, but saying “Jesus is Lord” (a political statement of Jesus’ authority as the ruler of all creation), and saying, “We stand for the things for the values of the Kingdom.”

    So my suggestion is that we learn to think clearly about the issues – especially as they relate to global justice. Which issues belong to those who already call Jesus Lord (issues of morality)? Which issues are fundamental to the ordering of a just society (issues of poverty, clean drinking water, access to health care)? Our “doing justly” must not be limited to “Christian circles”. This is a call to be a part of God’s redeeming work in our world. This is about living out the effects of the gospel – of recognizing that “Christ is King”, and living out his priorities in a broken and unjust world.

    God’s peace (his Shalom) be yours,
    Dave

    • Dan Rockwell Says:

      David,

      Thank you for your well thought out comments. I appreciate and respect your opinions and look forward to other comments.

      We’ll land on different sides of this issue.

      You have my regards,

      Dan

  2. Pete Chadwell Says:

    I’m not sure I agree with either of you completely. I hate to ever find myself in the middle of the road, but I’m seeing some good points and not-so-good points being put forth here.

    I agree with Dan that Jesus is the answer as opposed to political activism. But I don’t think I would want to say that political activism should be avoided, either. I think it depends a great deal on what is meant by “political activism” and I think it also depends on what issue the political activism is aimed at and for what purpose.

    If the purpose is one of improving our moral performance as a society, seems like that’s putting the cart before the horse. But if the activism is oriented around creating a climate that encourages exposure to the gospel in some fashion, well… that seems to me like the right way to go.

    One example of many might be political activism (carefully executed) oriented around changing science standards in public schools in such a way that Darwinism can be challenged freely and the weaknesses taught just as freely. It’s just one example and it’s an example with a very long-term goal in mind.

    Very interesting topic, lots of nuances to be sorted out.

    Thank you.

    • Dan Rockwell Says:

      Hey Pete,

      With a hot topic like this we have to expect a middle position too. And I’m not thinking you are a compromiser.. I’m thinking you are honestly trying to work this out. I’m going to add here that God’s work seems to be most obvious in places that are politically, morally, socially, and economically pathetic. China and Africa are cases in point. What I’m suggesting is that political activism doesn’t help us…and doesn’t invite the work of God in our society. But I think I’m repeating my blog… 🙂

      Thanks man for jumping in, I appreciate it.

      Dan

      • Pete Chadwell Says:

        Thank you, Dan. Still I think it’s necessary to define “political activism.” We could easily be talking past each other unless we have that nailed down. I mean… does voting qualify? At what point does one go from participating in the political process (voting, writing one’s Congressman, etc.) to something that we would call “political activism”? Is volunteering at the local party headquarters “political activism”? Where do we draw that line? I am, for example, diametrically opposed to any activism for any cause that involves picketing and other things that create civil disturbances of one sort or another. When Christians become involved with this kind of thing, often times it makes the news and it makes us all look really, really silly.

        Thanks again!

      • Dan Rockwell Says:

        Hey Peter,

        I’m for believers participating in the political process. With passion if they are so inclined. In the blog I was careful to say that the Church is wasting it’s resources if it engages in political activism. I’m thinking of local assemblies or denominations when I say Church.

        I’ve held a local elected office…so I’m all for participation.

        Does that help? I wonder what others think about this division????

        Dan

      • Pete Chadwell Says:

        Thanks, Dan. I assumed that you were not advocating against voting and that sort of thing… but I just wanted to establish that the terms here are important. I’m guessing from your clarification that you and I probably draw the line in about the same place. If the local assembly I attend gets into the kind of thing you’re talking about, I won’t like it and they just might hear about it. But I don’t expect that they would be inclined to do any such thing.

        Thank you!

  3. Kevin McGillicuddy Says:

    I totally agree with this article

    “The Church’s involvement in politics represents a colossal waste of human and financial resources, a tragic misdirection of enthusiasm, and a complete misunderstanding of the Church’s mission in this broken world. Our mission is not to create a more moral America”

    Not only do I feel the church in politics is hurtful I also feel it is only a way to force unbelievers to act like us. The only exception I see to this is acting against pro-choice because we are dealing with more then just laws but with human lives.

    I do not feel politics is a beneficial move let alone a good move for the church. Congress is so far down the partisan line they are of no use to anyone. If the Democrats would have a “we love puppies campaign” the Republicans would blindly and stupidly counter act by saying Puppies are not cute and not fun.

    George Washington did warn of this when he left office and I just feel that political parties are just pushing their ideals and too consumed with keeping lobbyists happy.

    I say lets not make the world a better place to go to hell from through laws while ignoring the fact that people need Jesus before they need more borderline useless laws and politics.

    Kevin


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