Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

One of the very few benefits of social media is the ability to stay connected with friends and family from around the globe, sharing moments of both joy and of struggle.  But I have to admit, more often than not, it is simply a cesspool of provocation and contention.  Even those of us who identify as followers of Christ seem to easily get caught up in the rhetoric. 

On one side we have the “woke” folk, who espouse the idea that “silence is violence”, and that we have a duty to speak out on what they view as the critical issues of the day.  On the other side, we have our nationalist friends, who seem to feel like we need to, “make our voice heard”, so that America can be “great again”.  The steady refusal to engage in some fruitless war of words only seems to draw the ire of both sides.

Recently, I’ve been bombarded with messaging that seems to imply that this lack of engagement is somehow a forfeiture of my “Christian” duty to attempt to effect change in a sinful culture and fallen world.  But I would submit that if by observing my life, or being in relationship with me, you are unsure of the values I hold to, my words are not likely to impact you.  Indeed, I would be the proverbial clanging cymbal.  Only Christ has the words of life, and unless He gives me something to say, I think it best to keep my mouth shut.  When Jesus stood before His accusers, He remained silent (Matt.27:12), which is a totally appropriate response for people who are simply trying to set a snare.

I also disagree with the assertion that involvement in political activism is meant to be an integral part of expressing our faith.  The scripture tells us not to focus on the seen realm (2Cor.4:18), which is perishing, but to keep our eyes fixed on Christ (Heb.12:2), who is the perfecter of our faith.  It tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood (Eph.6:12), and warns us that a good soldier does not get involved in civilian affairs (2Tim.2:4).  When the political, religious and cultural forces came together to attack Jesus, Peter rationalized taking up a sword, but instead of being praised, He was rebuked by Christ; who went on to undo the damage Peter had done (Luke 22:51). He later explained to Pilate that His Kingdom was not of this world, which is why His followers weren’t called to fight for Him in that manner (John 18:36).

I have happily served this country (12 years US Navy), I clearly recognize the wonderful benefits of democracy, and I have voted in every election I could, but on its best day, the American political system is still a corrupted, man-made system.  As forms of government go, democracy may be the gold standard, but it still falls under the heading of a “hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world”, rather than on Christ (Col.2:9).  While it is completely reasonable to participate as a citizen of the United States, it is not something a child of God ought to invest much hope in.

Christ is our model, and He only did what His Father directed.  Then He gave us His Holy Spirit, so that we might do the same.  He said that people would be able to identify His followers by their love for one another (John 13;35), and by the fruit of their faith (Matt.7:16).  Unfortunately, the people of the world don’t routinely witness either of those.  Sadly, they more commonly know us by our political beliefs instead.

When Christ came, God’s chosen people had been conquered by a hostile foreign government (Rome), were being ignored by their own puppet regime (Herod) and were being exploited by the very religious system that was supposed to keep them connected to their God.  They expected the Messiah to change all that, but Jesus was focused on something more profound, and eternal.  I would submit that He still is.

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I heard a couple of sermons on Sunday, one of which spoke of “The King”, and the other that addressed holiness. They put me in mind of something I wrote many years ago.  I guess I never published it, because I had to dig it out of an old notebook.


Church Government


I saw a picture in my mind of the British Parliament, and I sensed the question, “Is England a Monarchy or a Democracy?”  Now this seemed to be a fairly unspiritual question, but I began to ponder my answer.  My immediate impulse was to say it was a monarchy, but the picture of the parliament reminded me that it was in fact a democracy.   While England does have a “Royal Family”, they actually have no real function within the day-to-day running of the country.  While some might claim that they still have a “monarchy”, it is not their way of government.


As I continued to meditate in this vein another question came; “Why are the people of England willing to pay the expense of this royal family, when they serve no real purpose in the governing of their country?”  I sensed that the answer lies in the people’s desire to be associated with the monarchy. That all of the pomp and trappings of royalty make the people feel royal about themselves, as though this distinguishes them from other countries.  It occurred to me that if the people of England really believed in the concept of a monarchy (i.e. that the royal family was God ordained and bred for leadership) that there wouldn’t be anyone else they would want to run their country; but instead they have chosen democracy as their form of government.


Certainly as an American I can appreciate democracy, because as a citizen I want my beliefs and desires to be reflected in the leadership of my community, my state and this nation.  There is nothing wrong with the British choosing democracy over a monarchy, but their desire to maintain the trappings of royalty creates an interesting illusion; it helps them to view themselves as one thing when they’re really something else.


As I continued to pray, I sensed the Lord say that this is a picture of His church.  He said that though we claim Him as “King”, He is rarely allowed to be involved in the decision making process, or the day to day affairs of the church; that decisions are primarily made by the people and for the people; that though we desire to be associated with His majesty, we do not necessarily desire to submit to His authority, and that though His name appears on the letterhead, the words of the message do not necessarily come from Him.


In his letter to the Colossians, Paul warned of the body becoming disconnected from the Head; he said, “see to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ”.  It seems that much of popular Christian culture has based itself on “the basic principles of this world”, and that in attempt to become relevant to the world, we’ve conformed ourselves to what we think will be found appealing in the marketplace.  Much of the “Christian” guidance (i.e. books, tapes, seminars…) on subjects like marriage, child rearing, inner healing… are more rooted in psychology than in God’s word, and we’ve even begun to study the corporate world for marketing strategies to be deployed within the church.  Based on these strategies, which put “what the people want” at the forefront, we are now seeing new interpretations (read; not necessarily translations) of scripture, which subtly distort anything which might offend someone who has adapted to the current cultural view.


In the book of Revelation there are messages to seven churches, which seem to be representative of the end time churches.  Within those the Lord points out some positive things, but He also gives stern warnings about the things He has against them.  He warns about forsaking our first love (i.e. allowing something other than Christ to be at the forefront of the church); that we must being willing to endure hardship and suffering (i.e. be willing to forsake our comfort); against adhering to false doctrines, which allow us to indulge our flesh and still believe that we are righteous before a Holy God; against tolerating sexual immorality within the church; against falling asleep, and not fulfilling His role for the church and against being lukewarm in our relationship with Him.  It is hard to deny that all of these things are prominently featured within modern Christianity.


At the end of each message there is a promise, but those promises are reserved for those who overcome these things.  Despite warnings throughout the New Testament, the Western church seems to be falling into many of these deadly patterns.  Our only hope is to re-connect to the Head, to tune our ears to His Holy Spirit; to renew our relationship with our “First Love”, to seek the Lord while He may be found, and to be like Jesus (e.g. to only do what we see the Father doing first).


Within this portion of Revelation, the one group the Lord doesn’t seem to have an issue with is the church of Philadelphia, which He says kept His word and did not deny His name.  This seems to be such a basic principle and yet this is the only church of which He could say this.  If we would choose to be that church, the promises of God are waiting for us there.  “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

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It is most likely a byproduct of our national heritage that we are generally repulsed by the concept of a monarchy as our form of government. Unfortunately, this aversion is clearly reflected in our Americanized brand of “Christianity”, which seems to favor the notion that the masses should get a vote in how the truth is ultimately defined. While we can embrace the image of a powerful King in the role of our defender or provider, we much prefer the picture of a gentle lamb when it comes to addressing the issue of our accountability. In reading the parables Jesus used to describe the Kingdom of God (a.k.a. the Kingdom of Heaven), it is very clear that democracy is not the form of governance at work there.

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